I think the vast majority of us will have felt great sadness when we heard about the death of HRH The Prince Philp, Duke of Edinburgh a few days ago.
The volume of tributes that we saw from right across the world for the Duke of Edinburgh was truly heart warming and my thoughts remain with the Royal Family at this sad and difficult time.
Swindon Borough Council have opened an online book of condolence for people to share their thoughts. For more information on this, please visit: Book of condolence on behalf of Swindon Borough Council | Swindon Borough Council.
Reflecting on his years of service, his setting up of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) to help young people develop the skills and resilience to succeed in life, is at the forefront of my mind.
The Duke was passionate about the DofE and he devoted much of his life to developing and encouraging young people from all backgrounds and abilities. Since its conception, over 6.7 million young people have done their DofE award and through this nearly 300,000 young people completed nearly 3.5 million volunteering hours in 2019/20 alone.
It has been wonderful to see so many young people from here in Swindon take part in and complete their DofE award – I would strongly encourage more people to take part in this great scheme that will be an enduring legacy.
On Monday we saw the country take the next step of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown, as non-essential shops, gyms, and hairdressers re-opened, whilst pubs and restaurants were able to welcome back customers who are seated outside.
At this stage of the cautious roadmap, there were no changes to the social distancing rules and outdoor gatherings must still be limited to six people or two households, and you are not allowed to socialise indoors with anyone you do not live with or have not formed a support bubble with.
Every Swindon resident can now access Covid-19 tests, even if you do not have any symptoms. This can be done via: Regular rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests if you do not have symptoms - NHS (www.nhs.uk).
In further local news, it was great to see that here in South Swindon, we have been awarded an additional £133,688 as part of the Culture Recovery Fund. This means that in the last year just over £460,000 has been granted by the Government to cultural and arts organisations right here in our town.
This investment joins over a billion pounds which has been given to arts and culture organisations who are really struggling because of the pandemic but whose continued existence we need in order to enrich the cultural and arts life of our country.
This latest news comes on top of so many other grants and measures to support Swindon, and I will continue to ensure that we continue to receive our fair share of investment from our Government.