This Sunday, 8th November is Remembrance Sunday, which is an extremely important occasion in our nation’s calendar. It is a day for our nation to commemorate and honour those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom, in conflicts past and present. Each year, I play my part in the wreath laying ceremony at the Swindon Cenotaph in Regents Circus. Each year, the number of people who come to pay their respects grows and grows. I am sure that our community will come together in reflection once again this year, not only in the town centre but also at Wroughton, Chiseldon and other nearby communities, not to mention the afternoon ceremony at Radnor Street cemetery.
As a local community, we in Swindon have a great tradition of support for our armed forces. Serving members of our armed forces, plus a significant number of veterans, live locally, and I am always very glad to meet them and their families as I go out and about. There are few families that will not have had members who served in our armed forces.
The work of our armed forces charities is very important, so I was extremely proud to join veterans from the Royal Hospital Chelsea and the Royal British Legion and the Mayor of Swindon, Andrew Bennett, in the Brunel Centre’s Arcade last month to officially launch this year’s Swindon Poppy Appeal.
Following the launch, I was delighted to go to the Wiltshire Poppy Ball hosted by the STEAM Museum at the Great Western Railway last Saturday – one of the first events in Swindon’s Festival of Remembrance to commemorate the 100th anniversary of WW1, especially honouring all those who served in the Great War and the brave men who secured our victory in Europe and against Japan seventy years ago.
The Wiltshire Poppy Ball was a huge success, and featured a band of HM Royal Marines from Lympstone and the Military Wives Choir from Shrivenham Defence Academy. The event raised funds for ‘Walking With The Wounded’, a charity which helps to retrain and re-skill wounded service personnel and support them in finding new careers outside the military, and the Royal British Legion. All proceeds from the event are being split between the two charities, I would like to say a huge thank you to the Rotary Club of Swindon Thamesdown for organising such a fantastic evening.
On Sunday, I joined residents (young and old) at the Wyvern Theatre for the annual Festival Of Remembrance. It was particularly heartening to see the Air Training Cadets, Army Cadets and Sea Cadets make such a significant contribution to proceedings. I know that there were many proud parents in the audience. My thanks go to all those who took part and who helped raise funds for Swindon’s Poppy Appeal.
Like many other Swindon residents, members of my family have served in our armed forces, and I am so proud to attend events like this as South Swindon’s representative and in a personal capacity. As a community, we are rightly proud of Swindon’s long-standing links with the armed services. I know that the Poppy Appeal will enjoy a lot of support from us as we remember the debt of gratitude we owe to all those brave men and women in the Armed Forces community who help to keep our country safe, as well as the significant contribution that Swindon’s residents make to today’s Army, Royal Navy and RAF. I very much hope we can smash last year’s £72,000 total!
On a separate note, Parliament Week, will shortly commence across the country. The campaign, will runs 16-22nd November, is designed to engage and connect people of all ages with Parliament, its work, and MP’s like me. It is a great opportunity to generate discussion and debate about democracy in the UK, and it reaches many people who have never interacted with Parliament or Parliamentarians before.
Like last year, I’ve been writing to the heads of schools as well as lots of different organisations in my constituency to encourage them to take part. There are lots of different ways you can get involved – put on an event such as a debate, exhibition, or lecture, or visit the Parliament Week website for more ideas. Become a Parliament Week partner and, along with organisations from across the UK, add your voice to this exciting project.
For more information about Parliament Week go to www.parliamentweek.org.
As ever, I’ll be hosting regular surgeries in my constituency office and in various locations around Swindon. My team are currently working to improve the way in which my surgeries are advertised – details to follow shortly. Please get in touch with me if you would like to attend one of my regular advice surgeries by sending an email to email@example.com or phoning my constituency office on 01793 533393. I look forward to hearing from you.