Monday 15 December 2014

Bomber Command Veteran recognised as daughter presented with campaign medals

Pic with Flt Lt Mike Barton, Cllr Susan Loudon,
Kenneth Talbot and June Talbot
A special presentation ceremony was held on Friday, 12th December to honour the contribution and sacrifice of Sgt Gerard Joseph Talbot.

Alongside Deputy Mayor of Wigan, Cllr Susan Loudon we presented Sgt Talbot’s daughter, June Talbot with four campaign medals awarded to Sgt Talbot for his service with 99 Squadron during WWII (part of the famous Bomber Command) in the presence of Flt Lt Mike Barton, Sergeant Mike Bevan and Chief Technician Andrew ‘Ruby’ Murray of 99 Squadron who had travelled to Wigan from RAF Brize Norton to honour Sgt Talbot.

Sgt Talbot's younger brother Kenneth was also in attendance.

Sgt Talbot’s family had never received his campaign medals and this led me to make representation to the MOD on behalf of Mrs Talbot following a conversation with Mr David Williams of the local Royal British Legion Branch in March 2013. Following due process the campaign medals were issued to my office in November 2014.

The medals awarded were are as follows:

1939-45 Star
War Medal 1939-45
Aircrew Europe Star
Bomber Command Clasp

Sgt Talbot was a rear gunner with 99 Squadron and the crew of the Wellington Bomber were lost without trace on the return from a sortie to Berlin on 9th May 1941.

On 8 September 1939, No 99 Squadron entered WWII with the first of many leaflet-dropping missions over Germany. The first bombing raids were launched on 17 April 1940 during the German invasion of Norway. European bombing operations continued until January 1942.

I am pleased to have played a small part in securing Sgt Talbot’s campaign medals for his daughter, June and I know that she is very proud of her father and his service to his country.

It was a long time to wait, but I know that today means a lot to the family and to today’s 99 Squadron who made the journey from RAF Brize Norton to honour and commemorate their fallen comrade.

Granada Reports ran the remarkable story of Sgt Talbot on its Friday bulletin. You can view the video here.

Sgt Gerard Joseph Talbot, aged 22 was killed in action returning from a sortie to Berlin on 9th May 1941. Sgt Talbot was part of the 99 Squadron of Bomber Command and was a rear gunner flying on the famous Wellington Bomber.

The son of Joseph and Elizabeth Talbot he left a wife, Belinda Park Talbot of Wigan. He was born on 28th April 1919.

Sgt Talbot is remembered with honour at the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey. The Air Forces Memorial commemorates by name over 20,000 airmen who were lost in the Second World War during operations from bases in the United Kingdom and North and Western Europe, and who have no known graves. They served in Bomber, Fighter, Coastal, Transport, Flying Training and Maintenance Commands, and came from all parts of the Commonwealth.

Friday 12 December 2014

A special school presentation for Christmas Card Competition Winner

Jasmin Whittaker
Today, I proudly announced the winner of my 2014 Christmas Card competition Jasmin Whittaker a pupil at Winstanley Community Primary School. I presented Jasmin with a collection of books during the school’s morning assembly.

The competition attracted entries from across the constituency with all of the designs being carefully judged by me.

It was an absolute pleasure to present Jasmin with her prize. It’s a great design and she’s clearly hit the right note, so I’m sure people will enjoy receiving the card in the run up to Christmas.

I know everybody at Winstanley Community Primary School School will be very proud of Jasmin and I am too.”

In this the competition’s 5th year, we had a fantastic response from local schools. The children clearly put a lot of effort into their art-work so it made my job of picking the winner extremely difficult. But I’d like to thank all of the children and their teachers for taking part.

Mrs Karen Thompson, Headteacher Winstanley Community Primary School said, “We submitted many high quality designs, hoping that one of ours would be chosen by Yvonne Fovargue for her Christmas card, so were very pleased when Jasmin’s was selected. We are extremely proud of her and the fact that our school name will now be featured on cards sent to so many important people!”

Yvonne also handed three runner up prizes to Rebecca Herbert, Tom McAllan (Tom was ill so thank you to Mrs Cardwell from Landgate School for attending. Get well soon Tom!) and Ana Kemp. All three designs feature on the back of the card.

Jasmin’s winning design will be sent to a number of distinguished people in the political world, including both the Prime-Minister, David Cameron and the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband. The card will also be sent to individuals across the Wigan Borough including the Mayor of Wigan, Cllr Phyll Cullen.

2014 Christmas Card Competition Winners

1st Prize

Jasmin Whittaker
Year 6
Winstanley Community Primary School

Runners Up

Rebecca Herbert
St Wilfrid’s Catholic Primary School
Ashton in Makerfield

Tom McAllan
Landgate School & College

Ana Kemp
Worsley Mesnes Community Primary School

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Christmas Veterans' Lunch

St Matthew’s Parish Hall in Highfield was the setting for the now annual event attended by veterans from across the Makerfield constituency on Saturday, 6th December.

Attendees tucked into a traditional Christmas Turkey dinner provided by H&H Catering and Pemberton Brass band provided the entertainment.

MC for the day was former Welsh Guard and Falklands War veteran, Cllr Clive Morgan.

This year’s event was especially poignant given the 100th anniversary of the commencement of hostilities in WWI.

On behalf of the whole community across the Makerfield constituency, I want to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution made by the men and women present today both at home and abroad.”

The First World War was a conflict that changed Britain forever. It touched every family, affected every community and fundamentally altered our country’s place in the world.

The centenary anniversary is a unique opportunity for us to commemorate those who served and sacrificed for us on the frontline and the home front, and to think about the profound impact the war had on our society.

In a special gesture tickets for the forthcoming Wigan Athletic v Rotherham Utd match on Saturday, 20th December were made available to veterans attending the lunch.

Cllr Clive Morgan said, “This Christmas also marks the 100th anniversary of the unofficial ‘Christmas Truces’ on the Western Front as German and Allied forces played football across the battlefield and it is a wonderful gesture that later this month Wigan Council working with Wigan Athletic will commemorate this event at the DW stadium in the home game versus Rotherham Utd.”

Monday 8 December 2014

Small Business Saturday

On Saturday, I visited Sportsline, a small business in Ashton in Makerfield to celebrate the contribution of small firms in Wigan as part of this year’s Small Business Saturday.

Sportsline is a member of the Federation of Small Businesses and I was joined by Mark Fergusson, Chairman of FSB Wigan, Warrington, Widnes and St Helens and branch committee member Ed Meeks.

Small Business Saturday is a grass-roots campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support small businesses in the local community. Last year it was the biggest celebration of small businesses in the UK and gave a boost to local shops through extra trade of nearly £500m.

The campaign is supported by all three major political parties and activities were taking place across the country to promote Britain’s small businesses.

It is so important that we support our small and independent businesses. They are a vital part of our local economy and local community and we need to get behind them. They matter to our town, like Sportsline. They add character to the High Street and are a source of local jobs and investment in the community.

There’re lots of great businesses in Wigan and the campaign is a great way of raising awareness and helping boost trade.

So many local businesses are doing a fantastic job. They give us greater choice and that something a little bit special. We all need to put our hands in our pockets to back our local businesses.

Sportsline owner, Ron Hart was formerly a PE Teacher. After leaving his teaching post, Sportsline moved to its current location some 10 years ago and are now in the 25th year of trading. A trusted local business, lines include traditional sports such as rugby, football, racket sports, ski and Sportsline is official stockists for local schools uniform requirements.

More information on Small Business Saturday here.

Friday 5 December 2014


David Cameron and George Osborne have failed every test and broken every promise they’ve made on the economy.

They promised we’d be all in this together but then they gave millionaires a huge tax cut. They promised people would be better off but most people in Wigan are not feeling the recovery and working people are now £1,600 a year worse off under the Tories.

And this cost-of-living crisis is why the Chancellor had to admit that his key promise – to balance the nation’s books by next year – now lies in tatters.

Because wages aren’t rising and too many are stuck in low-paid jobs, the tax revenues we need to get the deficit down aren’t coming in.

Unlike Labour, the Tories don’t understand the fundamental link between the living standards of everyday working people in Wigan and Britain’s ability to deal with the deficit. George Osborne has now borrowed a staggering £219 billion more than he planned and the economy is set to slow down next year after forecasts for wages have been revised down again.

Yet the Chancellor still tries to claim that the economy is fixed and his plan is working. How out of touch can you get? What we needed yesterday was the better and fairer plan Labour has set out.

Labour’s plan will raise the minimum wage, expand free childcare for working parents, scrap the bedroom tax and cut business rates for small firms. We will balance the books in a fairer way, starting by reversing the Tories’ £3 billion a year tax cut for the top one per cent of earners.

Changing stamp duty to help people on middle and low incomes is welcome, but we also need to get more homes built and we need a Mansion tax to help save and transform our NHS. With an extra £2.5 billion a year on top of Tory spending plans we can get the extra 20,000 nurses and 8,000 GPs we need to help transform our NHS and save it from the Tories.

The Tories promised to eliminate the deficit by 2015 but with less money coming in because of their wrong economic decisions, they’ve broken their promise, failed their own economic test and its hardworking people who are paying the price. It’s time for an economic recovery for the many, not just a few.