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Forces’ Covenant will be a priority

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Jo Churchill MP
Jo Churchill MP

What a week and what a conference! This year’s Conservative Party Conference was a buzz with meetings, panel discussions and talks from the future of cancer care to protecting the international reputation of UK universities.

For conference is that chance to meet with people who can help make a real difference both in the constituency and beyond; looking to what we can deliver in the next year. And now that the dust has truly settled on Birmingham, attention is turning to next week’s return of Parliament.

For me, the restart of Parliament is especially important as I return having been appointed a Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Mike Penning MP, Minister for the Armed Forces. It is a great honour to be appointed to this position and I am very much looking forward to supporting the Minister and the Ministry of Defence team in their duties. This appointment is especially exciting for me, for Bury St Edmunds constituency has an outstanding tradition of celebrating and commemorating our military history and fallen friends. Just a couple of weeks ago, a moving parade was held to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the triumph of ‘The Few’, as we remember the sacrifices made by the RAF fighter pilots on 15th September 1940.

We know that a number of US pilots volunteered to fly with the RAF despite their homeland’s neutrality law towards the war at the time. Yet little do we know that, during these events, Polish pilots fought closely alongside the British and established an unparalleled reputation for courage, commitment and extraordinary effectiveness in combat. The Hurricane of Hearts project, celebrates the collaboration of the British and Polish airmen during the Battle of Britain. It is this and more that I want to highlight in my duties as PPS.

Particularly as a champion of the RAF Benevolent Fund, I feel it is important to understand our history and the protections we owe to our servicemen and women, now and before. For as of 2014, there are an estimated 2.6 million UK armed forces veterans living in households across the UK. The Armed Forces Covenant ensures that no disadvantage should come to a member of the armed forces or their families, in their access to services and that special consideration is given in cases, where appropriate, particularly to those injured or bereaved. It is my priority to see that this Covenant protects the interests of service personnel and, importantly, their families through access to schools, employment, or health and social care.

And with just a few weeks to go ahead of Remembrance Sunday, I will be out in Bury St Edmunds selling poppies. Lest we forget the fallen but also our brave service leavers and serving personnel.

For more information about how you can get involved with this year’s appeal and the Royal British Legion, follow www.britishlegion.org.uk

-- Jo Churchill is MP for Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket