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.
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West, has this week been appointed by the new Labour Party leader, Keir Starmer MP, to his shadow ministerial team.
Sharon will be serving in the Shadow Defence team as Shadow Minister for Veterans, led by John Healey MP, the new Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.
Sharon had previously served for 4.5 years as the Shadow Minister for Public Health under Jonathan Ashworth MP.
"I'm delighted to be asked to serve in Keir Starmer's shadow ministerial team as the Shadow Minister for Veterans.
"The North East has a rich military history and I am looking forward to representing our communities from the Opposition front bench."
Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:
“I'm delighted Sharon is part of Labour's new shadow defence team. She's one of the best campaigning MPs in the House of Commons and she'll now lead our Labour crusade for veterans. Sharon will be a major asset for our front bench team."
Sharon Hodgson, Member of Parliament for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Minister for Public Health, is supporting a callout for the Second World War generation
In order to mark the 75th anniversaries of VE and VJ Day, on the 8th May and 15th August respectively, veterans of the Second World War, both military and civilian, are being asked to register to be part of the nation’s commemorations.
Veterans can be of British, Commonwealth or Allied origin and all costs for their attendance will be met by The Royal British Legion and its partners.
‘I’m delighted to be supporting the callout for these important anniversaries.
‘I take great pride in the fact that members of my own family served in the Armed Forces, including my father in the Royal Navy, Uncle in the Army and cousin in the Royal Marines.
‘It is so important that we recognise the sacrifice and dedication of the Armed Forces community, the British and Commonwealth veterans, the Allies that fought alongside us and the civilian servicemen and women involved in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts.’
Further information can be found here: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-involved/remembrance/remembrance-events
Registration closes for VE Day veterans on 17 February and for VJ Day veterans on 31 March.
As Honorary President of the Washington Branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), Sharon helps the RBL and the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) launch their poppy appeal for 2017, at Sainsbury's and ASDA at the Galleries in Washington.
Sharon joined ex-service men and women volunteer poppy sellers, who are giving up their time this month once again, to raise money and awareness, for this year’s appeal.
Sharon Hodgson MP's report - Nov-Dec 2016 number 90
Sharon met with ex-service men and women volunteer poppy sellers, who are giving up their time this month once again, to raise money and awareness, for this year’s appeal. 2214 (Usworth) Squadron, Air Training Corps Cadet volunteers were also out in good force to help make sure the appeal is a big success.
(pictured above) Sharon with the volunteer poppy sellers - the Washington Branch of the Royal British Legion and the 2214 (Usworth) ATC Cadets - at ASDA in the Galleries, Washington