Shetland Times Column 22nd October 2021

The murder of Sir David Amess MP last Friday was dreadful and shocking. My thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends, colleagues and staff.

Tributes from across all parties spoke of his kindness, diligence and humour in his public service over nearly 40 years.

The dignified statement from the family of Sir David Amess over the weekend demonstrate, after the horrific actions of one individual, all that is good and decent. Despite their lives being shattered at the tragic loss of a much-loved husband and father, they said,

“So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.

Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.”

Tolerance, kindness and love.  Those words matter, just like those of Jo Cox MP.

"We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us."

What is not often seen by the outside world listening or watching the news and seeing only the combative debates in the chambers at Westminster and Holyrood, is the cross party and partnership working that goes on behind the scenes. It is also where friendships can be made with people from other parties, while sharing views on an issue that you want to improve or make progress on, and generally trying to make life better for those you represent.

One of the very many issues Sir David Amess championed was women’s health, and particularly endometriosis. He was Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Endometriosis. It is a condition that affects millions of women yet it can take an average of eight and a half years before getting a diagnosis.

I recently met with the North Highland support group, which includes Orkney and Shetland. We discussed the lack of understanding and recognition that still seems prevalent in some schools and workplaces as to just how debilitating it can be for people suffering from this disease. It restricts lives and can also impact on careers.

When girls can miss one week in four from school, that has to have a serious impact on their learning and ultimately their life chances. And it leads to questioning how teaching staff can identify and support pupil sufferers. Online learning is now possible so perhaps it is time to consider how that technology can be used for pupils who regularly miss class as a consequence of living with endometriosis.

Information about North Highland Support Group for Endometriosis UK can be found online or on Facebook.

The Scottish Parliament returns next week after the October recess. With COP26 due to start at the end of the month, there is hope that this time there will be meaningful and real change to prevent the climate catastrophe that we are hurtling fast towards. Words matter, and those from global leaders have never been more keenly anticipated or important.

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