Robert's Weekly Article - Wednesday 14th November 2018

Here in Swindon, our armed services are a deeply ingrained part of our lives both past and present and I am extremely proud to represent a constituency that rightly holds our military personnel in the highest regard. As we marked the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of Armistice last Sunday, I was honoured to attend several local events to mark this occasion.

On Saturday afternoon, I was delighted to see the Great War Memorial unveiled by our Mayor and local artist, Dr Mike Pringle, at Faringdon Road GWR Park. I was pleased to see that so many aspects of the War and what it meant to people in Swindon were reflected in Mike's inspired design. This was followed by the Christ Church Festival of Commemoration for Armistice 100 on Saturday evening, which I was honoured to take part in.  I was then very glad to have been able to go to Wroughton Parish Church to hear the Wroughton Silver Band, The Wroughton Choral Society and the church choir perform at a Remembrance Concert.

On Sunday morning, there was a huge turnout for the Remembrance Service at Swindon Cenotaph, where I joined the local community to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice by laying a wreath. This was followed by the service at Radnor Street Cemetery, which was bigger than ever this year and commemorated Swindon members of Armed Forces, who are laid to rest there. Finally, on Sunday evening, I took part an event at the STEAM Museum. This was a wonderful commemoration to the Fallen from the GWR during the Great War.  A beacon was then lit outside; this was one of hundreds throughout the nation that were illuminated in memory of this historic event.

I am proud that thousands of local people turned up to the many events held across Swindon over the weekend and remembered the debt of gratitude we owe to all of those brave men and woman who helped to keep our Country safe and gave us the freedom that we enjoy today.

As part of my regular visits to our local schools and colleges, last Friday morning I was delighted to open The Commonweal ESRC Festival of Social Science. Swindon is a hub for research and development for the whole of UK, with the Research Councils based in our town and the Economic and Social Research Council fund many of the challenges that we are addressing today, including public services, housing and the ageing population.  I am pleased to see the ESRC working closely with our schools and offering valuable insight into the research taking place. 

I also visited the site of the new Deanery CE Academy in Wichelstowe last week to check on progress.  The design and layout is most impressive, and will prove to be a facility for the whole community.  The Deanery, which is set to open in September 2019, will be an 11-18 Church of England Academy with a strong Christian ethos. The school will serve both the new Wichelstowe development and families from across Swindon. I was pleased to meet with the new Principal and discuss the new educational approach for the school, which will blend a rigorous academic programme with a focus on other areas of personal development too, and promises outstanding opportunities in sports, leadership, and the creative and performing arts to pupils. Through these activities, they will learn key life skills such as communication, exploration, discernment and perseverance. The Deanery will be a welcome addition to meet a growing population and to help ensure that local parents and children can get access to the school of their choice.