Local Heroes

Last week in the House of Commons I raised the issue of the special help which children with speech and language impairments need, and how it could be improved.  The Children and Families Bill is intended to make it easier for parents to navigate the system of support, but it's important to ensure that this will happen.

My interest in this issue has arisen from the meetings I have had with local parents, some of whom I met again in Westminster last week, about the problems they have had with children who have autism.

Another one of these parents is Darrell Luff, a customer service manager at Arundel railway station, who is organising a 60-mile bike ride which he is undertaking this Sunday with friends to raise funds for Autism, Sussex.  I met with Darrell on Friday to wish him luck, and you can sponsor his team effort by visiting www.justgiving.com/Carlos-Freitas.

On Saturday I visited the Storrington Village Show, where I met the local First Responders team.  They provide vital support to the Ambulance Service and to the community, and can often be first on a scene of an emergency because they are in the local area.

Like all the First Responder teams in our villages they need volunteers, so please ring 01903 740583 if you think you can help.  No previous medical knowledge is needed as the Ambulance service provides full training to the responders.

On Monday I visited Slindon Forge, the fantastic new community shop and cafe in the village.  I was incredibly impressed by this, the third community shop in my constituency (the other two are in Amberley and Kirdford).

In fact, across the country there were just 23 community shops 20 years ago, but now there are over 300.

These shops rely on volunteers to start them and keep them going, and without the amazing efforts of Mike Imms and his team the Forge would never have happened.

Just a few hours later on Monday, I attended the official opening of the Arundel Museum by the Duke of Norfolk, and it's the same story.  Committed volunteers, led by the indomitable Pauline Carder, have made this brilliant new museum a reality. 

What's the common thread to these stories?  Local heroes, supporting local charities, doing so much for our local communities.  A huge thank you to them all.

Christopher N Howarth