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Celebrating Business in Burnley

Another action packed week began with a visit to a local company. The Speakman brothers, Andrew and Chris brought their individual businesses together in 2009 to form the very successful Speakman’s Contractors. Since then the company, that provides a range of services including electrical, plumbing and building, has gone from strength to strength. The brothers are passionate about what they do and are proud to have been recognised at Burnley Business Awards for the best Apprenticeship Scheme. It was a pleasure to hear another Burnley success story.

There is definitely no shortage of talent and entrepreneurial spirit in Burnley. On Wednesday this was again apparent when I met Lorraine Tulley. Sometime ago Lorraine came across a small replica of the Coronation Chair that sits in Westminster Abbey. Research soon revealed that the model was originally created by a Burnley man. Lorraine’s interest in this has grown and she has been inspired to begin produce replicas herself. The quality of her work has been acknowledged by Prince Charles and I was very proud to see these on sale recently, in the education centre at Westminster Abbey.

I was pleased to purchase a picture painted by local artist, Peter Chippendale to display in my office on Keirby Walk. Peter has lived in and around Burnley all his life and many of his paintings depict Burnley scenes. He paints “bendy mill chimneys and wobbly houses” and I recommend that you take a look. My picture shows Claret fans bustling around Turf Moor ahead of a match vs Blackburn Rovers and I’m sure I will never tire of looking at it.

On Wednesday and Thursday I was pleased to attend special commemoration events to remember hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Royal Edward, culminating in a service in the peace garden at Towneley. The Royal Edward was a troop ship, enroute to Gallipolli when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. Around a thousand service personnel lost their lives; many of whom were in the Royal medical Corps and around 60 Burnley people were amongst them. The Bishop of Burnley and the military padre who led the service were, quite rightly, keen to remind us of the names and lives of these men so that they are remembered as more than statistics. It was very moving to hear of local lad Arthur Gilbert Altham, aged only 17 years, former cotton worker living on Cromwell Street in Stoneyholme. He, like so many men in World War 1, was denied a future. The commemoration activities were a credit to the organisers: Burnley Council and the 207 Army Reservist Unit

I hope you will forgive me if I end on a personal note and share with you another very special moment of my week. On Saturday my only daughter, Anna, married Burnley man, Dale Shepherd. It was a very proud and emotional day for both families and a real pleasure to see a relationship that began eleven years ago at Habergham High School culminate in such a joyful way. I wish them a long and happy marriage.

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