On Sunday I was reflecting on two very different aspects of public service.
In Droitwich, at the annual Remembrance parade, service and wreath laying in the town centre, I was again deeply impressed by the support of the people of the town for this important occasion.

In these acts of remembrance, we do many things. Above all, we honour those who fell defending our country and our freedom. We remember the families sadly left behind and we recall the other sacrifices of health, physical and mental, made by our armed forces - and we pledge to do all we can to support both. We also respect the spirit of service of those who still put themselves in harm’s way for our safety.

To meet members of our armed forces, as I am privileged to do in the course of my ministerial duties in many different places, is to be inspired by the sense of purpose and dedication to duty that they demonstrate. The fact that in a town like Droitwich, up and down the country, these acts of remembrance were taking place will be a great source of pride and support for those who serve us today.

But service takes different forms – as the groups parading in Droitwich reminded us so powerfully last Sunday. Representatives of many of the town’s community groups, businesses and voluntary organisations laid their own wreaths, together with hundreds of young people from groups ranging from army cadets and members of the air training corps to young firefighters, guides and scouts.

District and town councillors were there too, of course, but sadly, we were without Don Lawley who died last week. Maureen, his remarkable wife and political partner was there, just as Don would have wished. Don’s life was a life of service too – service to Droitwich and to Wychavon.

Don valued public service highly and stands as a personal testimony to the good that men of principle can do in their communities when they take up the responsibilities of elected office.

At a time when it is more fashionable than ever to sneer at politicians, national and local, I simply observe that those who sneer often do not appreciate the time, persuasiveness and determination it takes to get even simple things done in our democratic system.

Don was a man who was always prepared to take the time, to argue his corner for a cause he believed in. He was determined to do the right thing for Droitwich Spa.

For all this some of which we rightly honour and some of which we can too easily forget, we should be very grateful.


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