Politically Speaking with Kim Leadbeater MP: Amazing people keep our community united

This job is certainly never dull and the wide variety of different things I am asked to do and get involved with amazes me.

By Jane Chippindale
Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 2:00 pm
HONOUR: MP Kim Leadbeater with her MBE. Photo: Getty Images
HONOUR: MP Kim Leadbeater with her MBE. Photo: Getty Images

Kim Leadbeater MP writes: This week has been particularly varied and has produced a real mix of emotions for me.

I’m getting used to my world shifting between the community I love here in Batley and Spen and the slightly unreal environment at Westminster. And this week I stepped into another world

altogether when I went to Windsor Castle to receive my MBE from HRH Princess Anne.

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The honour had nothing to do with my current job as an MP; it was awarded for my work at The Jo Cox Foundation and my volunteering with More Common Batley and Spen, working on

loneliness and social isolation and building strong communities. I have mixed feelings about receiving awards and find it a bit uncomfortable if I’m honest, but as I accepted this honour I

was thinking about all the amazing people who work so hard to keep our community together and help tackle loneliness, especially in such tough recent times. I was of course also thinking

about my sister Jo who championed these important issues during her too short time in Parliament.

I met some inspirational people at the ceremony which also led me to think about the many inspirational people we are lucky to have in Batley and Spen.

I recently met with Shirley Hepworth from Roberttown. Shirley is the mother of five year old Beau, a beautiful girl who’s been through so much since being diagnosed in December 2020 with a rare form of childhood cancer called Stage 4 High Risk Neuroblastoma. She was given a 50/50 chance of survival but after some strong chemotherapy and a lot of excellent care from the NHS she’s doing well. She now needs a vaccine treatment that is only available on a trial in New York, to try to prevent the cancer coming back. Shirley is now trying to raise the £317,000 it will cost.

Sixty schools across Kirklees took part in ‘Rain-Beau Day’ last week when they were allowed to wear their own clothes and were encouraged to dress in rainbow colours. Then on Saturday my team and I took part in a 60km Run for Beau on the treadmill at Asda in Dewsbury. It was exhausting but we all loved it and the combined fundraising efforts brought the total collected so far to almost £200,000. There’s still a long way to go and we need to reach the total by April.

Beau’s story can be seen on a video at http://www.getbeautosloan.com where donations can also be made.

Caring for Beau has been exhausting for Shirley too, of course, but she is so full of positivity and love. She thanks everybody personally and is so grateful to everybody in the health

service and elsewhere who have done so much for Beau. As she says, the campaign is not just about her own little girl, but is for all the future children who could benefit from the trial.

My 40 minutes on the treadmill was part of a busy weekend surrounded by inspirational people. I was happy to be out again with the Keep Hecky Tidy group on Sunday cleaning up a

war memorial in Heckmondwike – although not so happy to see how much rubbish people still throw on the ground and in the hedgerows. I would have stayed longer but the Batley Bulldogs’ first game of the season was calling.

It was a brilliant game with a fantastic atmosphere with the boys coming from behind to beat the Halifax Panthers 30-18; an amazing performance.

I wish I could say the same for the atmosphere in Parliament on Monday when the Prime Minister made a statement after the interim findings of the Sue Gray report were published.

This column is not the place to make party political points, but all I would say is to repeat that when people are under pressure and the going gets tough they show their true characters. And when I set Boris Johnson alongside the brave, selfless, compassionate people I meet back home in Batley and Spen there is no comparison.

Fortunately being at Westminster also gives me the opportunity to speak out on issues that are important to constituents and to myself. I recently took part in a debate on women in football

because I believe passionately that sport and exercise can be really positive for everybody’s health and well-being. And I raised the worrying delays that children with ADHD are facing in

receiving diagnoses and support and treatment. The Minister has agreed to meet me to discuss this further so I hope to have progress to report soon.

So there’s lots of work to do and I will continue to do my very best, both locally and nationally. If you haven’t yet signed my petition to get more resources to tackle dangerous driving in Batley and Spen then please do – you can find the link here: http://www.kim4batleyandspen.com You can also download my new leaflet with useful information about where you can go to get help with local issues and to report speeding and other crimes and anti-social behaviour.

Thanks for reading and take care of yourselves.

Kim