Constituency Christmas Card competition

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I’m delighted to announce that the winners of this year’s Christmas Card competition is St Joseph’s Primary School. The winning cards by St Joseph’s are held by Mary Foy (centre), Chair of the Gateshead Council Fairtrade Steering Group, and Jo Lambert (right), Digital Marketing Manager for Traidcraft. Commiserations to the runner-up, Parkhead Community Primary School, whose entry is held by me.

Thanks to all the schools who took part!

Third meeting of the APPG on PKU

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This afternoon we had the third meeting of the APPG on Phenylketonuria (PKU). It was great to discuss the updates in both NICE and NHS England’s appraisal of PKU drug Kuvan, which is still not available on the NHS.

We also discussed the problems many PKU patients are having in getting their essential dietary products prescribed by their local CCGs. I will be writing to CCGs nationwide about this.

I will continue to fight for PKU patients! I hope in the near future we will finally see Kuvan available on the NHS, and also see dietary products more readily available for patients.

Liz visits Maternity Unit at QE Hospital

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This morning I visited the Maternity Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead (QE), along with Gill Walton, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

I was very keen to see first-hand the excellent work done by Midwives at the QE. A recent CQC report rated the Maternity Services at the QE as “Outstanding”; with the Hospital being rated as “Good” overall.

I’ve been delighted today to have seen the tremendous work done by staff at the QE Maternity Unit. It’s made me very proud.

It is important that we now maintain this level of outstanding service. At a time when so many Maternity Units across the country are struggling, it’s essential that we don’t let that happen at the QE. All Maternity Units deserve the high level of service that we have here.

E-petition seeks to award a medal to British personnel involved in nuclear testing programs

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I recently met with one of my constituents, David Rae, who brought with him his Father’s service medals.

David’s Father, Andrew, served on Operation Grapple Y at Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in the Pacific Ocean in 1958 – which was part of the British hydrogen bomb programme. Andrew was one of 22,000 British service personnel who witnessed the nuclear weapons tests.

These men witnessed one of the most devastating weapons our country has produced, but veterans have not been recognised in the way they ought to have been.

In 2015 Fiji paid compensation to soldiers exposed to radiation during British nuclear tests, yet this has not happened in Britain. It is about time British service personnel were rightly recognised.

I am therefore hopeful that people will sign this e-petition to ‘Award a medal to British personnel involved in any nuclear testing program’: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/220170

New petition supports calls for hunting legislation to be strengthened

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This week I signed a petition calling for hunting legislation to be strengthened, as British wildlife is still being targeted due to loopholes in the law.

Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports were in Parliament this week to discuss how ‘trail’ hunting is being used as a cover for illegal hunting and how exemptions and loopholes in the law are resulting in wildlife being chased and killed in the name of ‘sport’.

The Hunting Act 2004 prohibits packs of hounds from chasing and killing foxes, deer, hares and mink, but most hunts converted to ‘trail’ hunting after the ban and use this, as well as exemptions within the law, as an excuse to continue targeting animals.

Strengthening of existing hunting legislation is urgently needed to prevent trail hunting and other false alibis being used to circumvent the law.

Official opening of Henry Colbeck’s new recycling centre

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I love visiting local businesses.

On Friday I visited Henry Colbeck on the Team Valley to officially open their new used cooking oil recycling centre. I was amazed at just how clean and hygienic the whole process is. The family-run company, established in 1983, are leaders in recycling edible oils and fats to be reused for cooking or for biofuels. They are also harnessing new technology, working with PODfather, to make collections and deliveries more efficient, reducing their carbon footprint.

Bill Colbeck, the Chair of the company, was particularly inspirational, taking new risks to make our region’s food industry cleaner and greener.