From the age of 17 when I joined the RAF, the subjects of community, equality and fairness have been a part of my life. Leaving the once prosperous cotton mill town of Lancaster where jobs were few and the future uncertain for a contract with the RAF for 9 years guaranteed service and possibly more, my first posting to RAF Halton on the outskirts of London gave a drastic contrast to lifestyle and opportunities in the south compared to the north. 30 years later and I still believe that here in County Durham, the divide between North and South is even greater.
My first volunteering and fundraising was for military charities, becoming an area charity co-ordinator, and more recently the organiser of the National 70th Anniversary Skydive for the Royal Air Force Association which took place at Shotton Airfield. A few years earlier as a keen biker together with my partner Alice Smith, then members of the Royal British Legion Riders Branch (RBLR) and with thanks to ‘Big’ Steve the RBLR repatriation officer, we are proud wearers of the British Legion Riders Branch, Wootton Basset Repatriation Honour Guard badge. Returning to a former RAF Station at which I served, we took part in one of the biggest motorcycling charity event ever held with over 20,000 bikers where together with charity trustees helped produce the charity video. We have travelled the country length and breadth supporting and helping military charities include the national press launch of the very first Erskine Veterans Hospital Charity Rideout with good friends from Royal British Legion Riders Scotland.
Locally, I play an active role in the community volunteering to assist Geoff Darkes and the Spennymoor Neighbourhood Policing Team as deputy chair of the Spennymoor Town Police and Communities Together, writing articles for the Spennymoor News and helping produce local police community video. I also volunteer alongside an amazing team from the Durham Christian Partnership who together with St Pauls Community Centre and Trinity Methodist Church, coordinate the Spennymoor FoodBank.
On leaving the RAF after spending my last years at Brize Norton working on a specialized parachute maintenance team which included work with the RAF Falcons Display Team, I retrained and spent over 10 years working on Nuclear, Gas, Oil and coal fired power stations and within the petro chemical environment whilst undertaking other projects including work on the 2010 Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games project in Glasgow. Having left the world of electrical engineering behind, I now work as part of a facilities support team at Durham University whilst undertaking a degree in Social Policy and Politics with a future aim to play a greater role within the charity sector to assist in overcoming social barriers and reducing inequalities.
In standing as a candidate for the County Council in the Tudhoe ward, my hope is that together with Neil Grayson, we can work together to bring investment into the town, address the problems and issues with planning, concentrate on education and the need for a new school in the town whist protecting our heritage and community values.
Over the coming years, changes in the NHS nationally will have an impact locally. We need to ensure that we are well represented and make our case for better health provision in the town. Changes to government planning policy means that without a County Durham Plan, we could be inundated with more homes and helpless to stop it. We need to work towards a plan that works for our town. Government policy over education means there will be no more new state schools but need provision for more school places in Spennymoor. Within these constraints we still need classroom places and I believe a new school is the best option. Bolt on classrooms are not enough and is affecting the quality of education. Social care provision is dictated by Durham County Council. We have to ask ourselves why DCC Labour have bailed out cricket clubs, ploughed millions into reserves, built and refurbished numerous roundabouts yet cut back on social care provision. This in my opinion needs to change.
I believe in fairness and equality. I support the Teaching Assistants 100% and I also stand shoulder to shoulder with all who have served, their friends and their families especially those of the DLI who have been ignored and disrespected by Durham County Council Labour. As the RAF moto says – Per Ardu Ad Astra (Through adversity to the stars), I will continue to campaign, represent and speak out for those in society that need it.
Your VOTE for myself and Neil Grayson to Durham County Council will mean a focus on priorities that matter to us all. We will seek assistance from every resident and the town council to help make our communities better and give our town the future we all would wish for.