With all that’s going on at home and abroad, it’s important to remember those who’ve served and especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice. They fought and died for our freedom.
I just wanted to highlight something that happened recently. A gentleman phoned my constituency office a few weeks ago asking to meet.
Philip and his wife, Karen, moved to North West Durham a couple of years ago and wanted to pay their respects to their nephew, Danny Simpson, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, age 20, with several of his comrades.
We met, just before 1100, near the cenotaph in Consett for Saturday’s Armistice Day. Philip laid a wreath in memory of Danny and the other lads who died that day.
On the wreath, the message simply read “the band of brothers.” On the reverse he listed the names Danny and the other lads lads who died that day from Danny’s Battalion.
I’m not ashamed to say I had to swallow hard to, just about, hold back a tear or two as he laid his wreath and then came back to stand next to me in silence.
He and Karen insisted on taking me for a coffee afterwards. They chatted about their nephew and some of the fundraising they’d done and still do for forces charities.
I mention this because I want to highlight that, behind every name, carved on every memorial, is a family, friends and loved ones.
Today’s turnout in Consett was amazing, as ever, and I’d like to thank the councillors who laid wreaths on my behalf at services I couldn’t attend: Patricia Jopling, aka Crook Conservative Councillors, Doug Oliver your Lanchester Conservative Councillor and Luke Holmes for stepping up in Willington. Over the last few days I’ve popped by to Stanhope, Wolsingham, Tow Law and Dipton myself and laid a wreath as your Member of Parliament.
The passage from Laurence Binyon’s poem is so poignant at this time:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning. We will remember them.