Honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom

Torbay Weekly

There are certain times in our life when history becomes alive, when events and moments long gone become more vivid in the imagination.

Last Thursday was particularly poignant for me as I laid a wreath on the Poppies to Paddington memorial train to mark Remembrance Day.

Standing on the platform at Paignton train station really brought home echoes of the past –the excitement, comradery and fear felt by many soldiers who made the long journey to war all those years ago from Torbay.

Many Paigntonians would have received their call up papers and a rail warrant, and for some of them their last view of their hometown would be through a railway carriage window.

Many didn’t return or came home with horrific injuries.

This event organised by the Royal British Legion and Great Western Railway started last year after memorial services had to be significantly curtailed due to the pandemic.

I welcomed the opportunity to show my respects to our Armed Forces. It was a chance to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom in both world wars and those who continue to do so.

Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday have a personal meaning for me as it’s a time I remember my great aunt Muriel who was a serving Wren in the Second World War.

She sadly lost her fight against coronavirus on the Battle of Britain Day two Septembers ago.

Covid-19 has affected so many people and has had an impact on many parts of our lives, so I’m delighted that Torbay Council has this month launched ‘Work Out to Help Out’.

This gives free passes to local communities for several leisure facilities across the Bay.

Organised in collaboration with Sport Torbay, the initiative has been developed to help get residents ‘back on their feet’ and keep up with the healthy, active habits that many started when exercising was one of the only permitted reasons to leave home back at the start of the global pandemic.

Each month a local street will be chosen at random. Residents living in that street will then be offered access to free gym memberships, fitness classes, swimming sessions, Velopark rides and many other opportunities at local sports facilities.

The overall aim of the scheme is to encourage Torbay residents to become more active and perhaps try out a new fitness activity.

We’re absolutely committed to supporting our local communities with getting fit, staying fit and ultimately improving their overall health and wellbeing.

'Work Out to Help Out' will give lots of local people the opportunity to try a new sporting activity for free for an entire month – and, hopefully, they will keep up their new healthy habit.

Wild swimming is just one of the activities that many of us have embraced since lockdowns began.

Around 20 years ago the Clean Sweep Programme significantly improved the quality of our seas however, the Government still permitted the disposal of sewage into rivers and the sea at times of high rainfall.

Sadly, the Government recently decided to relax regulations around the release of sewage into our rivers and seas.

I believe this is a backwards step by the Government and it will have a detrimental effect on wild swimming.

In October in the House of Lords, the Duke of Wellington, a cross bencher, proposed that Government should legislate that water companies should progressively reduce the discharging of sewage into our seas and rivers but sadly on November 8, Government whipped its backbenchers to permit the continued dumping of sewage.

Two hundred and eighty-three MPs voted for Government's amendment and 163 against.

We have high aspirations for Torbay being the premier resort in the UK and in our post pandemic world, people need to know that they can sample our great outdoors safely.

It is infuriating that the Government are actively failing to support safe seas for us to enjoy.