When the final whistle blew on the Lionesses first Women’s World Cup football final, we were all gutted. Despite an incredible save by Mary Earps (and so great her shirts will now be available!) and Lauren Hemp hitting the bar, sadly it just wasn’t meant to be. But the heart-breaking loss displayed so much about the passion, the professionalism, and the sheer joy our women’s national football team play with. For young girls, boys, and fans across the country, the Lionesses produced an incredible display of spirit to inspire the nation. Next time!
The other big results in August came in the form of A Levels, AS Levels, GCSEs, T Level and vocational and technical qualifications (VTQ), that folk, both young and old, have just completed. Whatever the outcome, everyone can and should feel very proud of their achievements and there are many and diverse options available for the next stages.
On to parliamentary work, I recently joined with more than 100 cross-party MPs in writing to supermarkets calling for a 'Buy British' section on their websites so consumers can more easily support our brilliant local farmers. Consumers know how important buying British is to grow the economy, cut our carbon footprints and bolster the nation's food security. A simple change on a webpage would help them back homegrown produce and I’m excited to see results.
I've been busy right across the constituency. Recently I met with the Cumbria Police Federation to discuss how I can further support our brave officers who keep us safe; I have met with the Environment Agency about protecting our local environment. I met with the Penrith Rugby Club President to discuss funding opportunities and to wish everyone well for the upcoming season; and I dropped by Eden FM's revamped studio where they've increased output to help boost people's well-being and keep them informed. A personal highlight of recent weeks was on a visit to Beck Brow Alpacas of Cumbria, where as a vet I was given the honours of bottle feeding one of their adorable crias. The Hetheringtons are award-winning alpaca breeders, and their love for what they do really shone through. We discussed upcoming legislation that will tighten rules on livestock worrying as we try to protect alpacas and other species from the horrors of dog attacks.
The new session of Parliament is now upon us. This is perhaps a suitable time to pause and reflect on some of the important issues and campaigns that I have been working on:
On supporting local and public services: addressing the disparities in access to public services between urban and rural communities is a cornerstone of my campaigning. No one should be disadvantaged by their postcode and I’m working hard to back these vital services with promising results. I’ve worked closely with CHoC (Cumbria Health on Call) as they saved GP practices from closure in
Alston, Upper Eden and Glenridding. I’ve helped secure funding for community ownership projects like Croglin’s retired church. And I’ve been right across the constituency visiting schools to engage and educate our future citizens about their role in our political system.
On better connectivity: we need to strive for excellent connectivity, both physical and virtual. Government is pushing ahead with broadband rollout, upgrading a safer A66 and extending the £2 bus fare cap. For my part I’ve recently focused on getting 16-18-year-olds to sixth form, college and apprenticeships. With their travel not funded, I secured over half a million pounds to help local youngsters overcome transport challenges and improve their life outcomes through upskilling themselves. A big win for local young folk.
On building the economy: I’ve seen first-hand the incredible innovators driving businesses on our doorstep. From the incredible recycling team at the Aqua Pura plant, delivering on the economy and the environment, to the Quiet Site and Askham Hall which both won top prizes at Visit England's Awards for Excellence. I remain a voice for businesses, helping them thrive and contribute to local economic prosperity.
On protecting agriculture and the environment: farming can and should be profitable and sustainable, with high animal welfare and environmental standards at its heart. Our UK farmers are world leaders in this regard. Living in the landscape we do, farming represents a large portion of our economy, employs many people and supports a host of projects to boost nature. Farmers should be supported, and I've triggered many Parliamentary Inquiries to back British producers including investigations into Rural Mental Health and Food Security.
On improving animal welfare: as the only vet in the House of Commons, I feel it is my responsibility to use my position to help give a voice to the voiceless animals both wild and domesticated. In the United Kingdom, we have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but we can always do more. As such, I chaired the first session of our EFRA Committee Inquiry into Pet Welfare and Abuse. From puppy smuggling and dogs having their ears horrifically cropped, to horses being illegally exported for slaughter – we’ve seen a dramatic shift in these issues since the pandemic. A shift I hope to reverse with tougher sentencing for animal abusers and improved animal welfare measures.