Mark Eastwood MP: As your Member of Parliament it’s my honour and duty to pay my respects on behalf of all of us in Dewsbury and Mirfield at our local Remembrance events
Mark Eastwood MP writes: This weekend we will be commemorating Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday, both in the Constituency and throughout the country. It’s a time of year that is special to many people as they remember not only the people that the war memorials were erected for who gave their lives over 100 years ago, but often friends and family who have more recently served.
As your Member of Parliament it’s my honour and duty to pay my respects on behalf of all of us in Dewsbury and Mirfield at our local Remembrance events, and at commemorations in Westminster, such as the Garden of Remembrance. This week along with my fellow MPs I placed a cross on behalf of the Dewsbury constituency, and I’ll be placing wreaths this weekend at the parades in Dewsbury and Mirfield alongside local representatives from across the community.
But as well as my MP role, I have another Parliamentary job, as the Parliamentary Private Secretary for the Ministry of Defence. This is an unpaid role that involves supporting Ministers and being the link between them and my colleagues in Parliament, but it’s also provided me with a great deal of insight and understanding about the work of the Ministry of Defence, and how we can support the Forces community.
I’ve been incredibly proud to have been a part of ensuring that our veterans – especially those who served in Northern Ireland – have vastly improved protection from vexatious legal claims relating to their time serving. Our military has a clear code of conduct and ethics on operations which it’s right we enforce, but I’m pleased that we’ve put a stop to elderly veterans who have served with pride being subject to harassment in the courts on flimsy evidence.
My role in the Ministry of Defence means that I’m often invited to speak at Veterans’ events locally, and the attendees at the veterans event at the Old Colonial in Mirfield recently were very interested to hear about what it involves.
It’s always a pleasure to meet members of our Veterans community – which is bigger than you might think. The Royal British Legion’s campaign to include information about military service in the last census means that we now have a true picture of the Veteran Community within the constituency.
There are nearly 3000 veterans in Dewsbury and Mirfield, with a roughly even split between Veterans who are retired and those still of working age. They comprise around 6 per cent of all households in the constituency so it’s no surprise that Mirfield’s Remembrance Parade is said to be the largest outside Westminster, attracting thousands of people every year who come to pay their respects.
Although it’s a sombre time to think about those people who have sacrificed, the sense of humour that’s familiar to everyone with a link to the Forces always shines through. At Mirfield Co-Op while I was doing my bit selling poppies and raising funds many people shared their fond memories with me about their time in the Forces, or memories of parents and grandparents who had served.
And in Westminster I took part in the 7th Annual Poppy Ride alongside fellow MPs and serving soldiers, raising awareness and funds by competing for the top spot on the leaderboard for the furthest cycled in five minutes. Sadly I was pipped to the lead by slightly faster colleagues, but the event brought MPs from all parties together in aid of a very important cause.
I’m always interested to hear your views or concerns about veterans issues or any other issue you may have. Please contact me and my team on [email protected] or telephone on
01924 939 007 if I can assist you.