It has been wonderful to see how the community has come together to honour Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during this period of national grief. I want to express my sincere gratitude to all those who have supported the proceeding here in West Sussex and in the capital. There was a huge amount of work that has gone into making these past few days seem effortless, culminating in Her Late Majesty’s funeral, which was a spectacle none of us who watched it will ever forget.
A few weeks back, I shared the details of an online panel event, I am hosting tonight (Thursday 22 September) from 5.30pm to 7pm. The panel will look into how we can end sewage discharges into our rivers and along our coastlines. I can confirm that Southern Water will be there, alongside their regulators; the Environment Agency and Ofwat. So, this will be a great opportunity to hear directly from those responsible and put your questions to them.
Also attending will be representatives from Natural England, the RSPB, and Chichester Harbour Conservancy Director Richard Craven, who is leading Chapron; a ground-breaking multi-agency approach to environmental improvement in Chichester Harbour.
If you would like to attend please register on my website – www.gilliankeegan.com – there is a link on my home page. Equally, if you are unable to attend the event live, my team will, in due course, place a copy of the proceedings online.
In other news, you may have seen that I have been appointed to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office - I feel very honoured to be asked to represent our country’s interests abroad and am looking forward to getting stuck in. It is, of course, sad to leave behind the team at the Department for Health and Social Care, however, it has been brilliant to get the vital reforms to social care and mental health services underway. A personal highlight of that role will always be supporting the Down’s Syndrome Act through Parliament. As an aunt to a boy with Down’s syndrome, it was very special to support legislation that would have such a transformational impact on my own family’s experience as well as so many others across the country.