Speaker’s Corner: Reflections and highlights of 2014

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Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/opinion, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
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The column that shouts about views and issues concerning Peterborough from a variety of perspectives looks back on an eventful 2014:

It is a privilege to be a parliamentary candidate for The Labour Party in Peterborough and as a result I’ve had the pleasure of being invited to various events and ceremonies where I’ve met some extraordinary people from our diverse communities who are committed to making our city the great place it is to live and work and as 2014 draws to a close, I thought it would be nice to share with you some reflections of my past year.In February, I visited the St James Hydrotherapy Pool which was under threat of closure. I spoke to users of the pool who explained what a vital resource it was for them and how it was of great benefit to their health and mobility.

Fortunately, I was able to donate some of my community leadership funding to help pay towards keeping it open.

In the same month, I attended an incredible performance of Miss Saigon by talented pupils at the Voyager Academy.

In March, I spent a night shadowing staff at the Accident and Emergency department at Peterborough City Hospital where I gained an insight and understanding of the pressures faced as a result of budget cuts and the knock-on effect of cuts to other areas, such as closures of walk-in centres or cuts to the adult social care budget and how this puts greater pressures on their ability to meet hospital waiting time targets.

On International Women’s Day, Rachel Reeves, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary came to listen to women in our city talk about the issues that mattered to them and in April I accompanied Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls on a visit to the Asda superstore where we spoke to shoppers and staff about how people are coping with the cost of living crisis.

In the summer months we saw awful images from the conflict in the Middle East and I spoke up for stability, peace, and a two state solution for Palestine at an event in Cathedral Square, attended by hundreds of our city’s concerned residents.

In August, it was an honour to mark the centenary of the First World War at a ceremony at the memorial in Bridge Street with past and present servicemen and women in remembrance of those who fought and those who died so that we could enjoy the freedoms we do today.

In the Autumn I had the privilege of attending the Navrati Festival with the City’s Hindu community for a memorable evening of dancing and celebration, closely followed by the Diwali Festival in Cathedral Square where we were treated to a wonderful display of culture, dancing and costume.

The city’s Kenyan community invited me to their 51st Independence Day celebrations where I was made to feel extremely welcome and enjoyed sampling their fine cuisine.

In December, I attended a wonderful and memorable production of Cinderella performed by some of the residents of the Paston community at their local children’s centre and finally, I visited the Salvation Army Citadel in New England to donate two turkeys for their annual Christmas Day dinner for the elderly - a lovely way to end what has been an eventful and memorable year.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading some reflections of my year and would like to end by wishing you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2015. I shall look forward to meeting many more of you on the campaign trail in the New Year.