Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Prudhoe and the Falklands

From the town of Prudhoe in my constituency, Able Seaman Derek Armstrong, a trained deep sea diver, died when the HMS Ardent was sunk on May 22nd 1982, in the Falklands War. Derek was only 22 years old and had attended the local school, Prudhoe Community High. The 'Derek Armstrong Memorial Award' is still presented each year to the best sportsperson.
Today I was able to welcome to the House of Commons students from the same school in Prudhoe: their visit on this particular day was entirely by chance - they were not to know that I had a debate on the Falkland Islands at 9.30. The students were economics students, led by their teacher Chris Shaw.
We met at 9am in Westminster Hall, before they went on their tour of the House, and discussed the Eurozone crisis, Alternative Vote, bankers bonuses, and my working week amongst other topics. I was able to tell them of the Falklands debate and discuss the Derek Armstrong award, and what it meant to the school. Following the House of Commons debate on the Falklands I then had to do the Newcastle Mayoral debate and then met Lord West to debate the Falklands on the BBC Daily Politics Show.
Before we went live I discussed with Lord West his service in the Falklands: he was in command of HMS Ardent, when the ship was sunk, and had known Derek Armstrong well. For me the day brought home the immediacy of the past and present conflicts, with everything coming back to a small town in Northumberland.
A very poignant day

Update: the BBC interview can be found here: