Nick Thomas-Symonds MP pays tribute to veterans and war dead in the run up to 100 years since the end of the First World War

Local Member of Parliament, Nick Thomas-Symonds MP, has been marking the centenary since the end of the First World War by supporting local campaigns and visiting the graves of the war dead.

When observing the anniversary, Mr. Thomas-Symonds has paid homage to those who fought and died in the 1914-1918 conflict by supporting memorial services this week across the constituency in Cwmbran, Pontypool and Blaenavon, and laying wreaths to mark the occasion during Armistice week.

Mr. Thomas-Symonds also marked the anniversary by visiting the war graves of local soldiers in France and Belgium in June this year. Commencing with a visit to the Menin Gate in Ypres, Mr. Thomas-Symonds laid a wreath during the traditional “Last Post Ceremony” which takes place every evening accompanied by his predecessor as Torfaen MP, Lord Murphy, who laid a wreath alongside him. He further paid tributes at the cemeteries in Tyne Cot in Ypres, Acheux-en-Amiénois in the Somme – where soldiers from Blaenavon, Cwmbran and Pontypool were laid to rest – and the Mametz Wood where hundreds of Welsh Men fell in combat before attending the service commemorating the 102nd anniversary at the Battle of the Somme held at Thiepval Memorial.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP laying a cross at the grave of a local soldier

On 31 October 2018, Nick Thomas-Symonds then raced alongside serving members of the Armed Forces on an exercise bike to raise money for the Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal. Held from 08:00 to 20:00 in Portcullis House, MPs are challenged to cycle as far as they can in 5 minutes in a battle of will to top the leader board. Mr. Thomas-Symonds cycled over 3km in 5 minutes placing him toward the top of the leader board.

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP racing against Kevin Foster MP in the annual Poppy Appeal Ride

Mr Thomas-Symonds also marked the occasion by joining the Royal British Legion’s movement to say ‘Thank You’ to all who served,sacrificed, and changed our world during the First World War at Labour Party Conference this year. As the centenary year marking the end of the First World War, the charity is calling on mass involvement from the public to recognise the legacy left to us by the entire First World War generation.

‘Thank You’ honours not only the 1.1 million British and Commonwealth Armed Forces who lost their lives in the First World War, but also those who played their part on the home front, and those who returned to build a better life for the benefit of generations to come.

Nick Thomas-Symonds with the Royal British Legion at Labour Party conference

Charles Byrne, Director General of The Royal British Legion, said: “We all have a connection to the First World War, for me it is Private Ross Ryan, my grandfather, and we all have a reason to say ‘Thank You’ to this special generation.

“Whether your personal ‘Thank You’ is an event dedicated to those who made a difference in your community, a visit to a place of significance, or a simple tweet, there’s no limit to the ways people can take part. We are making a plea to every single person across the UK to get involved and take a moment in this very significant year to say ‘Thank You’.”

Mr. Thomas-Symonds said:

“2018 is a particularly poignant year for remembrance given it is the hundredth anniversary of armistice. I was proud and moved to visit the battlefields in France and Belgium to pay my own tribute to those who fell.

“I was also pleased to visit the Royal British Legion’s stand at Labour Party conference earlier this year to hear about their work leading up to the centenary of the end of the First World War. To the farmers who gave up their horses to the war effort; to the women who kept our home fires burning; to the Sassoons and the McCraes whose work has shaped our understanding of conflict; we should indeed say ‘Thank You’. I am saying Thank You to all of those boys and men from the Eastern Valley who lost their lives fighting, and to all those noble men who returned after having fought for our freedom.”

Mr. Thomas-Symonds has also insisted that at the same time as we rightly remember the fallen, we must rightly also ensure that we properly look after our veterans. Coverage of Nick’s campaign on this matter is found online here.

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