Sunday, 11 November 2012

A debt to our troops

 Remembrance Sunday is always the most important day of the year for me as an MP.

Today I was at Haydon Bridge, at the beautiful St Cuthberts Church. Last year I attended the church service in Prudhoe; the year before that I was at the Abbey in Hexham. The day has a powerful hold on our community, and the events in towns or villages are always well attended all across the County.
After the church service at St Cuthberts we then went outside to the war memorial where we laid our wreaths. Then the names of those local people who lost their lives in the 1st and 2nd World Wars were read out in a very moving ceremony. Then I stopped by the Methodist Church and had coffee with and spoke to locals who had been at the Haydon Bridge ceremony, before driving to Hexham. After the Parade, 2 minute silence,and the church service in Hexham's Abbey, every year the Town Council organises a lunch for many members of the community, and representatives of the local regiment, 39 RA. Their CO gave an excellent speech, which was notable for two comments in particular: first, he credited Derek Tiffin, and the organisers of the Hexham parade / service, when he said: "I have been in the army 22 years, and have never been to such a well organised parade." I am sure he was right - the Hexham Parade is run like a military operation. Then he asked us to remember 51 Battery of the 39RA, who are the troops presently serving in Afghanistan from the regiment. That particularly brought it home to all of us. During the lunch I also got a chance to chat in detail with some of the serving officers, the RSM, and their wives.
As always, I left the Rememberance Day Service, and the Lunch afterwards, in a sombre mood. The work of our forces, and the families who support them, is hard to describe, but recognised by all as being a credit to the nation. It is always a humbling day.