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Sunday, 26 April 2009

For England...

The church service celebrating St. George's day was well guarded on Sunday. I'd arrived a bit late and had intended to sneak in un-noticed at the back. But the Knights in Shining Armour were having none of it.

The service was superb. I don't think I could ever get sick of singing 'Jerusalem', although sadly it seldom gets sung in your normal church service. But today, we had license to belt it out patriotically to the rafters.

Then the Knights led us off to a St. George's Day lunch. The whole thing was organised by the Bristol Branch of the Royal Society of St. George.

Organisations like The Royal Society of St. George are incredibly important. Not only to keep the identity, heritage and spirit of our nation thriving, but to articulate the patriotism that many feel about our great nation in the open-minded, tolerant manner befitting of England and St. George.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Informal surgery at Henbury is a recipe for success

Today Chris Windows, the council candidate for Henbury, and I held an informal surgery at Emmanuel Chapel, Henbury.

The aim was to meet local people and listen to their concerns and have a general chat about the area, without the formality or pressure of a 'surgery'.

It worked very well. Thanks, no doubt, in part to Rose's exceptional cakes. (Rose is the one wielding the large knife. She may make a mean cake, but don't mess!) I'd like to think people came to meet me and Chris Windows. But with refreshments like that, it's hard to be sure...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Bangers and Lawrence Weston Community Farm

I'm tucking into these little beauties tonight. Honey and mustard sausages from Lawrence Weston Community Farm. It's good to know that the livestock for these sausages have had good, healthy lives with freedom to roam locally. The Farm run a meat club - produce from the farm. It's limited, so early ordering advised!

And this is what they turned into... The reason the mash is a bit green is not because I am a really appalling cook, but because there are leeks and onions and a bit of old left over cheddar in there. Proper job.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Football is more than just a game

I went up to London for the day yesterday to visit The Football Foundation and The Premier League, to see if they can offer any help to Shirehampton Football Club. Here's me, slightly overwhelmed, with the English Premiership Cup.

Apart from the high-light of seeing the cup, we had an interesting meeting. As expected, there's a lot more work to do to see how they can best help. But while I was there, Alistair Bennett from the Football Foundation ( left) and Dan Johnson from the Premier League ( right) told me about some of the social inclusion work that they do through football.

It's all really simple. If young people are doing something they can engage with and become good at, it changes every aspect of their lives. They told me about one of their boys who was a young offender. He got into football, now earns money coaching his local club and goes back to his old estate as a powerful role model for boys and girls growing up as he did.

I sometimes worry that as the credit crunch bites, schemes like this that use sport ( or music, or drama or anything like that ) will get sidelined. That would be a very false economy. It costs thousands to keep a young offender locked up, and in their lifetime they will cost society hundreds of thousands through lost potential earnings and episodes with the criminal justice system. Social inclusion through sport is not a fun optional-extra. It really works. And as we tighten our purse strings for the future, it makes more sense than ever before.