Robert's Weekly Column 25th September 2019

On Sunday I laced up my running shoes and joined more than 2,000 other people in running the Swindon Half Marathon. It was the fourth time I have joined them, and it was wonderful to spend my birthday doing so.  The support that all of the runners received from the thousands of people who despite the rain lined the 13.1 miles route to cheer us along was truly fantastic.

This year I was part of the Mayor’s Charities Team to help raise money for Swindon and Wiltshire Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement (CALM) and Swindon and North Wilts Deaf Children’s Society. Both of these are local charities who do great work here in Swindon to support children and their families.

The two charities are run entirely by local volunteers which means that any donations they receive really make a difference to them. If you would like to donate to the Mayor’s charities, there is a link to the JustGiving page on my Facebook and Twitter.

It had for a time looked like that Sunday’s Swindon Half Marathon was going to be its last. Thankfully the future of the annual event has been secured with The Race Organiser taking over the management of the event for the foreseeable future.

Graeme, Leigh and the rest of the Nationwide New Swindon Half organising team deserve a lot of credit and thanks for all of the hard work they put in over the last years into setting up and managing a successfully half marathon within Swindon.

On Saturday afternoon, I joined local Conservative councillors and other volunteers for the Big Clean where we picked up litter and cleaned road signs across West Swindon. The Big Clean is a fantastic initiative which took place right across the South West and brought together communities in helping to keep our areas clean and tidy.

I am proud of the UK’s world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth. This Government published its Clean Growth Strategy in 2017 in which we set out our plans for meeting the UK’s carbon targets and the ambition to legislate for a net zero emissions target. At the same time, the ambitious 25 Year Environment Plan outlines the Government’s commitment to supporting and protecting the world’s most biodiverse forests, supporting sustainable agriculture and enhancing sustainability, and supporting zero-deforestation supply chains.

On Friday I joined students at Shaw Ridge Primary School as part of the BookTrust’s #TimeToRead campaign which aims to transform lives by getting children and families reading.

Reading is a fantastic way for parents to support the learning and development of their children. It has also been proven to be hugely beneficially to their mental health and wellbeing. Reading together also provides important one-to-one time, helps develop empathy and allows parents to explore new situations, emotions and perspectives with their children, even at a very young age.

To help get more families enjoying books together, the BookTrust is giving all 700,000 reception pupils in England a free copy of ‘The Cave’ by Rob Hodgson. This is an entertaining book with a twist in the plot. It was a pleasure to read it to Years 1 and 2, who were very lively participants