Cradle to grave and the years between

Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing
Sir Peter Bottomley, MP for West Worthing

It has been a delight to meet school pupils at Westminster: the recent groups came from Goring and from Our Lady of Sion.

I congratulate them for their interesting questions and I thank their teachers and parents for coming too.

They will not mind, I trust, if I record that the most touching time of the week past was calling at St Mary’s Home in Worthing to be with a Ferring friend after her discharge from care in Worthing Hospital.

She was attending Mass. I slipped into a back row seat before moving forward when exchanging the Peace to sit with her. She was a teacher.

She has been an inspiration to me, showing throughout her life that individual acts of thoughtfulness and of kindness matter.

Particularly, she maintained a faithful companionship and she visited a fine Roman Catholic priest in his own retirement, being with him when he died.

One of my ambitions is to try to help growing numbers of constituents and people throughout our nation and all over the world to avoid unnecessary illnesses and disabling conditions.

On Tuesday I was one of the MPs who met experts in sexual health to review trends in anti-social disease.

The good news is that we are beginning to see the predicted drop in the numbers of cases of genital warts.

The bad news is that the statistics on more serious conditions are growing, especially for males.

The worse news is that the specialist clinics are having to turn away numbers who can benefit by treatment after appropriate diagnosis.

Some kindly associate my time at the Department of Transport with the development of the approach that has led to road deaths falling in number, for people in vehicles and for the more vulnerable on two wheels or on two feet.

On Sunday, after visiting a friend whose wife is living her dignified life with dementia, Virginia and I joined a musical afternoon to hear young singers supporting the English National Opera.

In addition to meeting musical dentists from Worthing, I was greeted by Nick Ross.

He and I serve as vice presidents of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, now IAM RoadSmart.

The president is Nigel Mansell: I watched him win the Silverstone F1 Grand Prix in 1987.

Even then, I could not squeeze into the cockpit of his car.

The point about Nick Ross is that he made the crucial point that there should be targets for deaths, more accurately targets for reduction in deaths, for each category of road users.

In health and sickness, the same approach can work.

School friends of mine, parliamentary colleagues had suffered polio.

People I met in India had lived with leprosy.

Smallpox has been eliminated.

Our international aid, 70 pence of each £100 of our annual wealth, helps.

We can be proud of that.

Pharmaceutical researchers, including Worthing’s GSK, have contributed much to vaccinations, to immunisations, and to the antibiotics that make treatable conditions that previously had bad consequences.

Each of us will die of something.

We can work together to let the cause more often be ‘old age’ rather than violence, road crash or communicable disease.

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