November is of course the month where we remember those who have fought for our country and lost their lives in conflict. Remembrance Day has a special poignancy this year, as it is 100 years to the day since the First World War ended. There are a variety of special events to mark the centenary across Dorset, and I will be attending several of them. I will be starting early with Battle O’er bagpipes in Poole Park, then later attending the morning parade in Wareham, bell ringing in Lytchett Matravers in the afternoon followed by the parade in Corfe Mullen. At sundown I will be in Wimborne for the lighting of a beacon in the cemetery.
Six million men served in the First World War, and over 725,000 never returned. Nearly 2 million who did return were disabled, and the British Legion was formed in 1921 to care for those who had suffered as a result of service in the Armed Forces during the war, whether through their own service or through that of a husband, father or son. The first ever Poppy Appeal was held in 1921 and has been running ever since. The Poppy was used as a symbol of Remembrance and hope, and all the poppies are produced by the Poppy factory, which employs veterans and helps them get into work.
But Remembrance Day is not just about the First or Second World Wars. It is also a chance to remember and honour those who have died serving our country more recently. Earlier this year I was delighted that my nominee for an NHS 70 award won the excellence in mental care award. This was the Dorset Armed Forces Community Health and Wellbeing Project which aims to reduce health inequalities for veterans and families of both retired and serving personnel. It is important that we continue to support our Armed Forces and veterans, both nationally and locally.
Over the summer I met with one of our local veterans who was chosen to represent our country on the international stage. Alan White is an ex- Royal Marine and was selected as one of 72 military veterans to represent the UK in October's Invictus Games in Sydney. The Invictus Games is an international adaptive multisport event, created by Prince Harry in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and their associated veterans take part in sports. Alan has been supported in his efforts by many local people, the British Legion and Help for Heroes. At the time of writing, the games have not yet started, but I am certain that Alan will have done us, and his family proud.
However you choose to observe Remembrance Day, it is important that the enormity of the debt of gratitude we owe to our armed forces – both past and present – is remembered, both now and for generations to come.