A very special Armistice Day

As the centenary of Armistice Day approaches, I’ve been privileged to be invited to some wonderful events around High Peak to commemorate the end of the First World War.

My youngest son and I thoroughly enjoyed the Tribute to Heroes at New Mills Art Theatre on Saturday with music by the Kinder Youth Choir and performances by young people, highlighting the sacrifices made by millions of men, women, children and animals during those long years.

It was a great honour to meet the veterans of the Royal British Legion Hayfield Branch who organised the performance to help young people to understand the real horror of the war and its impact.

The message of Armistice Day – that so many people sacrificed so much that we may live in peace in the future – seems especially relevant when young people are so often engaged in computer ‘war games’, which have no consequences.

It is important to support our veterans.  Whichever conflict they have served in, our armed forces have been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

There are over two and a half million veterans in Great Britain, including a million who are under retirement age.  I see too many young and middle-aged men from High Peak in my surgeries who have suffered injury, and cannot now work full-time, who need practical support with benefits and housing.

Many also need specialist support as they suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder owing to their horrific experiences whilst in service but find that the mental health support they need is not available.

When our ex-forces cannot live the life they had hoped for due to their service for their country, they should not have to suffer because our public services are stretched too thin.  When politicians speak of their support for armed forces, we need to make sure that we deliver for them in practical terms as well as warm words.

There is a tremendous amount of goodwill for our armed forces and veterans in High Peak, as we see from the legions of poppy sellers who do a wonderful job raising both money and awareness, and who I’ve been delighted to join again this year.

I know that there is also excellent local support from the Royal British Legion, SAFFA, the Salvation Army and the Armed Forces Breakfast Club which I was pleased to join earlier this year.

I cannot be at every service around High Peak so councillors are kindly laying wreaths for me while I join my son in the scouts in the parade at Whaley Bridge.  I know that all our local events will be very special for all involved, both young and old.