Outgoing Central Ayrshire MP Philippa Whitford insists she has no intention of “sitting in my garden for 20 years” after stepping down from Westminster duty.

The 65-year-old says she will continue to support good causes and says that her decision to retire, taken last year, has left her with no regrets.

This week, on returning to Ayrshire after clearing her Westminster office, the SNP politician looked back on some of the highs and lows, underlining some of the local issues she has become involved in.

She said: “Achievements would have to include promoting the aerospace industry at Prestwick. When I joined the parliamentary aerospace and space committees they had never heard of  Prestwick being a  spaceport.

Dr Whitford gave a 'Vulcan salute' during a spaceport debate in the CommonsDr Whitford gave a 'Vulcan salute' during a spaceport debate in the Commons (Image: House of Commons)

“The Government at the time were only planning one spaceport site, but I managed to get a debate in 2016 and I pushed that it was up to the sites to make a business case.

"I was in Houston last February talking about the Scottish space industry and I have helped put Prestwick and aerospace on the map.

“I did a lot of work with Dementia Friendly Prestwick and was inspired by that to help set up Dementia Friendly Troon. I brought people together who are interested in safe cycling, and we developed Cycle Friendly Troon to progress the cycle path from Loans to the station.

“In Irvine I worked a lot with Coastwatch and helped get the Pilot House renovated for the first time by GSK.

"Because GSK did so much on the Pilot House,  Coastwatch were able to spend the funds they had raised on taking over the toilet block and having first aid and a shop.

“I know community groups, including the litter picking groups at Irvine and Troon, and you would also meet local charities and big businesses.

“Hillhouse Quarry provided aggregate to improve the Smuggler’s Trail. I supported the Water Sports club which is being built at Barassie, and got in touch with Scottish Water to get a connection to water and sewage and supported them getting the land from South Ayrshire Council.

“I approached Tesco in Irvine to have a relaxed lane for elderly people who have cognitive problems, and also spoke to Sainsbury’s in Prestwick.

“You are in a good position to help connect up big business, local charities and small community groups and I really enjoy that part.

“My last event was with Dementia Friendly Prestwick.

"We probably solved about 90 per cent of the thousands of cases people have brought us about passports, pensions, visas and driving licences and dealing with energy companies, and it’s amazing how me and my team of Heather, Isabel, Linda, Pete, Alistair and Amy could untangle those.”

But what were her frustrations?

She said: “Brexit was a big frustration, particularly not being listened to when I was warning about impacts of importing drugs. We now see a rise in drug shortages.

Dr Whitford was a leading surgeon before becoming an MPDr Whitford was a leading surgeon before becoming an MP (Image: Dr Philippa Whitford)

“I was also SNP health spokesman for six and half years, including the pandemic.

"My own doctorate was in cancer immunology so I was able to read the research papers and was trying to bring knowledge to the Chamber and Matt Hancock [then Health Secretary] was relentlessly rude and patronising and dismissive.”

One of her last duties was to attend the launch of the report on contaminated blood in hospitals, and she urged Cabinet minister John Glen not to remove support payments for victims.

She added: “I'm retiring. I have done 42 years of public service and I would like time to do other things with my husband Hans.

"I am involved in setting up the Scottish Palestinian Health Partnership, a network of people who have worked in the occupied territories for the past 10 years, including myself.

"With the complete destruction of healthcare and hospitals, healthcare in Gaza has ground to a halt and we have contacted people there to see what they need.”

Looking ahead, she said: “I am probably not someone who is going to sit in my garden for 20 years. It will be nice not to have so many spinning plates as an MP.

"But I am really grateful to the people who voted for me and campaigned for me over nine years and also my team.”

She will also continue with the ongoing fight for independence.