It has been another busy month in the Hexham constituency, with plenty of visits, surgeries and brilliant achievements to celebrate.
One of the highlights has been the incredible success of Kevin MacLean, Head Chef at the Rat Inn in Anick, at the Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year competition.
I nominated Kevin and after getting down to the final four, he took part in a cook-off and was announced the overall winner at a ceremony at the House of Commons.
The Rat Inn is one of many excellent pubs we have in Tynedale and Ponteland, and I am delighted that Kevin has been recognised for his great food.
I had the pleasure of welcoming three students from Queen Elizabeth High School in Hexham to Westminster to hear all about their experiences of volunteering whilst taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS).
The students met Charity Minister Tracey Crouch to discuss their experiences, as well as how we can get more young people involved in volunteering in their community.
Last year, young people in the North East contributed more than 136,000 volunteering hours through NCS, which is open to 16 and 17-year-olds. I am always incredibly impressed with the change NCS makes to the lives of students.
Rural businesses are a vital part of our community, and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Otterburn-based coach business Howard Snaith, where I met the owner and staff.
I was shown around the depot, which is home to the business’ head office and fleet of 40 coaches. Howard Snaith employs many local people and it was great to meet some of them. It is so important that we support our local businesses and help them to thrive.
January 27 was Holocaust Memorial Day and I marked it in Westminster by signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment to pledge my commitment to the day and honour those murdered during the Holocaust, while also paying tribute to the extraordinary survivors.
Holocaust Memorial Day is dedicated to remembering the millions of people murdered in the Holocaust and subsequent genocides. It was very important to me to reflect on the tragic events and pay tribute to the survivors. We must all ensure that we never forget the horrifying events of the past.
My Hexham Constituency Community Champion Awards, which celebrate the extraordinary achievements of local people, continue to be a great success.
I was delighted to present an award to Kevin Thompson, a greenkeeper at Tynedale golf course. Kevin rescued a dog walker who fell into the River Tyne. Thankfully, the man and his two dogs were unharmed. It was great to meet Kevin and hear all about his bravery.
I recently received a lovely letter from the Salvation Army, thanking me for the delivery of toys and food it received as part of my Christmas Toy Appeal, and I would like to pass on its thanks to everyone who kindly donated toys.
The donation helped make Christmas special for 95 families and 200 children. I am delighted that, together, we were able to make Christmas magical for so many.
Preparations are well under way for my Ageing Well Spring Information Fair on Friday, March 2, from 10am to noon, at St Mary Magdalene Parish Hall in Prudhoe, in association with Ageing Well and Northumberland County Council.
The fair will bring together local community groups, charities, businesses and Government bodies that serve or help older people. Everyone is welcome to attend so come along and find out everything you need to know about health, wellbeing, benefits and local activities for older people.
As always, visits, meetings and surgeries have continued all over the constituency. If I can help with problems that constituents may have, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.