NEXT up in our series of '21 Questions' general election pieces is Conservative St Helens South & Whiston candidate Richard Short.

Richard, 49, is contesting the seat held by Labour's Marie Rimmer in the general election on December 12.

Here is how he answered our 21 quickfire questions.


I’m state educated from the word go. Because of where I lived at the time there was an 11-plus regime so I passed my 11-plus and went to the local grammar school but then because of family circumstances I ended up going to a comprehensive school where I finished my formal education. At Bedford High School in Leigh, that is where I got my CSEs and O Levels. Then I went to Leigh College and Salford Uni.


My degree was environmental sciences and I took what they called the environmental health option and by doing that I also learned vocationally the things you needed to get registered as an environmental health officer. I’ve practiced in environmental health from then until now.

First car you bought?

A Mini, it was an orange Mini Clubman. It was an R-registered, there was more rust than metal! The number plate was actually worth more than the car, we ended up selling the number plate and then we scrapped the car.

Where did you last go on holiday?

Because of the nature of my work I decided this year for the first time not to have one long holiday but having short breaks. The reason for that is when you go away nobody really rallies round to check all your emails are answered. It was always soul destroying to come back and open up all these emails so this year I thought, I’m just going to go away for a couple of long weekends so we went to a lake up in Preston where I could do a bit of fishing and the family could relax. It was one of those put your feet up, chill out and watch the world go by. Then we had another break, just a few days in London seeing the sights.

What was the last thing you ate?

It was a beef and horseradish sandwich from a BP garage. I had a bottle of orange juice with it, some hot and spicy Nik Nak crisps and a double Snickers.

When was the last time you cried?

I’m a wear my heart on my sleeve type. The last time I welled up, I remember it distinctly. The death of Princess Diana, it was the moment there was a church choir and I always get emotional to a good piece of music and I saw the plane come in from France carrying her coffin and it was such a poignant moment. This was our Princess, none of your Hollywood fairy-tale, this was for real, brought back home. The choir were singing in the background and I got so choked up I couldn’t speak.

What is your favourite St Helens restaurant?

I’m one for a cheeky Nando’s. I passed it on the way and I might be popping in on the way down, especially with the Piri Piri sauce. I wouldn’t say I’m a superfan, I’m very cosmopolitan with my restaurant choices but I do like my meat.

What is your favourite St Helens pub?

The Bull’s head, near Whiston. I was talking to the landlord. It’s always good going to a pub, especially a pub like that which is very much a community affair and the people there are salt of the earth types, they won’t hold anything back. They’re very polite in what I’ve got to say. That’s the sort of pub I think we try to save. Sometimes you do need that community feel and that’s what you get at the Bull’s Head.

What would be your last ever meal?

My last ever meal would be my favourite of all meals, eggs, chips and beans! Whenever the wife rings me and says what do you fancy for tea? She knows what the response will be.

Where do you do your food shopping?

I’ve got no particular loyalty, I’ve got Clubcard, Nectar, I’ve got them all, mainly because I travel a lot and use petrol stations. I go wherever I’m going to get good value. The one that I used last time was Lidl, it’s great for buying staples but at this time of year they do a fabulous range of sweets and biscuits.

Who is your favourite Saints rugby player?

Now I’ve got to confess, I’m not a follower of St Helens rugby league. I hail from Leigh and I’m more of a rugby union fan. When I came to live in Leigh way back in 1983 I was in the rugby team and the schoolteacher said to me: “rugby league, it’s a lot tougher do you think you can handle it?”. I’m like “oh yes, I’m full back extraordinaire, I can do this!” The very first match there was a guy on the opposing team, the full back is the one who has to catch the guy who has got through everybody else, which he had done. Both our heads went down I thought this is going to be the tackle of a lifetime. Both our heads met and I was knocked out cold. Just for a matter of seconds, the first thing I remember was sponge over my head for cold water and my teacher said “I told you rugby league was tough!” But I stayed in the fullback position, I was a trooper.

What is your favourite movie?

I like the Star Wars franchise, the originals I tend to like more than the middle ones. I any genre like that, I do like the continuity so when you see the likes of Han Solo and C3PO and they feature in the new ones I do like to see that continuity.

What is your favourite TV series?

My favourite one and I watch it on the loop sometimes and it drives everybody in the house mad is Wheeler Dealers. I’m a bit of a grease monkey, I do like to get under the bonnet and I serviced my own car and do my own repairs. Whenever Wheeler Dealers is on I do like to watch it, even if it’s one I’ve seen a thousand times.

What is your favourite book?

I like facts and figures type books and online, thinks like Wikipedia. I get so easily drawn in. I’m not an avid reader but that’s because I find it quite difficult to read some books because I’ve got a touch of dyslexia and reading things on paper is easier, reading things on a screen can be a bit of a challenge because of the contrast. If I get a good old book that’s got the buff rough pages and the slightly off-black text, no matter what the book is about I can get stuck in. The one I’m reading at the moment is Guy Martin’s semi-biography. It’s the book When You’re Dead You’re Dead and what it’s saying is, you’ve only got one life, live it and I like his outlook on life, it’s a bit of an inspiration.

Who is your favourite actor?

That’s a difficult one. I’ll be watching something and it will occur to me just what a good actor they are. The last time I said that it was Sean Bean. I was watching this documentary about the Battle of Waterloo and because of his role in Sharp. Doing the documentary, he was him and then it would cut to an episode of Sharp and you just know he’s a good actor because the character is completely different from him, a soft-spoken sort of forward-speaking Yorkshire but when you see him in character, he’s absolutely in that character. I think that genre of actors is what I like the most, not your Hollywood glitzy stars but more your character actors that can just slip into a character. And also, a bit left-field. David Ross, not a household names but he’s just so good. He played the original Kryten in Red Dwarf before Robert Llewellyn came. He played a very well-spoken butler-type but he also played a character in GBH, a political drama in the early 90s where he played a bumbling headmaster. The same person played the younger headmaster in flashbacks and you think this is the guy who played Kryten, that is real talent.

What music are you listening to right now?

I’m on Spotify, my two go-to bands. One is my all-time favourite which is Queen and you asked earlier about what makes me cry. What does put a slight lump in my throat is, at this time of year, because November 24 is the anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death and I was playing a song that wasn’t written or performed by Freddie Mercury because it was after his death and it’s a song called Only The Good Die Young, even talking to you I’m thinking of the video. and there’s one line in it that really puts the emotions on edge. It says: “There’s a face at the window”, and there’s all the band there and at the window is Freddie Mercury and I thought Freddie would have loved this.

Status Quo as well, I like the rock.

One song I do on a loop is Nantucket’s Sleighride by Mountain. There’s a live version, I absolutely love that.

Who would play you in a movie of your life?

I think anybody could play me because I wear my heart on my sleeve. What you see is what you get, I try to be as honest and open with people. I think someone that would have to play me would have to look at the various stages of my life because as a youngster and a teenager I was quite the nerd and later in life it would have to be somebody who may have a bit of girth!

Do you have any tattoos?


What is the best gift you have ever received?

It’s one that has got meaning. I remember I was doing a talk to a lot of environmental health officers and at the end of it, I had a rush call, I had to be somewhere. I said I’ve got to go and the guys called me bad they’ve got me a present. I’m like, aw that’s really nice. It was just a picture of the River Tyne, a colour sketch. I’ve still got that at home because I remember what it was given to me for. What it’s worth is immaterial. Material worth in gifts doesn’t bother me at all. If somebody thinks of me enough to buy me a present, that’s lovely, I don’t care what it is.

If you had one superpower, what it would be?

I think it would be the power to go back in time. Not just for my sake but there lots of instances throughout history where a tweak here and a tweak there might make things all better. I think the ability to go back in time and interact. I would be with any superpower, you’d use it very wisely. I’m going to quote Doctor Who, he had the power to go back in time, and it was Genesis of Th Daleks, that series 1970s, Tom baker was the doctor and he went back in time to destroy the experiment that created the Daleks and he had these two wires in his hand and if he joined them, they’d all be dead. But he didn’t do it, he had this last-minute thought. The Daleks, they actually united people against them and maybe they’re needed so if I was to go back in time and do something that would change the course of history there’s an awful lot of responsibility with that. When you have a superpower, with that comes great responsibility. Use it wisely.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

This was my step-dad, it’s why I became an environmental health officer. I went home with a school report, I sat home with my step-dad and he went through it and I was expecting to get absolutely hammered because most of it was bad, “could do better”. But the one thing that I excelled was science and maths and he just leaned forward, held the report in his hand and said: “Richard, this tells me one thing. This tells me you are very very good at a few things and you will never be as good as a person who is a bit good at a lot of things so you need to learn more about more things. I was about 10 and I thought yes, I needed to know more so I started to find out more about very interesting things about the natural world and the environment. When the career of environmental health came knocking on my door I thought I could do this. I put it to that bit of advice.