Helping people to live more fully

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

It is good to work with colleagues, fellow MPs and councillors in my party and in other parties too.

As this newspaper came out last week, I joined the leader and chairman of West Sussex County Council in Chichester’s County Hall for the youth engagement event organised by Helen Kenny, who is head of democratic services.

Councillors across the political spectrum heard powerful speeches by school and college students in a debate on voting at 16 and 17.

Gillian Keegan, the local MP, summed up the good points made by each side.

| Also in the news – history will repeat itself next month in a battle of the sexes at Worthing FC to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day; a Littlehampton pub and hotel claiming to be one of the South East’s most-haunted pubs has appeared on ghost-hunting TV programme Help! My House is Haunted; and entries have officially been opened for the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2019. |

It was not a surprise that the vote went in favour of engaging and trusting younger people to take part in voting. My brief contribution was simple: it will do some good; it can do no harm.

My neighbouring MP Tim Loughton has a positive record in engagement with the young. Political service at its best does not overlook the situations, the needs and the contributions of people at every age in every stage of life.

On Tuesday, Gillian and I were two of the three MPs who attended the hearing of the All-Party Group for Youth Affairs.

One witness spoke of the value of the National Citizen Service – see the website: ncsyes.co.uk.

She described helping people trapped or entangled in their adverse circumstances; she added that the experience could lead to understanding positive choices. Individual relationships matter to each of us.

We were advised not to see each project as a programme with a beginning, a middle and a conclusion: the impact, the power and the change in every one of us does not have a finishing date.

One academy described the opportunity as a week of adventure, a week discovering life skills, leadership and teamwork, followed by two weeks planning and delivering a community project, making a positive impact near home.

The celebration, the graduation, follows.

On Wednesday Worthing NCS graduates’ successes will be celebrated in the Assembly Hall, noting the group achievements and enjoying music performances by the young people.

On Saturday at St Symphorian’s church hall, former mayor and present councillor Charles James spoke about past events, particularly about the great ’87 storm, not the one in 1987 (or 1703) but the one in February 1287 as he talked about the famous Cinque Ports.

That storm reshaped the coast, leaving some ports some way inland and some towns washed into the sea.

Flood experts will also know of St Lucia’s Flood that devastated the Netherlands and northern Germany in December that year.

Older readers may recall how a similar high tide and low pressure created the exceptional storm surge in early 1953, resulting in over 2,000 deaths at sea and on land in England and Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The threatening Hurricane Florence approaching the Atlantic communities in the United States has potentially devastating consequences.

We are lucky to live in a country that is usually spared serious earthquakes, wild fires and plague.

That last thought is a reminder to take advantage of flu vaccinations, especially for the elderly: for the young, there are other important vaccinations too.

At the start of life, we give thanks for the dedication of members of the Royal College of Midwives.

On Wednesday I was present when they issued the 2018 Report on the State of Maternity Services: more midwives in training though still a shortage but with a better age-profile.

The number of births has dropped from the peak in 2012.

There is still the trend to more births to older mothers.

My mother said we ought to get on with it before she became too old to be a useful grandparent.

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