Remembrance Sunday is a chance for us all to reflect on the incredible bravery of those who have voluntarily stepped up to defend all that we hold dear.
I am sure many local residents will pay their respects by attending Remembrance Parades and Services across South Shropshire from this Friday to Sunday. I shall be attending the Parade in Ludlow on Sunday, from 10.15am to St Laurence's for the service at 10.45am, and then to the Memorial in Castle Square.
For me, Armistice Day is not only a chance to reflect on the past, but also to review the way in which we provide help and assistance to current Armed Forces personnel and veterans. My time as a Defence Minister absolutely reinforced my view that we have a duty to ensure that serving personnel, veterans, and their families are respected, treated fairly, and not disadvantaged as a result of their service.
Last month we saw progress in the Armed Forces (Flexible Working) Bill, which I hope will become law soon. One of the main reasons why people choose to leave the Armed Forces is the impact of their service on family life. So this Bill allows service personnel to provide their service in a more flexible way to suit their lifestyles better, and is being backed by all three service branches.
The launch of the Veteran's Gateway earlier this year is another example of how we can better support those who have served. This £2million investment draws together a vast range of charities to provide veterans with advice and support as they move into civilian life, including on housing, employment, and mental and physical health. More information can be found at www.veteransgateway.org.uk.
It is also encouraging to see work being done to protect the mental health of Armed Forces personnel. Last month the Ministry of Defence announced a partnership with the Royal Foundation, regarding mental health, who will provide advice and resources to help the MoD improve training, education and information sharing about mental health throughout the Armed Forces.
I also commend Shropshire Council for the work they have done to support our Armed Forces community through the Armed Forces covenant, recently receiving a Gold Award at the Employer Recognition Awards - one of only 6 Councils in the country to do so.
As ever, I encourage local residents and employers to support the Royal British Legions Poppy Appeal this year - it is the least we all can do to remember brave sacrifice of the fallen.