Last week, in what I assume was an error during editing, my letter ended abruptly, mid-sentence. Indeed I did return to the constituency, but there was so much more to say. On Saturday I attended a service for the commemoration of Lanoe George Hawker, from Longparish, who became a British flying ace during World War 1 and was awarded the Victoria Cross 100 years ago in 1915. He was clearly much admired by the people of Longparish, and his eventual death, in a dogfight with the infamous German pilot the Red Baron, is marked with a stained glass window in St Nicholas’ Church in the village.
Last weekend there was also a service of commitment at St Margaret’s Church in, Wellow, for its 800 year anniversary. St Margaret’s is a particularly special church for me, it has been my family church for my whole life and I am always very happy to play a part in celebrations there. It is also the final resting place of Florence Nightingale, perhaps the most famous resident of the immediate Romsey area.
However, it was not wholly a weekend of celebration, with the shocking news West Tytherley Village Shop had been raided in the early hours of Saturday morning. Village shops are an integral part of many communities and the village has been out in force to help clear up the mess left behind. There is even a ‘Just Giving’ page to help support the shop at this difficult time.
I was glad to hear the Police and Crime Commissioner say tackling rural crime is a priority for police in Hampshire. At a time when village shops are struggling more than ever to stay open in the service of their communities it is heart breaking for all involved when incidents such as this occur.
I look forward to meeting with constituents this week to discuss the issues that matter most to them. Parliamentary recess is an opportunity for MPs to spend greater time in their constituency and attend events which the Parliamentary calendar would usually prevent. Far from being a summer holiday, as is often portrayed, my diary is at times busier than when the House is sitting.
On Saturday 1st August I will be holding my regular drop-in surgery at the Mill Arms in Dunbridge between 9:30 and 11:00, no appointment in necessary.
July 21st 2015
The Romsey Male Voice Choir is a real favourite of mine and I enjoyed their concert on Saturday night. They have been invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall next year and I very much hope to be able to go and see them there.
Sunday saw the annual parade of the Romsey Carnival which was, as ever, a fantastic display from the people of our town. It is an opportunity for people from many different backgrounds to come together and delight the crowds with their dazzling floats. My thanks and congratulations go to the carnival committee who always do a fantastic job year after year; and to the members of the Romsey Old Cadets who managed to get me dancing in the street!
This week began with a visit from the 21st Romsey (Nursling and Rownhams) Scout Troop. I’m always delighted to welcome groups to Parliament; few people get the chance to visit this magnificent building and I think a visit to the heart of our democracy can be inspirational for people of all ages. The visit was all the more special for one young man who was invested into the scouting movement in the ancient Westminster Hall under the flag of the Troop – just steps from where Nelson Mandela once addressed Parliament – I suspect he may be the first scout to have done this.
I took part in a television interview regarding the review of rules of school admission for summer-born children. Statistics show that children born in the summer are a third more likely to experience learning difficulties than those born earlier in the year. The review will, hopefully, end with a proposal to allow parents to have the final say on deferring admission for children who may otherwise be starting school only weeks after their fourth birthday.
I will be returning to the constituency later in the week to hold my usual surgeries with constituents before taking part in the commemoration of Major Lanoe George Hawker, from Longparish, who became a British flying ace during World War 1 and was awarded the Victoria Cross before being killed in a dogfight with the infamous German pilot the Red Baron in 1916.
July 14th 2015
Last weekend saw a large number of wonderful events across the constituency and in the wider area. Whilst all of these undoubtedly provoke policing, road traffic and other challenges, we are lucky to have such a vibrant arts community in Hampshire. I visited the annual Romsey Beggars Fair on Saturday morning, followed by an interesting visit to Art Asia’s Southampton Mela which showcased music, dance and food from across South Asia. It is so encouraging to see the thriving Asian communities in Southampton do such a fantastic job of showcasing different cultures and educating people in such an enjoyable way.
On Wednesday I attended a presentation by my constituent Jim Davidson OBE on behalf of his charity Care After Combat. The charity works to support vulnerable ex-service personnel, through various initiatives, including those who have found themselves in the prison system and others who suffer from drink or drug dependency. This is such an important charity which helps those who are often sadly forgotten by many in society.
I am always delighted to be able to take part in the opening of new businesses within the constituency, but also to be involved in celebrating the success of local businesses which continue to go from strength to strength. On Thursday I opened the new premises of Chilworth Technology, a company which started life in Chilworth Manor while the Southampton University Science Park was still being constructed. The company now has offices worldwide, but retains its headquarters in Chilworth. It is excellent to see local companies becoming so successful, particularly when the majority of their employees are local people.
On Friday I look forward to meeting constituents during my usual surgery appointments. During the weekend I will be attending the concert of the Romsey Male Voice Choir, which is always a pleasure and on Sunday I will be joining many thousands of Romsey residents to watch the procession of the carnival through the town centre.