The life story of the late Duchess of Devonshire (born Deborah Mitford) has been told many times but at a recent meeting of the Bakewell and District Probus Club, a new perspective on the history and achievements of this remarkable woman was given by the speaker Simon Seligman. From childhood Simon had wanted to work at Chatsworth, and it was after he had graduated with an arts degree that he took the bold step of writing to the Duchess and asked for a job. His letter must have caught the Duchess’ attention because it eventually led to his being given the opportunity to join the staff at Chatsworth. This was in 1991 and, for the next 19 years his career progressed to the point at which he had become head of communications there. Over this time, he developed a close working relationship with the Duchess and, as was clear from the way in which he talked about her, he came to admire and respect her immensely. As is widely known, Deborah Mitford was the youngest of six sisters, most of whose controversial lives were notable for their political sympathies, ranging from communism to fascism.
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