An MP who went from living above his parents’ York takeaway to studying at Cambridge and Oxford before being elected has shared his story.

Alan Mak is the Conservative MP for Havant, in Hampshire, but his journey to where he is today started over 200 miles away in his birthplace of York.

He grew up in a flat above his parents’ Chinese takeaway, Lucky Star, in Gillygate.

The flat had two rooms and was home for Alan, his parents and sister Lisa.

From a young age Alan worked at the takeaway and had a paper round at the nearby Lockwoods where he would deliver the then Yorkshire Evening Press.

“That experience in the heart of York really set me up for life,” he said. “I was meeting all sorts of people from all walks of life.”

Alan was 12 when his school, Queen Anne School, was earmarked for closure.

After finding out, he knocked on his headmaster’s door and asked to sit the entrance exam to St Peter’s School.

York Press: St Peter's SchoolSt Peter's School (Image: Pic supplied)

He passed and was given a Government Assisted Place, a bursary and a scholarship, and attended the school from 1997 to 2002.

At first Alan said he was simply glad to have a school to go to, but now owes much of his success to St Peter’s.

“It was a transformative experience which completely transformed the direction of my life,” he said.

“I felt really honoured to be welcomed to the school, particularly given that I hadn’t come from a wealthy or privileged background.”

Alan said he enjoyed all subjects and the opportunities St Peter’s gave him to travel abroad and try different sports.

York Press: Alan with his parents and sister outside York Minster for the St Peter’s School Commemoration and Prizegiving in 2002Alan with his parents and sister outside York Minster for the St Peter’s School Commemoration and Prizegiving in 2002 (Image: Alan Mak)

He developed an interest in politics at school and joined the Conservative Party aged 16.

When the time came to leave, Alan decided to study law and was encouraged to apply to Cambridge University by St Peter’s then headmaster Andrew Trotman.

“Nobody from my family had ever been to university, in fact no one had ever finished their schooling,” he said.

“I felt quite overawed by the dreaming spires of Oxbridge but felt I should give it a shot.”

Alan applied to Cambridge and, much to his delight, received an offer in the post.

After hard work and support from his teachers he met his conditions and accepted his place.

York Press: Alan in WestminsterAlan in Westminster (Image: Supplied)

Despite it being a big change, Alan enjoyed his time at the university.  

“I had a fantastic time,” he said. “I always found it slightly surreal and bewildering that I was there.”

After graduating he completed a post graduate degree at Oxford University and worked as a lawyer in London for seven years, specialising in business and corporate law.

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He also carried out charitable work and became a trustee and later president of the Magic Breakfast, a UK charity working to feed hungry children.

Alan’s work with the charity led to him being selected to carry the London 2012 Olympic Torch in Bedale.

York Press: Alan carries the Olympic Torch in Bedale in 2012Alan carries the Olympic Torch in Bedale in 2012 (Image: Supplied)

While in his late 20s, Alan said he was encouraged to start his political career after the then Conservative leader David Cameron urged more people from different backgrounds to enter politics.

In 2015, aged 31, Alan was elected Conservative MP for Havant, making him the first ever MP with a British-Chinese heritage.

“There had never been MPs that looked like me or had come from my background,” he said.

He has since held several ministerial positions within the party.

York Press: Alan at his desk in the TreasuryAlan at his desk in the Treasury (Image: Alan Mak)

Alan now lives between his constituency home and Westminster but still visits York regularly to see his mum.

He made a special visit to the city last August to marry his wife Cathy at the Minster.

“It was my local church, so it was just a huge honour to be able to be married there,” he said.

“I would run around York Minster as a kid, often being chased by the Minster Police.”

Alan has joined a campaign at St Peter’s to raise £5 million and double the number of bursaries by 2027 to support children in York and surrounding areas.

On July 7 he will give the annual St Peter's School Commemoration address at the Minster.