I have just finished sending out my Christmas cards to people across the Forest and fellow MPs. I have had lots of wonderful entries to my Christmas card competition this year, including runners up Isla and Lucas, but this year’s winning design was by Bryanna, aged 10, from Coalway Junior School. Bryanna’s lovely nativity scene is now adorning the mantlepiece of, amongst others, the Prime Minister. Thank you to all the children who entered.
As this is my last column before Christmas, I thought this would be a good opportunity to reflect on the year.
It would be fair to say that 2022 has not been without its turbulence. We’ve all been shocked by Putin’s barbaric war in Ukraine but I have been humbled by the number of families in the Forest who have opened their doors to Ukrainian refugees at their time of need, and my office has been glad to play its part in helping them get to safety.
The war has also disrupted global supply chains and led to high inflation at home. However, Rishi Sunak’s Government is working hard to get this under control and is providing an unprecedented package of support to families this Winter, capping energy prices and providing further targeted help to those most in need.
We also said goodbye to her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was an honour to be in Westminster Hall to receive her coffin, and to join tributes across the Forest.
All of this aside, there is much cause for positivity here in the Forest of Dean. Fantastic progress is being made on our successful £20 million Levelling Up Fund bid with work underway on projects in Hartpury, Cinderford and Five Acres.
We have also seen the new AccXel centre in Cinderford, an industry leading construction training centre, take on its first apprentices – helping local young people get into high skilled employment. Also, I am pleased to say that ground has broken on building our new community hospital and plans are underway for new health centres in Coleford and Lydney.
I would like to wish all of my constituents a safe, joyous and very Merry Christmas.
This article was first published in The Forester newspaper.