Two summer opportunities for budding young journalists

July 1, 2015

I am pleased to see that the News Academy is running two free summer-time activities for budding young journalists to get a flavour of the profession and hone their skills.

The News Academy Summer School is a free week-long journalism training programme for students aged 16 to 18 from across the UK and Ireland. Based at the London headquarters of The Times, Sunday Times, and The Sun, 15 students will get the opportunity to write, edit, and publish their own newspaper, with the help of some top journalists. Accommodation, travel, and food in London are included for the duration of the Summer School.

Students can apply on the News Academy website with the submission of an essay of up to 500 words on something they are passionate about. Applications close at midnight on 19th July.

Secondly, the Great British Sound Off is a programme for 18 to 24 year olds for which the News Academy has teamed up with The Sun newspaper to run a competition seeking out promising young columnists. Five 18 to 24 year-old finalists will see their column appear in The Sun Newspaper.

To apply, entrants need to write about why they deserve to win and submit 200 words on something they feel passionate about at

Both of these are excellent opportunities, and I urge all aspiring journalists in North East Hertfordshire to apply.

The National Citizen Service in Hertfordshire

March 26, 2015

It’s good to hear news that, during the February half-term, 220 young people participated in the National Citizen Service with Youth Connexions Hertfordshire. As a strong supporter of the NCS, seeing that these young people have spent 6,600 hours volunteering on social action projects to help their local areas is very encouraging. The NCS aims to provide 16- and 17-year-olds with the skills needed for work, life, and the transition to adulthood, and I’m delighted that so many young people are taking full advantage of it.

The NCS’s programmes with Youth Connexions Hertfordshire continue throughout 2015 with opportunities for another 1,000 young people. I urge young people across North East Hertfordshire to get involved with this excellent scheme.

Speaking to Lancaster University Conservative Future

October 31, 2013

I am often asked to speak to audiences outside North East Herts. On Saturday I was invited by Leighton Hughes, a constituent who is the Chairman of Lancaster University Conservative Future, to an evening of “Port and Policy.” Also attending was local MP Eric Ollerenshaw MP. The event was held in the ballroom at the Royal Kings Arms in Lancaster and was extremely well attended by over 50 young Conservatives. We discussed a range of policy issues ranging from the Human Rights Act to the political positioning of the Conservative Party. We had a very enjoyable time and it was interesting to hear the views of students who are politically active and whom the Conservative Party should be listening to. It was good to see students in action debating the issues. There was a chocolate fountain too which coupled with the port made for a great combination and very positive evening.

On Sunday I met a group of Lancaster solicitors over coffee. We discussed a range of legal issues and it was very helpful to hear their views.

Apprenticeships Week -Visit to Palazzo Restaurant

February 15, 2011

On Friday I visited Palazzo restaurant in Royston, to support National Apprenticeships Week. Palazzo has a good record of taking apprentices and the Manager, Laura Hadley-Charter, has herself undertaken an apprenticeship. I was able to meet Apprentice Chef Stephen Cook and talk to him about his apprenticeship, which he is enjoying, before he cooked a delicious three course Italian meal. He has certainly come a long way over the last few months and he is my tip as a future “Master Chef”. Stephen is soon to move into Royston which will make life easier for him and I certainly wish him well for the future.

The photograph shows Stephen Cook, me, Cathryn Henry from the National Apprenticeships Service and Laura Hadley-Charter.

Today’s figures on Youth Unemployment

December 16, 2009

Today’s figures on youth unemployment are shocking. Almost 1 million young people are looking for work in the UK. This is much higher than in 1998. Our young people should not become strangers to the World of Work. The loss they suffer is not just the lack of money from wages, but also the sapping of morale and aspiration.

Locally youth unemployment is almost double what it was a year ago. Conservatives propose to reward small and medium sized businesses for taking on new employees and to improve the quality and number of apprenticeships. We need a stronger response to the recession too with a sound approach to public spending and an effective loan guarantee scheme to help business survive. Let’s hope we have a better year in 2010.

Opening of the All Weather Pitch for Royston at Meridian School

September 21, 2009

What a treat it was today to meet the great Peter Shilton on the opening of the All Weather Pitch for Royston at Meridian School. It was also kind of him to keep the fixture on the same day as Sir Bobby Robson’s Memorial at Durham Cathedral. Peter played England football for 8 years under Sir Bobby, often as Captain, but he explained that he had played a testimonial at Newcastle 2 days before Sir Bobby’s death and felt he had said farewell with happy memories of a great manager.

Me with Peter Shilton

Me with Peter Shilton

School Head Mike Firth explained the decade long battle to secure the funding for the Pitch and thanked Johnson Matthey Sports and Social Club and the PLC for all their help in getting the project going with substantial funding. It was noteworthy that JM’s busy CEO Neal Carson – of (let’s not forget) a major FTSE 100 Company – personally attended the launch today. In fact it was a real Royston occasion with many leading figures – councillors, including F John Smith, Council Leader and 50 years a Royston councillor and County Councillors Hunter and Hill, as well as Royston FC chief Alan Barlow.

The students are loving the new facilities and Peter Shilton spoke of the huge improvement in the quality of all weather surfaces, since the early days when as a goalie he had to dress up with Michelin Man-style padding in the early days. I asked him who should be the current England Keeper and he politely explained that he is still available for selection to add to his 120 caps. So, watch out David Beckham, you may face a moving target in trying to overtake Peter!

Spot the ball competition
Spot the ball competition

The money for the new Pitch came from the Football Foundation and the Brian Racher Trust as well as JMSSC. I think the Foundation do a great job in improving facilities and I know the late Brian Racher would be pleased too. The facilities in Royston have been transformed in recent years and our sport is now well catered for – long may it last. What’s next – perhaps a new football ground?

Peter Shilton with leading Royston figures

Peter Shilton with leading Royston figures

Office Intern Rachel blogs on the Budget

April 22, 2009
Rachel the Intern

Rachel the Intern

Today my office intern writes her reaction to today’s Budget from the House of Commons. Take it away Rachel:

“To have the opportunity to sit in the House of Commons and watch one of the most important events of the year, especially now due to the large-scale economic down-turn, was certainly something of an experience. The two things that interested me most were the large increase in borrowing and the new money the Chancellor plans to spend on young people. Just having more new 6th form places available isn’t going to bring the numbers that the Government want to see because young people are asking what this extra education will be worth at the end of it. Most of the people I know who have applied for EMA have had to wait for months to receive the benefits, if it’s not encouraging people now why will it encourage more young people after this Budget? Overall it was interesting to see the party debates over the Budget.”