On 8 September, Bill Wiggin MP was one of over 200 Members of Parliament who came together to support Macmillan Cancer Support’s latest campaign. The charity used its well loved World’s Biggest Coffee Morning reception in Parliament to launch a new report “Cancer Nursing on the line”.
The report calls for a Cancer Nurse Fund to invest in training the next generation of cancer nurses, whose numbers need to double by 2030 to ensure that people living with cancer get the support they need.
At the event Bill spoke with Macmillan professionals and heard about the concerns of people living with cancer.
It is clear that specialist cancer nurses do an invaluable job in supporting people through their illness: from diagnosis, to treatment, and beyond.
But Macmillan’s report highlights that the cancer nurse crisis has now left more than half a million people with cancer in the UK (21%; 630,000) with a lack of support. This can have serious implications, with almost half of all people (44%) who were diagnosed with cancer in the last two years, and lacked support, experiencing at least one potentially serious medical implication as a result, such as ending up in A&E, not knowing if they were talking their medication correctly or what side effects to look out for.
As the NHS recovers from the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, we must build back stronger and better. A shortage of over 3,000 nurses in England is impacting how the NHS can care for cancer patients in North Herefordshire and indeed, across our nations. We must grow and back our specialist cancer nurse workforce in order to be set up for the future.
The Macmillan event on 8 September allowed Bill to show support and solidarity with the specialist cancer nurses who do so much to help the growing population of those living with cancer, which is set to rise to 4 million by 2030.
The residents of North Herefordshire deserve to get the very best out of cancer services, should they ever need them. By continuing to work with Macmillan Cancer Support on the crucial issues they champion, Bill will work to ensure that local people get the support that they deserve through their illness.
If you or a loved one has been impacted by cancer, Bill would welcome hearing their experiences of living with cancer, the impact a diagnosis has had and how he might be able to help.
The Visit Herefordshire Tourism Forum, which took place at Hereford Cathedral on Wednesday 8th September, has been hailed a great success. Taking place in glorious sunshine, the event was well attended by around 200 people representing all sectors of the Herefordshire visitor economy including experts in tourism from outside the county such as the founding editor of Wanderlust travel magazine and Visit England.
After a welcome coffee in the Lady Arbour Garden the Cathedral Nave played host to a series of tourism presentations. Starting with the main addresses from Mandy Thorn, Chair of the Marches LEP who highlighted the successes of the Herefordshire tourism economy’s collaboration, overcoming recent challenges and making effective use of the LEP’s tourism recovery funds.
“Making funding* available to support the proposal developed by Herefordshire Business Board and Herefordshire Council in the darkest hour for Herefordshire’s tourism industry, when flooding and Covid hit the county, was hugely important and we couldn’t be more delighted with the way this money has been put to use. The campaign has re-energised tourism and it shows the benefits of what can be achieved when partners come together for the common good.”
Next up, Jo Hilditch, Chair of the Tourism Steering Group, presented the main results and successes of the LEP funded tourism campaign over the last 12 months including new branding, the launch of the new Visit Herefordshire website with almost 500 businesses already signed up and an advertising campaign which includes a new TV advert. All these activities working effectively to attract the target audiences and visually harness the county’s tourism DNA.
She then proceeded to outline the high levels of engagement with the new website attracting over 100k unique users since its launch in March. Amongst other results outlined was a value of over £1million worth of press coverage generated from the PR campaign alone with the county hosting 30 high profile press and digital influencers over the year campaign period including most of the top national newspaper titles.
“We were delighted to welcome so many industry colleagues involved in promoting Herefordshire to the Cathedral today. We look forward to building on the busy summer season as we attract visitors for autumn and into the winter and Christmas season. As we market the destination externally, we also encourage stakeholders within the county to support the next phase of the tourism journey by finding out more about the Hereford BID at www.herefordshirecountybid.co.uk,” Hilditch continued.
Joe Evans, Chairman of the Herefordshire County BID then outlined the process of the Destination BID and called for support from the visitor economy,
“The Destination BID represents a fantastic opportunity for all those involved in the visitor economy, including independent retailers, to come together and deliver an exciting programme of improvements centred around communication, collaboration and connectivity. It is not only the natural way of continuing the work of the Visitor Economy Group to inspire people to holiday here as, but also has broader ambitions and is a way of attracting new talent and investment for the long term,” explained Evans.
“Smaller businesses, and those already in the Hereford City BID will be exempt from the levy, though the BID working groups will be open to all. The business plan outline will be ready for the launch of the ballot with voting taking place in November and a result in early December,” he added.
From outside the county the forum welcomed Lyn Hughes, founding editor of travel magazine Wanderlust as well as Robin Tjolle from Visit England’s Discover England Fund (DEF).
Lyn presented an insight into the travel landscape sharing her knowledge:
“Media are now taking the UK seriously as a proper travel destination, not just one for short breaks. It is the wide opinion amongst UK travel operators I have spoken to that the staycation travel boom is here to stay. I believe the future for UK tourism, and for Herefordshire as a hidden gem, is very bright.”
Robin Tjolle from Visit England took to the podium to reinforce Lyn’s sentiments and congratulated Visit Herefordshire and partners on the recent campaign activity, “We are looking forward to working with Visit Herefordshire as the voice of the county, supporting where we can with training and giving businesses the tools to get them ready for the return of the international market.”
The final speaker was Ellie Chowns, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Herefordshire Council who said,
“Quality of life is core to Herefordshire’s DNA and this focus chimes with a shift in public mood. Zero carbon, nature rich Herefordshire is the focus going forward. We are confident that this boom in staycations won’t be a flash in the pan so let’s all work together as a visitor economy community so that we can truly flourish.”
“The council has been very pleased to be part of the Steering Group in helping to secure and deliver the LEP funding along with the Business Board. We are very grateful for the time, drive and enthusiasm of the businesses that made the first phase of the campaign a real success. I am very pleased that the council has been able to commit a further £350,000 of Covid Recovery funding to continue this great work,” added Chowns.
Thanks to the event’s master of ceremonies, Julian Vaughan from the Green Dragon Hotel who summed up the day by saying,
“We can all feel very proud that Herefordshire is back on the map and we’re attracting people to spend their money in our county. The new brand gives us all this platform and let’s look forward to continued collaboration.”
After the presentations delegates enjoyed lunch in the Cathedral Cloisters, dining on Herefordshire beef and local apple juice while networking and making the most of the exhibition featuring all the tourism information centres of the market towns as well as Hereford City, in the courtyard gardens.
The afternoon’s interactive workshops covering social media, media relations, website and sustainability were also well received and attended.
I understand there are many different concerns regarding the ongoing situation in Afghanistan and I hope you find it helpful to know my views on the matter as it now stands.
Twenty years ago, in 2001, the United States suffered the most catastrophic attack on its people since the Second World War, in which 67 British citizens also lost their lives, at the hands of murderous terrorist groups incubated in Afghanistan.
In response, NATO invoked Article V of its Treaty, for the first and only time in its history, and the UK, amongst others, joined the US in going into Afghanistan in order to destroy Al Qaeda’s presence there.
As our Prime Minister said in the House, the UK succeeded in that core mission.
The UK can be extremely proud of what has been done in Afghanistan over the last 20 years and we owe an immense debt of gratitude to the 150,000 British personnel who fought in Afghanistan, in particular the 457 who sadly lost their lives as well as those who sustained life-changing injuries, in service of this mission.
These men and women saved lives, denying terrorists a safe haven to launch attacks against the UK and our allies.
Special mention must be given to over 600 troops that remain in Afghanistan, ensuring safe passage to the airport for those who are to be evacuated.
Their service and sacrifice enabled development that has improved millions of lives and transformed Afghan society.
We carried our share of the NATO burden and gave hope to a generation of Afghan people.
It cannot be forgotten however, that the imposition of Western values may not be conducive to the way of life of a majority of Afghan people and we must accept that.
In North Herefordshire, we are lucky to have more than our fair share of high-ranking former military officers as residents.
I spoke with a retired General over the weekend to get his informed view on the subject.
In our discussions he reminded me that the original decision to withdraw from Afghanistan came over 10 years ago when President Obama announced all troops would be leaving.
Since then, the Taliban only had to wait for their moment to re-emerge in the country having been given ample warning that foreign forces would leave. They even announced this as their policy.
Though it may seem easy to seek to blame the US in the immediacy, we must be sure to remember key points in this two-decade intervention.
This remains pertinent as the Foreign Secretary seems to be at fault in the eyes of the media for a situation he would not have been able to prevent in a telephone call to his outgoing Afghan counterpart.
I am pleased that the Ministry of Defence has put provisions in place to support the safe evacuation of entitled personnel, British nationals, and former Afghan staff who risked their lives serving alongside UK Armed Forces.
We have a duty of care to these people that must be upheld.
Thousands of locally employed Afghan staff who risked their lives supporting our military efforts have already been relocated to the UK with thousands more in the pipeline for evacuation before our drawdown is complete.
I am encouraged that the Prime Minister has also committed to continuing to support Afghanistan and the wider region after the drawdown is complete.
He has doubled the amount of humanitarian and development assistance that we had previously committed to Afghanistan this year, with new funding, taking it up to £286 million.
A new and bespoke resettlement scheme has also been announced with the potential of accommodating up to 20,000 of the most vulnerable over the long-term.
Please be assured that I will continue to monitor the situation very closely.
I have enclosed below copies of letters I received from the Prime Minister and the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
I was pleased to welcome Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to discuss the ongoing Phosphate situation in the Wye, Lugg and all our rivers.
Minister Pow visited a farm in Brampton Abbott to discuss how we resolve diffuse pollutions in our rivers.
I have been campaigning for improvements to this pressing issue as it is holding back housebuilding and frustrating local construction companies, as well as people with planning permission who are not allowed to complete their building projects.
This meeting was another step forward but of course there is still much to be done.
It is important that farmers who are paying for expensive fertilizer, keep it on their land as it is not in their interest to lose it or indeed any of their soil, into the rivers.
Farmers clearly do not wish for this to happen either although there are some who could do more, most are already working to prevent erosion and soil loss.
What is not helping is the inherent blame culture surrounding this contentious issue, this should stop and be replaced with a joined-up approach to create solutions that will benefit all.
It will require the work of not just the Government but the Environment Agency, Welsh Water, Local government and of course their Welsh equivalents, as this is a cross-border issue.
I will be meeting again with the Environment Agency in the coming weeks to look at a few North Herefordshire flood spots and discuss potential improvements.
If we can get these projects sorted out in the summer, then we avoid the misery of flooding in the winter.
There are plenty of opportunities to find solutions, and I will continue to work on getting these realised as soon as possible.
Recently I wrote to the Chief Executive of Historic England following the announcement of substantial grants for local arts organisations to create and deliver community-led cultural activities on their high streets.
I was keen to ensure that the funding would be spent in a way that would improve the historical value of Leominster.
I was delighted to receive a most encouraging reply which can be viewed below.
I was delighted to see a stand at the Leominster market in Corn Square offering free home-testing kits for COVID-19.
Testing is central to our response to this virus, helping us to understand more about the spread and reduce infection rates.
I pay tribute to people like Debbie Baker who are working so hard to keep us safe by manning these stalls and helping the Government expand its community testing which is such a key tool for our progress back to normality.