My Great Grandfather was an Army Chaplain in the Great War. Unlike so many he returned from the trenches and a family photo shows him blessing his village’s war memorial in 1922. He is surrounded by the mothers, wives, children of those who had been lost in the conflict. It was a privilege, nearly 100 years later, to be asked to take part in a similar ceremony in Crawley Down on Saturday where a new war memorial was unveiled in the heart of the village. Whilst first hand memory of the impact of the Great War dims there were villagers there whose close relatives did not return from the Second World War and whose names are inscribed.
Meanwhile the uniformed presence of the Yeomanry starkly reminded us that servicemen and servicewomen are today risking all to protect us and our way of life. My generation has been lucky never to have experienced mass war. Perhaps however this makes it more important that we contribute in other ways to making our society a better place.
In my Maiden Speech to the House of Commons, last week, I told them about our wealth of amazing local charities. After the debate I got back to Horsham in time to attend the AGM of the Samaritans. I was glad I did. It is a wonderful thing to able to speak on your behalf in the House of Commons. However I was acutely aware that at the Samaritans were many who, every night when they speak, are bringing hope to those that need a friend at the end of the phone. There are occasions, very few but they exist, when a speech in the House of Commons may possibly change the country. But every discussion held by the Samaritans can have an immediate impact on those who call.