Mother, lawyer, and a modern wife

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CHERIE BLAIR has continued her public appearances during the first trimester of her pregnancy, showing no sign of wishing to keep out of the limelight despite her happy news.

Only yesterday she was hosting one of her regular tea parties at Downing Street for children of constituents.

Mrs Blair is seen as a quintessential modern woman, having continued her career as a leading barrister while juggling her roles as the high- profile wife of the Prime Minister and mother of three children, Euan, 15, Nicholas, 14, and Kathryn, 11.

There has been no talk of a change in her condition and her dress sense at recent events has won favourable comment.

Mrs Blair, the first Prime Minister's wife with a full-time career, has continued to climb the legal tree since Labour swept to power in 1997, being appointed a permanent part-time judge this June.

She was made a recorder and could become eligible for a full-time post after two or three years. The appointment means she must sit at least 20 days a year as a judge, a requirement she has already been fulfilling for two years in the temporary post of assistant recorder.

Mrs Blair, a Queen's Counsel specialising in public and employment law, uses her maiden name, Booth, in her professional life, in which she is said to earn at least pounds 200,000 a year.

She was brought up in a working class, Roman Catholic family in Bury, Lancashire, by her mother, after her actor father Tony Booth, who appeared in the television series Till Death Us Do Part, walked out.

Academically bright and ambitious from an early age, she gained four As at A-level, a First in her law degree at the London School of Economics and came top of her year in the Bar exams. She met her husband while they were both training to become barristers.