D&S: Christmas arrives in Sunak household

CHRISTMAS really arrived in the Sunak household with a series of festive engagements in the constituency.

As well as picking up the Christmas tree for our home at Kirby Sigston, I was able to support Leyburn Band at the start of its 24 hour Carolthon and take part in Herriot Hospice Homecare’s Santa Run.

The band’s carol-playing marathon started at 6pm on Saturday evening and ran through the night. What stamina!

I can’t play a musical instrument so my contribution was limited to conducting. But it was great fun and an amazing effort in aid of the BBC’s Children in Need appeal. My congratulations to all who took part.

Earlier in the day, together with my wife Akshata, I joined the hardy souls tackling the annual Santa Run at Stone Cross, Northallerton. Running 5k in what seemed like a Force 8 gale while wearing a full Santa suit plus beard wasn’t easy but everyone stuck to the task to raise money for our local hospice homecare service.

Thanks to everyone at the hospice and Tony Norris of Northallerton parkrun (cor) for staging the event in horrendous conditions and also Cllr Stephen Dickens, chairman of Hambleton District Council, and his wife Margaret for presenting medals to all the finishers. We will certainly treasure ours ­­– and they handily double as decorations for our tree

On a more serious note, we have all watched with sadness and shock the extreme difficulties encountered by flooding victims across the North of England last weekend.

As reported elsewhere in this week’s paper, the Yorkshire Dales were hit with roads blocked by floodwater and fallen trees but the North-West and Cumbria suffered the worst. It was good to hear that the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team and other emergency services personnel from North Yorkshire were able to help with the rescue operations in Cumbria as well as at home. I pay tribute to all involved in helping those in need.

I KNOW I do bang on about business but helping new enterprises get established and grow is vital for the future of our part of Yorkshire and, because of what I did before I entered the world of politics, it is also something of which I have plenty of relevant experience.

I was keen, therefore, to back Small Business Saturday last weekend. This is a Government initiative to highlight the crucial role small businesses play in the economy and to encourage people to use them and shop local.

Just before the Santa Run I called in on Olivia’s Cafe and Bakery in Northallerton High Street and met manager Steve Hewitt and his enthusiastic team. This business is just a few years old and now has branches in Stokesley, Thirsk, York and Gosforth. It has developed a wholesale element and I was particularly impressed by its policy of sourcing many of the goodies served in the cafes from other local businesses – for example Rounton Coffee Roasters just up the road at East Rounton.

Finally, I’d like to express my thanks to the 50 or so members of Great Smeaton Young Farmers’ Club who kindly invited me to their meeting last Friday. In a lengthy Q&A session, members asked all sorts of questions from the NHS and welfare to TB and Syria. Who says young people aren’t interested in politics?