The Jenner Hall in Cricklade set me a real challenge last weekend.
Robert Jenner was the MP for the area around the time of the Civil War, and left money in his will to build a school ‘for the teaching only of Latin’, and £20 a year for the schoolmaster’s salary. Thanks to some very hard work by local people, especially in recent years, that school still stands, is in pretty good shape, and now provides a lovely community hall. I hold my surgeries there at least partly in memory of my predecessor of 350 years ago.
Anyhow, they decided to seal a time capsule in the loft to be rediscovered and opened in a hundred years’ time, and invited me to leave a letter to whoever is then MP for Cricklade. It was fun to scribble down my half-formed thoughts about life and politics in 21st Century England, and to imagine our descendants poring over it in 2114.
My historic links to Cricklade go back to my days at Oxford, forty years ago, when my thesis was about a chap called Robert of Cricklade. He was a monk from the village, who eventually became Prior of St Frideswide’s in Oxford around 1130 AD. He was one of very earliest masters in Oxford, and so could be argued to have founded the University. When I was writing my thesis I probably barely knew where Cricklade was, and now I am privileged to represent it in Parliament.
I am immensely proud of this constituency and the many fascinating places and events in it. It was good to know that the Prime Minister was in Malmesbury on Friday visiting Dyson - whose £1.5 billion investment in design and engineering will do so much for the whole of the West Country. It is great to know that soldiers from IX Regiment at Hullavington where I enjoyed a curry lunch with the RSM last week, are amongst those incredibly brave people who have voluntarily deployed to West Africa to help beat Ebola. And several local companies and people played key roles in the European Space Agency's remarkable achievement of landing their Philae lander on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
Business, agriculture, the military, high tech industries and so much more. We have a great deal to be proud of in this wonderful area. And I hope that when my successor as MP in 2114 opens the Jenner Hall time capsule, he or she will be able to be just as proud of the area and its diverse and wonderful achievements as I am.