I wasn't born in Barnsley but I chose to make it home. And In the early hours of June 9th, the election results came in and I was asked to make make my first speech as Barnsley East's MP to a cheering crowd at the Metrodome. It was one of the proudest days of my life.
Most Barnsley folk are not wealthy but they're rich in talent. When you're not born ...into privilege good schools, hospitals and public services are important.
That's why after only a few hours sleep my team got to work setting up the constituency office so I can hit the ground running. My first official event was to present an award at the Best of Barnsley Awards. This was as fun as the first unofficial event - the the Elsecar Real Ale Festival. In that spirit, I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I think is the best of Barnsley.
For the last two months, I've zig zagged across the local area, speaking to hundreds of local people on the doorstep, visited NHS workers at the hospital, debated in front of an audience of teachers, met business owners, police officers and worked with some fantastic and committed volunteers. People are what make Barnsley East what it is.
One thing I know about our part of England - the vast majority of people here are hard working and want to get on in life and make sure their kids get a decent crack of the whip. They're not afraid to tell it how it is, and often do so with a dry sense of humour and wry smile and there's always the prospect of a cuppa.
There's no denying that times have been tough for people in Barnsley in the last few years, but there is still a fierce sense of pride - like no other county in England they're proudly Yorkshire but also proud of the industrial heritage of the area. One of the highlights of the election campaign was attending an event with the team behind 'Brassed Off. They movingly spoke of their experience of Grimethorpe, the people of Grimethorpe and the reality of pit closures on people here.
It's my job now to fight to bring better, well paid and secure jobs back to Barnsley, because as much as we honour the past we have to work hard to ensure the future is brighter too.
One thriving industry I have become acquainted with is the pie industry, be it Potters or Percy Turners that's something we can all celebrate!
I'm proud to be Barnsley East's MP. I'm committed to fighting for people here. If you want to let me know your priorities, I've already been out on street stalls and delivering surveys, but you can always get in touch with me on 743483 or email me at [email protected]