Joan Walmsley hails from Liverpool where she also went to University. After graduating in Biology she went to work in the health service and after a number of years out of the workplace bringing up her two children she trained as a teacher and taught in the secondary sector. She then went into public relations where she worked for Hill & Knowlton for nine years before setting up her own business. She married Martin Thomas (Lord Thomas of Gresford) in 2005, and now lives in North Wales.
It was in 1986 that she became politically active in the Liberal Party when her late husband Chris Walmsley was the candidate in the famous West Derbyshire by-election (held by the Tories by only 100 votes). Since then she has held numerous posts in local Parties, as a constituency chair, fundraiser, press officer, agent and PPC.
In the wider party she has served on the Federal Executive, Federal Conference Committee and the North West Regional Executive. She has also served as Chairman of WLD and vice-chair of the Gender Balance Task Force.
Joan has also been involved in policy development. She chaired a working party on "Crime and Policing" and reviewed the party's policy on illegal drugs. On family and children policy, she chaired the working group on Early Years, which wrote the policy paper "Fair Foundations", and was a member of the group that produced the childcare plicy document "Stronger Families, Brighter Futures". She has recently been a member of the working party which produced the 5-19 Education policy paper, "Equity and Excellence".
She stood for Parliament in 1992 and 1997 and in the European elections of 1999. She is now Children, Schools and Families Spokesperson in the Lords. She has served on the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology and is the Vice-Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children.
Joan is passionate about music. She is a member and former chairman of the Parliament Choir and supports the Southbank Sinfonia, an orchestra for recently graduated young musicians. She is very active in charity work, mostly relating to children and plant conservation.