MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

This weekend was the 70th anniversary of the Freckleton air disaster and I was pleased to see the number of people who came out to pay their respects on a date which helped shape the history of that part of rural Fylde.

The tragedy saw a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Consolidated B-24 Liberator come down in a violent storm during a routine test flight from the nearby Warton Aerodrome, now BAE Systems, on August 23, 1944.

During the crash, the aircraft devastated Holy Trinity Primary School and demolished three houses and the nearby Sad Sack Snack Bar. The death toll was 61, including 38 children, and the incident is commonly recognised among the worst air disasters in Britain during the Second World War.

The impact of the tragedy can still be felt strongly in Freckleton today; a garden and children’s playground in memory of those lost were opened in August 1945 while the memorial hall was completed in September 1977. In addition to the dedication in the village churchyard, a marker was placed at the site of the accident on Trinity Close in 2007.

Today, it is difficult to imagine such an appalling tragedy taking place so close to home and even during a time of war, Freckleton’s was a loss which remained long in the memory.

On Saturday, hundreds of people, including survivors, relatives of the victims and villagers, attended a service at Holy Trinity Church on Lytham Road in a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the disaster and proof that the community spirit is as strong in Freckleton today as it was during those tumultuous war years.

As a Scotsman serving an English constituency in a British Parliament, I am one of a small number of people with a unique view on the debate on Scottish independence and am pleased to support the campaign to keep the UK together.

There are many reasons why I believe in a united Britain and I do not feel that those who are campaigning for an independent Scotland have made a convincing argument which goes beyond rhetoric and tackles some of the major issues involved.

However, at its heart of hearts this debate is about Britain’s relationship as a United Kingdom and I know many people who remain extremely proud of being part of one of the most successful monetary, fiscal and political unions in history.

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