The lifting of restrictions on meeting people, albeit only outside at the moment, has meant my time in the constituency has become busier again.
I was very pleased to be able to catch up with John Chadwick, Head at the Endeavour School in Brentwood, to hear about the progress which is being made in bringing a sixth form to the school which will enable young people with special educational needs to continue their education at this wonderful place until they are 19.
The school has worked with the Ursuline Sisters to secure the use of additional land next to the school and ensure the new sixth form building will not take away any of the play area which, when I visited, was bathed in sun shine and full of daisies.
I was also able to meet outside Konch’s Kafe with Mike Hawkins and Paul Beresford from the Brentwood Business Partnership along with Council Leader Cllr Chris Hossack to discuss the future of Brentwood’s High street and the Council’s acquisition of the Baytree Centre. There is no doubt the High Street has lost some loved names during the pandemic, for a multitude of reasons, but all is not lost. I am confident that although there may be come changes, the town will bounce back stronger and more exuberantly than ever before.
Last week’s visits ended on a sombre note with a Service of Remembrance for HRH the Duke of Edinburgh at St Thomas of Canterbury Church, Brentwood, on the eve of the Duke’s pared down, but intensely beautiful funeral, at Windsor. Brentwood Town Hall was opened by Her Majesty Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1957, so the town was able to mark its connection with the Duke with due solemnity and respect.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s legacy is clear across the constituency, and his determination to introduce young people to the joys and pain of service and lengthy tent-based expeditions will continue through the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. I know many of my constituents have taken part in the scheme, to Bronze, Silver and Gold level and, having survived the privations of semi-cooked noodles eaten in the pouring rain somewhere (usually) in Wales, are justly proud of their achievements. Whilst Prince Philip’s death is a massive loss to the nation, the DofE Award Scheme lives on.