A student is on the campaign trail in a bid to become Britain’s youngest MP – at the age of 20.
Pretty undergraduate Roxanne Egan is fighting the newly-created constituency of Thornbury and Yate for the Labour Party.
If she wins the seat, she will become the youngest Member of Parliament since the Reform Act of 1832.
Roxanne, who joined the party at 15, has taken a year out of her architecture degree to orchestrate her general election campaign.
Until four years ago, when the Electoral Administration Act lowered the minimum age from 21 to 18, Roxanne would not have been able to run for MP.
But rather than viewing her inexperience as a hinderance, Roxanne believes her youth will repair the damage done by the expenses scandal by engaging young voters.
Speaking from her home in Yate, near Bristol, she said: ”I just see my age is offering a different perspective.
”Parliament, like life, is made up of people of all ages and I would like to think I can reach a section of voters which may otherwise feel nonplussed about voting.
”It would be a shame if young people became so disillusioned they stopped voting. Hopefully by standing, I can encourage people to exercise their vote.
”The feedback is largely positive. I have had the occasional person who obviously thinks I can’t possibly know what issues are affecting people because of my age.”
Roxanne grew up in Hanham, Bristol, where she followed in the footsteps of her politically-active older brother Damien, 27.
He stood as Labour candidate in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in 2005 and is currently campaigning to win a seat in Tory-held Beckenham, Kent.
Roxanne, who studies at the University of Greenwich, became interested in politics when she helped her brother deliver Labour Party leaflets.
”My first memory of politics was when I was about eight,” she said.
”Like so many younger siblings, I took an interest in something largely because my brother had.
”He’s seven years older than me and first got interested in politics when he was about 15.
”He’d go out leaflet dropping for the local Labour party where we lived in Hanham.
”I’d ride my bike alongside him as an eight-year-old and would listen to conversations about politics going on around me and was always very aware.
”My mum was very keen for me to take an interest too. It was never rammed down our throats as kids but we were always very aware of politics.
”We would be taken down local polling stations on election days and explained the processes involved, who they were voting for and why.”
At school she took an active role in debates and was voted council president at Hanham High School.
Roxanne, who is actively involved in her community residents’ association, joined her local Labour party aged 15 – the earliest she was legally allowed to join.
Since then, she has helped in door-to-door and telephone canvassing and helped brother Damien during the 2005 Parliamentary Election in Weston-super-Mare.
Two years ago she answered a local newspaper advert calling for people interested in politics to put their name forward as an election candidate.
She wowed 25 local Labour party members with a 10 minute speech and beat four other hopefuls to become the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate.
”It was very daunting,” she said. ”I was only 18 and had to deliver a speech in front of everyone,” added Roxanne.
”It went pretty well and I just talked about what I believed in and why I thought I would be good.”
Roxanne, who lives with volunteer mum Eileen, 48, in Yate, has taken a year out from her university degree to concentrate on the election and save some money whilst working as a charity fundraiser for an agency.
She tackles the new seat of Thornbury and Yate, in South Gloucestershire, which was created with the abolition of the previous Northavon constituency.
The Northavon seat has been held by Liberal Democrat Steve Webb since 1997.
The youngest MP since the Reform Act of 1832 is thought to be Conservative Esmond Harmsworth in the Isle of Thanet, Kent, in 1919, aged 21.
Colin Burgess, secretary of the Thornbury and Yate Labour Party, said: ”Roxanne was brilliant during her candidacy speech two years ago and was comfortably won the majority of votes.
”She’s young, enthusiastic and exactly what the Labour party needs, particularly around here, where she can engage with young voters.”