I CANNOT be the only one saying, both privately and out loud, ‘where is this year going?
My children tell me I say this every year but even they now think the pace of time is quickening.
But, as I write, we are approaching the ‘year end’ for schools and indeed for Parliament. So, I wanted to begin by issuing a few end of term thank yous.
Thank you to all our North Dorset teachers who have worked so diligently to prepare students for exams and throughout the year. My eldest daughter has just completed her GCSE mocks while my youngest her SATS.
I have seen at first hand the levels of support given to local pupils. So, thank you to all the school staff and best of luck to those awaiting important exam results.
Trundling around the constituency between meetings, advice surgeries and so forth anyone else doing the same will have noticed crops ripening in our fields, newly shorn sheep and our many dairy herds producing our wonderful North Dorset milk.
The food supply chain pressures created by the situation in Ukraine only go to underscore just how vital maximising sustainable UK food security is.
So, my second thank you is to our farmers who work tirelessly to keep our population fed. I have long advocated for, and indeed rebelled in Parliament on the point, that food standards must be taken into account when entering free trade deals.
Free trade is a good thing, as most people recognise, but it cannot be absolutely free, that is potentially penalising UK domestic production by opening up our markets to food, or indeed other commodities, raised or produced to standards lower than those that prevail in the UK. To do so creates an incredibly unfair and unlevel playing field.
The Prime Minister’s recent, very clear commitment to this principle, has been welcomed by local farmers as it has by me – so, I suppose I should thank the Prime Minister, too?
Throughout North Dorset, sports days, village and church fetes, open gardens and other events are taking place. They are vital sources of money raising but, and perhaps more importantly, they are key ways of bringing local communities together in a common and shared endeavour.
They are, I believe, an intrinsic part of the fabric of rural life.
These events, despite what some might think, do not just happen. Months of planning, organisation and praying for fine weather are required. A plucky army of volunteers put in the slog to make our communities communities.
So, my final thank you, is to all of them for all they do. They help make and keep North Dorset the special place it is.