The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 13th November:

Seventy-five years on from VE Day and VJ Day, our armed forces have once again shown their dedication and patriotism by mobilising to protect us from the COVID-19 pandemic. They have stepped up in places like Liverpool to carry out mass testing, to help limit the transmission of the virus and save lives.

This week, we remembered the sacrifices of our armed forces and their families. Like hundreds of families across Barnsley, I stood on my doorstep for the two minutes silence on Sunday morning.

Whilst we could not come together in person, we joined together in spirit to pay our respects to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country.

Last week, I virtually met with representatives of the Royal British Legion to discuss the work they do and the current challenges they face due to the global pandemic. COVID-19 restrictions have had a huge impact on everyday life. Sadly, it is the most vulnerable in our community, who have been hit the hardest. Many veterans have struggled since March, both physically and mentally.

Remembrance is normally an occasion for veterans to come together and remember the sacrifices of their fallen comrades. This year was very different. Only a small number of veterans were able to participate in the ceremony at the Cenotaph on Sunday and, sadly, our physical ceremony here in Barnsley was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Thank you to those who laid wreaths and those who placed poppies in their windows. We have a proud tradition of supporting our armed forces personnel here in Barnsley. It is important that we continue to commemorate the sacrifices of troops, including those from the Barnsley Pals battalions, in the years to come.

It was an honour to record a message for Barnsley Council’s virtual Remembrance commemorations, to thank servicemen and women for their dedication, and remember the sacrifices of the generation of Brits who lived during the world wars, including my grandad who served in the RAF in WW2. 

This year marks seventy-five years since the end of the second world war and the restoration of global peace. As recent events have shown, our security can never be taken for granted. Our armed forces remain instrumental in protecting and keeping us safe.

We must never forget the sacrifices of brave servicemen and women.

And, we must never forget the fallen.

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