Earlier this week, our Prime Minister became the first world leader to address Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, via videolink, once again expressing the UK’s firm commitment in supporting the brave Ukrainian people in their fight against Russia.
The Prime Minister saluted the bravery and stoicism of the Ukrainian people and their fearless leader President Zelensky. Echoing words from Winston Churchill’s famous war-time speech, he said that this was Ukraine's finest hour - their courageous response to this heinous Russian invasion will be remembered and commemorated by future generations – not only in Ukraine, but in all nations that value freedom and democracy.
The Prime Minister also announced plans for the UK to provide £300 million of further military aid to Ukraine, which includes electronic warfare equipment and a counter battery radar system. This is in addition to the sophisticated Brimstone missiles and STORMER air defence vehicles the government announced for Ukraine last week.
We must continue to support the Ukrainian people in their efforts, both militarily and through our humanitarian aid initiatives. As the Prime Minister said during his speech, the UK will do everything it can to restore a free sovereign and independent Ukraine.
Locally, this week saw the opening of a new bookshop in Old Town. My friend Alex of Bert's Books opened his book shop in Hoopers Place – it has a great variety of books, including a fantastic selection of children's and young adult books. You can also enjoy some tea or coffee, or the lovely homemade cakes on offer.
I come from a family of shopkeepers, so supporting our local, independent retailers has always been close to my heart. This is something that I have taken an active interest in during my time in Parliament, as the former chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Retail and someone who regularly takes part in, and promotes, the annual Small Business Saturday campaign.
Bert’s Books is a perfect example of the fantastic independent shops we have here in Swindon, and it’s shops like this that bring a unique charm to an area. Please do pop in if you get a chance, you won’t be disappointed!
In Parliament, was also pleased to join Bowel Cancer UK to pledge my support for the Bowel Cancer Awareness Month campaign.
The goal of this campaign is to help raise awareness of the disease, stress the importance of early diagnosis, and encourage people to take part in the bowel cancer screening programme. I am pleased to be working with Bowel Cancer UK on this important issue, as this disease is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the second biggest cancer killer, with nearly 43,000 people diagnosed every year.
Thankfully, bowel cancer is treatable and curable, but especially if diagnosed early. Please therefore see the Bowel Cancer UK website for a list of the symptoms and further information, as early diagnosis could be the difference between life or death.
Finally, I am sure residents will join me in wishing a big congratulations to Swindon Supermarine for winning the Wiltshire Premier Shield this week at the County Ground! A well-deserved win and what an amazing way to finish the season – I can’t wait to see what the 2022/23 season will bring. Fingers now firmly crossed for Swindon Town making the playoffs, it will be a nail biter on Saturday!