MP's Column

Years ago I took part in a Labour Government study measuring the contribution of the voluntary sector. I was reminded of this on Saturday when I must have met well over 200 volunteers. The day started at the Pirates Clubhouse for the West Cornwall League of Friends annual fete. This was well supported and the Friends are one of the most fun-loving groups I know. Then to Helston to meet Brownies and Guides collecting for the Helston and The Lizard Foodbank. Supporting youth organisations and giving generously is in our DNA in Cornwall and this was in evidence on Saturday.

The perfect way to appreciate our armed forces, past and present, took place at the Southerly Point Armed Forces Day in Porthleven where visitors were treated to an array of things to see and do. My sons left with all sorts of goodies and memorabilia. On to Goldsithney, where various church groups had clubbed together to organise a family fun-day. The enthusiasm displayed by both children and parents when it was my turn in the stocks was disconcerting. I ended the afternoon at RCH Treliske (to celebrate 35 years of the hospital radio) where I met volunteers marking decades of service.

The day concluded at a fund-raising event for the St Buryan Boxing and Fitness Club. This is a fairly recent venture providing activities for people of all ages in my home village.

On a sombre note, I was disappointed by the intimidating behaviour of a group of 38 Degrees campaigners towards my staff member on Friday. The group delivered a petition on a CD to my office. This is absolutely welcome and I have met with representatives of 38 Degrees as part of an informal arrangement to discuss their campaigns. However, there is no reason for staff or my volunteers to be subjected to the kind of behaviour experienced last week and I know that the vast majority of their members would not support such tactics.

So much time and money is given to help others. It is not possible to accurately measure the contribution that so many make but it is possible to enjoy and appreciate it.

Derek Thomas

Member of Parliament for St Ives