Pausing briefly from the pomp and ceremony of the annual State Opening of Parliament, Dr Dan and his Parliamentary colleagues from across Suffolk came together to celebrate the first ever Suffolk Day on Wednesday 21st June.
Championed by BBC Radio Suffolk and the East Anglian Daily Times, Suffolk Day recognises and celebrates all that is great about Suffolk.
On one of the busiest days in the Parliamentary calendar, Dr Dan was delighted that Suffolk's MPs all came together to celebrate all that is great about Suffolk. But he was especially pleased that they were all carrying the official Suffolk flag – designed by Framlingham community stalwart and business owner, Bill Bulstrode.
It's no wonder that so many visitors choose to make Suffolk their destination of choice each year. With the most easterly point in Britain, Ness Point in Lowestoft, offering early risers the first glimpse of the sunrise, Suffolk also promises the most amount of sunshine and driest climate in the whole of the UK, which only allows for more hours in the day to explore this great county of ours.
With it's glorious coastline and unspoilt beaches, to its infamous wide open skies and from its picturebox, historic villages to its bustling medieval market towns, Suffolk truly has something to offer for everyone.
The ancient wool towns of Long Melford and Lavenham offer a quintessentially English day out, with heritage and history abound, a host of antique shops and traditional afternoon tea to welcome weary shoppers. Bury St Edmunds, aside from being the seat of Suffolk's patron saint, is home to Suffolk's only cathedral and stunning cathedral gardens.
For centuries Suffolk's natural landscape has inspired writers, musicians and artists – Constable, Munnings and Britten to name but a few, but of course more recently our very own Ed Sheeran was inspired to write about Framlingham's Castle on the Hill. Each year, arts, music and culture all come to life with the world famous Aldeburgh Festival, bringing visitors from far and wide.
Over in the west of our county Newmarket is no stranger to royalty, playing home to the sport of kings, horseracing, for centuries and now boasting a state of the art heritage centre, opened by HM The Queen only last year.
And then there's the fabulous maritime heritage to be experienced in our coastal resorts of Aldeburgh and Southwold, but also in our county town of Ipswich, with its annual maritime festival taking place on the stunning waterfront. Nearby the Victorian town of Felixstowe welcomes those in search of traditional English seaside fun, but the other side of Felixstowe is home to the largest container port in the country.
Boasting a long history in farming and food production, Suffolk can also lay claim to some of the finest food and drink in the country – with fine and casual dining, dog-friendly pubs to welcome weary walkers, cafes and farmshops, fish and chip shops and fisherman's huts on the beach in abundance. And after a busy day's exploring, a welcome tipple from one of Suffolk's award winning brewers or vineyards is sure to satisfy.
With such a vibrant, growing economy, and outstanding transport links, it's no wonder that so many major businesses and small rural start ups are choosing to make Suffolk their home.
On Saturday 17 June, Dr Dan was pleased to visit Brandeston Village Fete, kindly hosted by the Brandeston Queen and supported also by Kenton Hall.
The Fete commenced at 1pm, with the local community and visitors coming together to enjoy the traditional summer fete. The event is Brandeston's biggest fundraising event, with all proceeds going to support the Village Hall and All Saints Church.
Following the Fete, the team soon turned around the gardens ahead of the Village Feast, which saw the community gathering togethering to enjoy a communal two course dinner.
Dr Dan was pleased to support the nationwide Care Home Open Day initiative on Friday 16th June, with a visit to Framlingham's Mills Meadow Care Home.
Dr Dan enjoyed a tour of the impressive facilities at Mills Meadow before taking time to meet and speak to a number of residents over some celebratory tea and cake to mark 2017 Care Home Open Day, a UK wide initiative which sees care homes around the country open their doors to their local communities. The initiative looks to build and strengthen links between care home residents and the local community, showcasing the very best of care homes and how they can be involved in local areas.
As a regular visitor to Mills Meadow in Framlingham, Dr Dan very much enjoyed meeting and talking to so many residents and listening to how much they enjoy the fantastic range of opportunities and events that the team at Mills Meadow regularly put on.
It is important to develop and maintain strong links between care homes and the local community, and here in Suffolk we are very lucky to have such a strong and thriving sense of community spirit. Initiatives such as Care Home Open Day help to develop friendship networks and close ties with the local community and sustaining a sense of belonging in the community has been shown to be beneficial to a person's overall health and wellbeing.
Dr Dan very much enjoyed a visit to Framlingham's Sir Robert Hitcham Primary School to attend the school's Summer Fete on Friday 16th June.
Ahead of the fete, Dr Dan enjoyed meeting with Headteacher, Mrs Helen Picton and staff, before going on to a lively Question and Answer session with the pupils. In the run up to the General Election, the pupils had run their own "mock" election, creating their own political parties and even writing their own manifestos, so the budding young politicians were all too keen to promote their own policies and ask questions of Dr Dan.
Dr Dan very much enjoyed the Q&A session with the pupils and was thoroughly impressed with the time they had taken to research and think in advance about their ideas, given the wide range of questions which they put to Dr Dan on the day. It's always encouraging to see younger students so engaged with politics. Visits such as these definitely help to strengthen the link between what Dr Dan does as an MP locally and how he can make sure that the voice of our communities here in Suffolk are heard in Parliament.
Immediately after the Q&A session, Dr Dan then accompanied Mrs Picton to the Summer Fete, welcoming bumper numbers of children, parents and the local community to the event. Dr Dan was especially pleased to visit the school's Summer Fete, particularly as this is the first one for several years. The Fete was very well attended and was incredibly popular with pupils and visitors alike - the success of events like these is testament to the hard work of all of those working tirelessly behind the scenes to pull everything together and this community spirit is something which we can be incredibly proud of here in Suffolk.
On Saturday 10th June, Dr Dan was delighted to join the Chairman of Kesgrave Town Council, Neal Beecroft-Smith, and the community for a day of activities and celebration.
The Fun Day brought together community groups from across the town, with action packed displays, activities and games all showcasing the very best that Kesgrave has to offer. Kesgrave is a thriving community and events such as these are a fantastic opportunity for the community to come together and really celebrate everything that they enjoy about living and working in Kesgrave.
Youngsters had the opportunity to have a go at a number of sports and activities, with many hopefully going on to become club members.
With a full day of sports, displays, music and food, the day was a huge success and Dr Dan was especially pleased to have been asked to officially open the event.
On Saturday, Dr Dan enjoyed visiting a number of local fetes around Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, including Offton, Hemingstone and Bredfield.
With the warm weekend weather, the fetes enjoyed bumper numbers of visitors and Dr Dan very much enjoyed taking the time to visit the many stalls and sideshows at the popular family events. Community events such as these play a vital role in our rural communities, bringing together residents and visitors to raise funds for local causes and of course, bringing people together to enjoy the traditional summer fetes.
Dr Dan met with and talked to a number of visitors at each event and was delighted with the strong support which he received for the forthcoming General Election.
Aside from visiting farmers and food producers at this year's Suffolk Show, Dr Dan was delighted to see so many local businesses from Central Suffolk exhibiting at the Show.
Dr Dan very much enjoyed visiting those who were exhibiting and recognised that local businesses such as these are vital in contributing to a vibrant local growing economy, whilst also allowing flexibility of working hours for those with young families.
As a keen supporter of local produce and locally sourced foods, Dr Dan enjoyed meeting a number of Suffolk food producers at this year's Suffolk Show. Dr Dan is particularly enthusiastic about the marvellous food and drink offering we have here and always buy his food and drink locally, where he can, to support our local businesses wherever possible.
There is such a diverse range on offer – from locally produced cheeses and meats, to cordials, cider, beer and wine, and sauces, preserves and pickles, all grown, packaged and produced so creatively right in Suffolk. The success of these businesses is vital to our strong rural economy and we all have a part to play in ensuring that we think local and buy local whenever we can. There is so much great work going on here already to educate our children and young people on the importance of not only eating well – a healthy and balanced diet, but also eating locally and seasonally. This is vitally important in reducing the number of miles our food travels before it reaches our plates and of course, fresh produce that's in season always tastes so much better.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich is a predominantly rural constituency and with so many jobs being dependent on the agricultural sector, Dr Dan is a great supporter of our local farmers and regularly meet with the NFU and the farming community to keep abreast of the important work being carried out across this sector, but also to help in raising awareness or addressing their concerns when necessary.
It's a fantastic achievement that so many of our local food and drink producers are already recipients of prestigious awards and Dr Dan was pleased to meet with a number of them at the Suffolk Show to recognise their success and, of course, to try out their new ranges of products.
Visiting the Suffolk Show, Dr Dan was pleased to attend a special Brexit Briefing Breakfast event hosted by the NFU. President of the NFU, Meurig Raymond and their Director of EU Exit and International Trade, Nick von Westenholz set out the NFU's aims and ambitions for British agriculture post-Brexit.
Key issues which factored highly on the "wish list" are trade agreements that work for British farming and in particular, paying heed to the outstanding record of welfare and environmental production standards that are currently adhered to here. In addition, access to a competent and reliable workforce was cited as a key priority, as was the importance of creating a domestic agriculture policy which promotes growth and drives productivity.
Dr Dan regularly meets with farmers and food producers in Central Suffolk and was pleased to offer his support again this morning at Suffolk's flagship event, the annual Suffolk Show. This year saw the show bathed in sunshine and visitors came out in their droves to enjoy all the very best that Suffolk has to offer.
Dr Dan was delighted to show his support for the annual Framlingham Gala, joining the crowd lined streets to enjoy the spectacle.
Although the traditional Gala comprises a whole weekend of activities and events, the main event and Parade take centre spot on the Bank Holiday Monday. This year's Gala theme was "London Shows" and the crowds were treated to colourful procession, with brightly coloured costumes and floats making their way through the streets to finish on Castle Meadow. Alongside the Parade, there were a whole host of activities for families to enjoy including a craft fair, fun fair and marching band.
Framlingham Gala is the key fundraising event for Framlingham Sports Club and Dr Dan was pleased to lend his support, meeting and talking to a great many residents and visitors all enjoying a great family day out.
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Food and Farming: Employment Opportunities — [Mr Charles Walker in the Chair] (25 Apr 2017)
Daniel Poulter: The Minister is making an excellent case for the steps that the Government are taking to promote apprenticeships in the agricultural sector. Given the fact that many people decide on where their careers will take them at a relatively early age—it is probably around age 13 or 14—what steps can be taken to encourage younger people to think about careers in agriculture and the whole...
Food and Farming: Employment Opportunities — [Mr Charles Walker in the Chair] (25 Apr 2017)
Daniel Poulter: I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. He makes a good point, because although the Government have had tremendous success in expanding apprenticeships and vocational training opportunities in many industrial sectors, there is a problem in getting younger people engaged in farming. What are his thoughts on taking a more holistic view of farming, in the context of the whole...