Mary was born and brought up in Coventry. Her mum was a primary school teacher and her dad worked in a car factory. After attending the local comprehensive school she won a scholarship to Oxford where she studied modern languages. This led to 4 years working in Brussels first at the European Parliament, and then the European Youth Forum.
There she campaigned for young people and ran the first ever European-wide campaign to get young people to vote with MTV Europe. She then worked at the London Enterprise Agency, a London-wide regeneration body.
Taking an MSc in European Studies at the London School of Economics took her into academia.
Before being elected as Member of Parliament for Wakefield Mary taught entrepreneurship at Cranfield University's School of Management for 7 years, and was a councillor in her spare time. She also spent 7 years as a Trustee for Rathbone, a national charity that provides training for disadvantaged young people in Wakefield and Huddersfield.
She married Adrian in 2001 and her son, Clement (named after our great Prime Minister Clem Attlee) was born in 2002. Her daughter Beatrice was born in 2007. Her husband Adrian is a keen walker and spends his weekends enjoying Wakefield's beautiful countryside!
They live in the centre of Wakefield. When she's not working she enjoys cycling, yoga, food, gardening and having fun with her family. She speaks fluent French and Italian. She cycles in and out of Westminster every day on her trusty bike.
Since her election in 2005 she has campaigned on many issues, including Childrens Food, domestic violence, reducing bath scalding, and laws to protect cohabiting couples. Until June 2009 she was the Chair of the Labour Movement for Europe. She was also Vice-Chair of of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Great Lakes (covering Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo) and Vice-Chair of the APPG on Genocide Prevention where she campaigned to change UK law for genocide to be prosecuted in the UK.
She served as a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights from 2005-06 contributing to its reports on human trafficking and terrorism.
From September 2006 to June 2009 she was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, first in his role as Minister of State at the Department of Health, then as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and finally as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.
She became a Government Minister in June 2009, working as a Whip in the Department of Health.
In October 2010 she was elected by her parliamentary colleagues to serve in the Labour shadow cabinet. She is now the Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.