I cannot pretend that trying to work out what to write about this week is not a little tricky, as I am somewhat distracted by the Big Day, of which more in a moment. But it seems that fate has lent me a hand, as last Friday I had a day in Ipswich with a good deal of family activity – one that ties in nicely with some of the things that are filling my mind.
Liz Hiller and I met not long after I became your MP and we have been involved with a few community projects since. Then, not so long ago, Liz came to me to tell me about the experience she had had when her little daughter was born with a very serious medical condition. She introduced me to Bliss, the charity that helps fund research into premature and sick babies, and helps support families through those most difficult times. Liz had been helped by Bliss and she wanted to give something back.
So, last Friday, I went to Christchurch Park for the latest in her fundraising events – a buggy push, where mums would take their children on a five kilometre trot round the park, all in aid of Bliss. Kelly Goody, a fitness trainer who specialises in helping mums get back into shape after giving birth, put us all through a wamr-up, and you’ll be glad to know there was one man among them, looking silly attempting some star jumps – your MP.
Everyone had been asked to “pimp up” their buggies and I was asked to judge the winning entry. It is a joy of this job that you do a new thing almost every day and judging this little competition goes to prove that! And then I set them off and into the distance went a troupe of happy mothers, pushing their (amazingly quiet) little ones through the green sward of Christchurch Park.
What a trooper Liz is: she raised over £700 for Bliss and, as importantly, raised awareness of this great charity.
Sports Equipment from Sainsburys
Later that day, I popped along to Cliff Lane Primary School to meet the school council and some of the employees of Sainsbury’s in Upper Brook Street. An odd combo, you might think, but there is a reason and I’ve done it before. Many of you will know Sainsbury’s Active Kids voucher scheme, where you collect vouchers, your kid hands it in at their school, and the school can then claim sports equipment for free. It’s a great idea, not least because it helps children to understand the connection between eating and keeping healthy.
Anyway, Cliff Lane is the champion collector of vouchers in Ipswich and they wanted to hand over another hoard to Sainsbury’s. It was going so well until an open bag full of paper vouchers and a gust of wind conspired to turn the forecourt into a jumble of ticker-tape, teachers, Sainsbury’s people, me, two of my team and a whole load of primary school children desperately trying to catch and return the precious vouchers. The haul so far had certainly had an effect, as the Cliff Lane children showed themselves to be more than up for this very energetic task!
So – why am I distracted? Because I am getting married today to Sarah. We got engaged in December last year and now the moment we have been planning for since then has finally come. It is the happiest of times. I shall tell you all about it next week but in the meantime I hope you have the loveliest of weekends.