The death of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh has been deeply felt in the UK and across the Commonwealth. All of us are mourning a man who has served this country with dedication and commitment throughout his life. From the Second World War, where he served in the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets, to his decades of public service beside our Queen. His legacy will be long lasting not least for the hundreds of young people who’ve done the Duke of Edinburgh Award, many around the Chichester area.
This Friday, I will be attending a special service at Chichester Cathedral to honour his life and memory. My thoughts and prayers are with Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal Family.
Despite the sadness we are all feeling, this week began with a welcome return to some normality as some restrictions were lifted. I know that many of you have enjoyed coming together again for a shopping spree on our high streets, or a long-overdue catch up in our cafes, restaurants and pubs, and of course, the all-important hairdressers – where I will be heading on Friday after a surgery meeting.
Local businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic and even though the Government has been supporting them with grants, business rates relief and the furlough scheme everybody is delighted to be reopening to customers. More recently, in the Chichester constituency, we’ve received a further £173,161 from the Welcome Back Fund to help our high streets get ready, and over £1.5 million to support our cultural and heritage organisations – but their survival long-term will be down to us supporting their recovery. Chichester District Council are doing their bit, with the return of the Wednesday Farmers Market in Chichester City centre from this week. They’ve also got their Covid Ambassadors, who’ll be on hand to control queues and encourage social distancing. I also wanted to thank V2 Radio, who are running the ‘Back in Business’ campaign to encourage people to shop local and are doing a brilliant job supporting the area as it gets up and running again.
I’m really looking forward to resuming some of my usual activities in the constituency, including visiting schools and local businesses. Weather permitting this weekend should be a good opportunity for us all to support our local pubs and restaurants and reconnect with the people we’ve missed most.