Happy New Year! I hope you had a restful and relaxing Christmas break. I did and am feeling much better for it!
Over Christmas I was reflecting on the many good things that happened in the last year – too often we dwell on the bad. So before I jump into the madness that is about to unfold in Westminster I wanted to tell you about one of my highlights from last year that I didn’t get round to reporting at the time.
One of the first people who came to see me in surgery after I was elected in 2015 was a mum who’s daughter has extremely acute dyslexia and simply wasn’t thriving in mainstream education. Her daughter’s name is Bea. When she told me all about Bea’s struggles in school it immediately struck a nerve with me because of my own battles with dyslexia, loathing school as a result, and leaving without any usable qualifications. Bea’s mum is amazing and she was fighting so hard to get Bea to a specialist school but funding had been denied.
I joined that fight along with my team here in Hove and together we went into battle and came out victorious! Bea got her dream place in Frewen College. The college has been going for a hundred years, long before there was acceptance of dyslexia and is based in a former manor house who’s wealthy owner suffered with dyslexia and left his property to the college. All of us in the office were over-the-moon for Bea and her mum.
One of the great things about our work here is staying in touch with the people we offer a helping hand to. Bea is a great example, we all fell in love with her and there was no way we were going to let her disappear off into the Sussex countryside and loose contact! So last year Bea came to the office to complete her work experience and it was amazing to have her around.
And then I got an invitation to go to Frewen College over the summer to address students and hand out certificates and prizes at their awards day. I bit their hand off!
The college was a wonder! It caters for students with Specific Learning Difficulties, including dyslexia, and the second I arrived you could just sense how supportive the environment was. The students were unbelievably close and supportive of each other. And the fact is was in a manor house out in the countryside made it feel very ‘X-Men’!! For me it was really quite emotional to see students with much greater challenges than I had thriving and so visibly loving education.
I got to stand in front of students and talk to them about my own pathway through life and work and share some of my own learning from along the way, and then hand out awards for achievement. Well you can just imagine my reaction when one of the star awards was unveiled and Bea was the winner! I think I was as excited and proud as Bea’s mum was!!
Being your MP means I get to fight for people individually as well as our whole community up in Westminster. Bea is thriving because of the huge amount of hard work she’s putting in coupled with an amazing attitude to life. Her mum was relentlessly fighting to get her the opportunities she needed. And all of us in the office are proud to bits to have done our bit too. It’s not every day I get to see success reflected in the beaming face of a young person who’s talents are being explored and unlocked, so I certainly made the most of my day at the college!
Despite it being a scorching hot summer’s day, I was presented with a Frewen College scarf as a gift. Now winter is here I wear it with pride and love the idea that a school that specialises in unlocking the unique abilities of kids with special educational needs gets their colours worn around the corridors of power!
Tomorrow I return to Westminster after the Christmas recess. Our community and country faces some unprecedented challenges and I know you expect me to provide the strongest voice humanly possible. I promise you that I’m going to work harder than every before and do everything I possibly can to do just that. Hove, Portslade, and Hangleton deserves nothing less. Lets make 2019 the year common sense fights back! Yours, Peter