I wanted to wish you every happiness this Christmas and a restful festive period.
Some in Parliament and the media would have us all talk of nothing but Brexit, Article 50, second referendums and the PM’s prospects for survival. I try to get the balance right.
Like every MP, I have learned a great deal about Brexit, trade agreements; obscure legislation and things about Norway and Liechtenstein I never thought I would need to know.
But, even my work in Parliament is firmly rooted in the life of the 30 towns and villages of Don Valley.
Each week, I look forward to returning to my Doncaster home; and enjoy running from place to place to support community events, visit schools, projects or businesses, and holding surgeries before I have to head back to Parliament on the Monday.
I continue to hold a surgery in every ward, every month; as I have for twenty one years. In the last year, my office has handled 2,134 cases.
Getting ready for my 22nd Christmas as a local MP, I am very thankful for the many people who have helped with my visits or surgery venues; or invited me to join their projects, events, school assembly, or local fete. In 2018, I have visited 9 Schools and 28 community organisations; taken part in 17 business-related visits and events; and held 9 meetings with local service providers, such as the Council, police and NHS.
I have seen first-hand over two decades how much our communities gain from thriving schools, active parish councils, community volunteers and supportive local businesses. I’ve seen how, at important moments, local churches bring the community together. I’ve seen many people who went that extra step to ensure the community comes together, local heroes are honoured; food banks and refuges keep open; and those who risk isolation are not left in loneliness.
I appreciate the difficulties faced by our police, our NHS, our public servants, many of whom will work over Christmas to keep our communities safer, our transport running, and patients cared for.
Whatever faith or belief you have, Christmas is a special time. However, busy we are, it reminds us of the importance of family and friends. The Christmas holiday gives me chance to spend real quiet time with those closest to me; to recharge the batteries and get ready for another busy year. Many of us have events or visitors that signal that Christmas has begun. For me, when our local Methodist church choir comes round carol singing, I know Christmas has arrived.
To everyone who, in their own way, helps to make our communities stronger or friendlier, I say a big thank you.
Enjoy your Christmas holiday and I hope we meet in 2019.