Disillusioned by the party’s lurch to the right and its anti-gay right-wing policies, Mr Woodward defected to Labour in 1999.
With his chances of being re-elected as a Labour man in Witney zero, where a young David Cameron become his successor, he moved to St Helens and threw himself into life as the town’s MP.
“Ten years ago I also talked about regeneration with a purpose, because I was angry that the help that had been made available to people in the south wasn’t being made available in St Helens,” he said.
“I’m proud of the part I’ve played in bringing substantial amounts of capital investment and revenue funding into the town to help with its transformation.”
Classing the rebuild of Whiston and St Helens Hospitals, St Helens College and St Helens Central train station among his proudest moments, Mr Woodward told how the campaigning buzz continues to be “immensely enjoyable”.
And he hailed the new Saints stadium as a beacon of hope for everybody in St Helens - whether they go to the games or not.
Mr Woodward also told why he stepped down from the shadow cabinet last month for family reasons.
He said: “I had been the longest serving Northern Ireland secretary before last year’s election but it was time to take a break from that. For the sake of my kids, in particular, it’s very hard for me to be away from them so much.
“I want to spend more time with the younger ones now – which is something I’ve not had the chance to do in the last five or six years.”
And has Mr Woodward considered yet whether he will stand at the next general election?
“I’ve not thought about it. I’m not a career politician but I want to be where I can be useful – that’s been the pattern of my life.
“I want to make a difference. That’s what matters to me. And whether it’s Sure Start centres, hospitals or the number of PCSOs on our streets, I’m determined to do everything I can to protect the advances that have been made in St Helens in the last 10 years.”