At this time of year I always take a moment to remember our servicemen and women who are currently serving overseas. There may not be as many this year as in recent years, but there are still thousands spending Christmas away from home and family.
Last month, I attended the Remembrance Service and Parade in Hemel Hempstead and yet again there was an incredible turnout. The parade, led by the Salvation Army Band, marched from the centre of Marlowes to the War Memorial at St John’s Church in Boxmoor.
At the service in St John’s it was an honour to read the poem In Flanders Fields by Canadian Lt Col John McCrae. It is an incredibly moving piece – all the more so when you consider it was written in May 1915 right in the middle of the Second Battle of Ypres.
On Armistice Day itself I joined the Royal British Legion Hemel Hempstead Branch at their service in the Marlowes.
It is clear by the overwhelming support shown by local residents at these events that the passage of time has done little to diminish the respect and recognition of the debt we owe to those who gave their lives in the wars of the last century.
The recent loss of lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere continue to remind us of the sacrifices made by our soldiers and I particularly think of the local Dacorum families who have lost loved ones in these conflicts.
Two British servicemen lost their lives in Afghanistan this year in a helicopter accident and one died here in the UK as a result of wounds sustained in Afghanistan in 2012. My thoughts are with their families as they face their first Christmas without them.
Last month, I was delighted by the turnout at the ‘Curry Night’ organised by Mel Cutmore of Martins Pond in Potten End. £4,650 was raised for the new charity ‘Care after Combat’. This charity has been set up by my good friend Jim Davidson who, after a lifetime of entertaining troops in the field, is now working to help provide professional assistance to service veterans who find themselves addicted to drink or drugs or in prison.
It’s a great charity and a great fundraiser in Potten End – I thank everyone who attended.
Finally, I wish you a very merry Christmas with your family and friends and for those who are apart from loved ones, for whatever reason, I hope that with today’s instant communication methods you can at least be in touch.