You can read Sharon's latest Echo column below or on the Sunderland Echo website.
Tomorrow (Friday 8th May), the nation will mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Like all events planned since March this year, tomorrow’s Victory in Europe: VE Day commemoration will be different to how it was initially planned; but the country will still come together to pay tribute to the Second World War generation and remember the sacrifices made by British, Commonwealth and Allied Forces.
Whilst the country is facing some of the most challenging times since the Second World War, we are united in awe at the spirit of Captain Tom Moore who has raised over £32 million for NHS Charities Together, after setting a target of £1,000.
But Captain Moore isn’t the only veteran who is raising money and continuing to serve his community.
Former service personnel across the country are joining charities and volunteers to provide: food packages to those in need, someone to talk to so that people don’t get lonely during the lockdown and a helping hand to anyone who needs it. Veterans in Crisis Sunderland are the perfect example of communities coming together, even during lockdown.
We are also seeing 20,000 serving personnel play their part in the fight against Coronavirus. Helping with the ambulance service, delivering personal protective equipment, setting up mobile testing sites and flying Brits home from their nightmare holiday situations are just a few examples of how our armed forces continue to adapt to serve us.
As the new Shadow Veterans’ Minister, I am proud of our armed service personnel, past and present, and believe that we should all share that pride, not just on a few days of the year, but every day.
Our armed forces do so much for us, and like all public services including the NHS, we need to do more than just thank them. We need to make sure that they are protected, and they have the support they need.
That is why one of my first tasks as Shadow Veterans’ Minister was to call on the Government to re-open the Veterans UK helpline, which provides valuable support to veterans but has closed due to Coronavirus. Other businesses and charities have been able to re-direct their helplines to a working from home setting, so there is no reason why the Government can’t do the same to support our veterans.
Tomorrow, like many across the country, I will be joining in with the VE Day commemoration and remembrance of those who served in World War II and will be giving thanks to our veterans and serving personnel, who continue to serve us and make us proud.