Published: 29 January 2010
by PETER GRUNER
HE’S comprehensive school educated, married to a British-born Nigerian, and has a special interest in mental health after witnessing his sister suffer a psychological breakdown.
Holloway man Richard Bunting, 36, deputy chairman of Islington Conservatives, is masterminding his party’s fight in the Town Hall elections this spring.
The party will be fielding 48 candidates, covering all wards, for the first time in 20 years. There’s an almost 50-50 split between men and women and candidates include a West Indian, a Maltese and an Italian.
Ages of candidates range from 19 to 84 and include an undertaker, a pub landlady, an antiques dealer, a Holloway prison warder, a doctor and a vet.
Mr Bunting, a father of two, works in the IT industry and is standing in St Mary’s ward, where his campaign includes a call for zero tolerance on crime and anti-social behaviour.
He was born and brought up near Manchester, his father worked in textiles and his mother is a midwife. Mr Bunting was the first in his family to go to university, where he studied computer science and maths.
He admits that watching his younger sister struggle with mental illness was a distressing but important time of his life.
Mr Bunting said: “You can get caught up with your career and discover this completely strange world of mental illness.
“My sister went to university before the breakdown. It appeared to be totally out of the blue.”
She had been working as a pharmacist at a London hospital when Mr Bunting was alerted that her behaviour was causing concern. She was eventually admitted to a psychological unit and diagnosed with a personality disorder. Even today, six years later, she’s still in hospital.
It was while meeting mental health professionals to discuss his sister’s problems that Mr Bunting decided to stand for election as a governor with Islington and Camden Mental Health Foundation Trust. He’s currently vice-chairman of the board of governors.
“The experience got me thinking about how we care for people suffering from mental health problems. It is still a Cinderella service and there is still a stigma attached to it, which is why I’m happy to talk about the issue,” he said.
“One in four people will suffer a mental health condition in their life and the numbers are rising. Each individual case is different and requires specific help. We need more support.”
Mr Bunting studied at the University of Aberystwyth. It was while at work placement he met his chemical engineer wife Chinwe at Port Talbot steelworks.
He added: “I chose the Conservative party because I feel that things like family, community and public service have been ruined under Labour.
“It’s not about where you come from, but where you are going.”