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Sunday, 27 June 2010

Grand opening of the National Smelters Boxing Gym

This blog has followed the progress of the Avonmouth National Smelters Boxing Club new-gym build. From lowly beginnings ( some girders in the mud) to a superb new facility...

It has all been down to the dedication and work of coach Garry Cave and his team of helpers and volunteers. Today, I was honoured to help open the Gym .

After the club held its AGM and prize giving, I opened the gym with Garry, (left, black T-shirt) and regional boxing developer, Roger Eady (right)

I have blogged incessantly, including an article in the Telegraph, about why boxing is so important for young people. I remember getting cross when one lady told me 'it taught young people to hit' - I'm afraid young people are already perfectly capable of hitting without going to a boxing club. But what boxing does do is channel natural aggression and energy into a disciplined and highly technical sport, and helps young men feel confident enough to walk AWAY from a fight.

But it is also the kind of family that builds up around a club like the National Smelters Club. At the prize giving, every boxer was valued, and I am always so impressed by one particular prize that's handed out: The Boxer's Boxer - the recipient is decided upon by the boxers themselves: They all go into a huddle and within 30 seconds, they have all mutually decided a winner. Try getting politicians to do something similar!

Garry just needs a bit more fundraising done before the gym is completely paid for. I intend to carry on helping and supporting the club, as well as boxing across the city; and now the madness of the General Election campaign is over, there's no excuse for me not to get the gloves back on and get back into the gym!

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Sea Cadets today, tomorrow... the world!

Appropriate, I suppose, that on armed forces day I spent a lot of the time talking to the new chairman of Filton Sea Cadets.
The cadets have done incredibly well, but working from very ramshackle premises at the Horfield TA centre. We discussed fund raising, the possibility of raising enough funds to completely rebuild the existing site - and the enormous potential for reaching out into local schools. As ever, I left thinking... a lot to be done.

Shirehampton Primary goes Turkish

I could have made all sorts of puns about Turkish delights in the title - and quite appropriately too.

Shirehampton Primary School put on a truly exotic Turkish Evening last night; it was a great success with brilliant performances from pupils and adults, which almost made me consider taking up belly-dancing ( The glamorous outfits could have had a lot to do with it too...)

During the interval we were served with Turkish delicacies - particularly memorable was the pistachio cake made by local mum Ruth, who is with me here. Although by the time we got round to taking a photo, the pistachio cake was long gone...

Well done all, a really great community event, superbly organised and the perfect way to spend a hot mid-summers evening!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Education Select Committee!

I've just found out I've been elected onto the Education Select Committee! For the first time, Select Committee places have not been determined by the Whips, but by an election amongst the other MPs in the party. I put myself forward for education because of my interest in it, both generally as the area which really dictates life chances, but also because there is so much happening in education here in Bristol; I thought it would be brilliant to be at the heart of things as policy is developed.

I didn't expect to get elected onto the Education Select Committee, but am delighted that I have. What is interesting, is that there is a huge number of new intake MPs elected onto Select Committees- and some really talented new people involved, -There's too many to list here, (and I'd probably mess up by missing someone off!) - but they include people with really valuable experience -including two GPs, which is great.

The great thing about Select Committees is that it is where MPs put aside their party political differences and all come together to work constructively on something. That's my kind of politics. I've always said, if I was into tribalism, I'd have got more into football, not politics!

And on that note, of football and work, I thought I'd share my latest office set-up with you. You can just see the England flag which was waving with gusto yesterday, behind me, and my desk is still relatively clear of stuff. There is suddenly a huge amount of work to do - so I wonder how long that will last...

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Horfield Common Forever!

When I got elected as an MP, loads of people told me to take Sundays off and not do anything. And I tried, I really, really tried. But after my usual lunch in Cookies in Lockleaze, I stumbled upon The Horfield Common Picnic. The sun was shining, there was a live band...and a cake stall. How could I say no?!

And after the cake stall, I stumbled upon Sam Thompson, with her Friends of Horfield Common Stall, and we got talking about the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy. (Watch this space for more on that...)

They are raising concerns about plans to dispose of part of the common and are seeking comments and views from local people as to whether the land is used and valuable to the community or not.

The picnic today demonstrated just how valuable green space is for the community; and so much more could be done with it, especially since the community is so engaged and willing to make things happen.

For more information on the campaign, go to

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Caleb's campaign

Sometimes you come across a person, or an event, that makes you stop and reassess things completely. Shielmor Twomey, the lady pictured next to me here, is one of those people.
When she came to see me, she explained that her son, Caleb, had committed suicide just months earlier, in January of this year. He was a lovely, bright, popular young man, who was pursuing a career in modeling - as you can see from the photo of him on the bench. But he had started taking ketamin, and he reacted so badly to it that in January, he took his own life.

His mum has bravely soldiered on, and is now starting a campaign, which I am helping her with, to raise awareness about the dangers of ketamin. This afternoon, on College Green, we unveiled a bench dedicated to Caleb, and let fly 28 balloons - one for each year of his life - with his family and friends. I've tabled an EDM ( Early Day Motion) and Caleb's mum is launching her campaign to try to prevent anyone else from going through anything like this.

Elmlea's Fair Field...

This year, the annual Elmlea School Fair had an added significance. If the Council go ahead with possible plans, it could be the last ever Elmlea Fair to be held on the existing playing field.

The Infant school is in real need of rebuilding and improvement and the Council are looking at rebuilding it on the existing playing field, and using the infant school site as the new playing field.

Anyone who knows the site will know that there will, in effect, be a significant loss of playing field land ( I'm sure some clever people are able to re-categorise things to show that there is no loss of land whatsoever, but back here in Real World, it is fairly obvious that there would be a very significant loss of playing field site.)

Let's just hope the Council see sense, think long term, and preserve this wonderful playing field for the future of the children currently at infant school, and for generations of children, and Elmlea Fairs, to come.

Friday, 18 June 2010


This is the view from the main window of the "No" Lobby, which is next to the Chamber in the House of Commons.

Now, whose office could that be, then?!

But at this rate, the flag won't be flying much longer. Come on England.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Sea Mills Am Dram in action!

Around two years ago now, I took part in a day of revamping Sea Mills Community Centre. We painted it and began to clear out the area behind the stage.

But it soon emerged that clearing out the place was far more than a day's task, so we were more than happy to abandon ourselves to simply painting.

But since then, wonders have taken place at Sea Mills. They now have their own Sea Mills Amateur Dramatics group ( SMAD) run by Nick White and Tosh ( Nick is just behind me, Tosh is in pink in the middle.) They are writing plays, putting on pantos, and have around 20 members.

And not only that, they have completely cleared and revamped the Hall. The stage is now usable, and ready for productions!

If you want to find out more about SMAD, get in touch with Tosh:

Saturday, 12 June 2010

C'mon England.

It's not often you can watch the World Cup, (responsibly) enjoy a pint of beer with your friends and watch a sunset at the same time. But at the Mouse's pub beer garden you can do just that.

This is the happy scene just before the USA equalised last night.
There are very many more people who can provide more informed commentary on the match than I can, so I won't even go there; but suffice to say, if you have to watch England do it yet again, the Mouse garden with its outside TV is a very nice place to do it.

One of the great things about the World Cup is that it provides such a boost for our nation's pubs. So I'll use this opportunity to remind you to go to to support the campaign to save our nation's pubs. The World Cup just wouldn't be the same without them!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Getting settled into parliament...

Hooray! I finally have an office! ... but no computer yet...

This is it. Apparently I'm very lucky to have a window. The view is of some wall, then some scaffolding, but if you lean out perilously far, you can just see Big Ben. That's a friend sitting there, to give you an idea of scale... and just look at that lovely carpet.

Along with all the new MPs, I've been eagerly awaiting the allocation of my office. Apparently it's a marathon task, allocating offices to MPs. Think about it: First it had to be agreed which party occupied which part of the building, then all sorts of hierarchies etc would have to have been agreed , determining who got which office - then now-ex-Ministers have to be coaxed out of their old offices into their new, possibly much smaller, office. No wonder it's taken a while...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Victory for Bristol North West!

There's a good reason why the last post on this blog is some time ago - the whirlwind of the General Election descended and blogging went out of the window.

BUT! It's back! And now I'm blogging as your MP. All the official stuff will be on my official website - - which is still undergoing changes and upgrades, but this is just an informal look at what I'm doing.

At the moment, I still don't have an office in parliament, we are working on a constituency office, and there's still a lot of logistics to be put into place - but it is great to be able to fight for my home with the resources that Westminster can offer to get things done for our area.

Oh, and the picture, if you hadn't already guessed, is me with my very proud and long-suffering mum and dad, on the morning of the count. It was getting on for 28 hours without sleep, so for that, I think we're all doing ok!