Heene Primary School children plant Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy tree at Care for Veterans

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

On Thursday, Care for Veterans in Boundary Road, Worthing (previously named the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home, Giffard House) hosted the bright children of Heene Primary School when they planted one of the trees that will become part of The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy. Led by the Royal Commonwealth Society, there are initiatives in 53 Commonwealth countries.

As we give attention to the developing consequences of the proposed separation of the UK from the EU, moving on to agree future arrangements on our myriad links across the Channel and the North Sea, it is comforting to think that, in the decades and centuries to come, these trees will be growing and contributing to the environment we share across the world.

That day, women MPs from around the world gathered in the Common’s chamber for a debate 100 years after some women in the UK gained the vote.

My thoughts have been with friends near Malibu where drought and fire have threatened so many. Our exchanges stopped after I received this: “We stayed until the flames came over the hill. Helicopters dropped water. The smoke became so thick that it was impossible to breathe so we evacuated. The main house was still standing when we left.”

My unplanned diversion to help a grandchild was a gentler journey.

On Friday, the Youth Parliament held its debates at Westminster while I answered questions by cheerful pupils at West Park School. That was followed by a briefing at my constituency home by the NHS Trust which supports patients with mental health needs.

I met Virginia at Hares’ Smart car showroom in East Preston before bringing our friend and former councillor Mary Lermitte to the Conservatives’ Dinner in support of the Royal British Legion at the Chatsworth Hotel in Worthing.

The main talk was given by Colonel Rupert Wieloch. His military service included just about every conflict and peace effort during recent decades.

The hotel’s Michael Clinch has kindly succeeded Chris Spratt in leading the Town Centre Initiative. We thank Chris for his inspiration and dedication over many years.

Saturday’s fairs included the WI in Rustington and Christ Church in Portland Road, Worthing. I admire the growth at Christ Church over recent years.

I repeat my admiration for the successful service held there by Caroline Nicholls, High Sheriff of West Sussex. She had a jolly time with the Heene students at the tree planting.

On Sunday I gave the Remembrance address to a thousand full congregation in a chapel after the names of a thousand fatalities had been read. We have to recognise the failure to avoid unnecessary war; across the world we need to reduce the likelihood of high level persistent civil wars; and we should reflect when war was wrong and when war was wrongly avoided.

Monday’s funeral for Arun’s Derek Whittaker was a simple farewell and gathering of support for the family of a fine friend. Robert, his brother-in-law, filled in the parts of his life that may not have been familiar to all. The photographic record of his year as chairman of Arun District Council illustrated how the community can be brought together by civic service.

After four consecutive days in the constituency, I returned to the Finance Bill debate and to an offsite discussion on future trade arrangements at the Institute of Economic Affairs, a think-tank which, for more than 60 years, has contributed to knowledge and choices in public policy.

On Tuesday, I met BBC executives to discuss future broadcasting and what might happen to the licence concession for the elderly.

Later I had a detailed discussion with the housing minister about changing the law to make life safer and better for residential leaseholders.

The last hours were given to answering emails from groups on every side of the EU exit issues. Everyone feels strongly. If we cannot unite now, let us try to do so later.

| Read more – Southwick ‘does community proud’ as more than 1,000 attend Remembrance event; Remembrance Sunday: huge crowds in Littlehampton honour soldiers on Armistice centenary; Worthing Remembrance Sunday Service: thousands pay their respects to the soldiers of the First World War |

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