IT WAS great to see so many people gathered at Leigh Cenotaph to commemorate the fallen on Armistice Day without the restrictions that were in place last year.

Many were gathered to pay their respects, from ex-servicemen to young children, and I was pleased to see a new generation joining in and learning of the sacrifices made by our brave service personnel who laid down their lives to keep us safe and to protect our way of life, not just in the world wars, but through to those who continue to make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty to this very day.

Keeping and honouring their memory and showing our gratitude and respect for their work is a duty that we must ensure is never dulled or diminished by the passage of time and it was also fantastic to see so many young people in attendance, including organised school visits to Leigh Cenotaph.

Some of the core reasons that people, even today, are proud to serve in our armed forces is due to their key role in protecting us at home, our way of life, and our democracy and it was just earlier this month that we also celebrated UK Parliament Week, when we were encouraging schools and youth groups to engage with Parliament and its role in our democratic life.

As part of the UK Parliament Week 2021 celebrations, I had the chance to visit schools and youth organisations across the Leigh constituency.

During my visits, I met with school pupils, scouts, brownies and guides and, just like last during year’s Parliament week, I was impressed by their enthusiasm to learn about politics, not to mention the scope and range of interesting and knowledgeable questions that they posed.

Some of their questions included ones about the role of democracy and the role of Parliament, as well as some ‘big idea’ questions about the environment, finance and social responsibility.

There were also more personal questions about my route into politics and what motivated me to take the path I did - and one pupil even asked me how many televisions I had in my house (which, for the record, is only two).

They were enjoyable and thought-provoking discussions led by teachers and staff - but with questions coming directly from the minds and mouths of the children - and I was impressed by both the good behaviour and politeness of the children during the discussion (unlike in the Commons at times!)

I was able to visit Leigh CE Primary School, Lowton St Mary’s CE Primary School, the 26th Leigh Brownies and Guides, Lilford District Scouts and Astley Scouts and Guides.

I was also pleased to be able to assist in presenting the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award to one of the scouts at the Lilford District Scout Centre.

I wish to take this opportunity to say thank you to all the staff and children involved at my visits throughout the past week and for giving me such a pleasant welcome.