Earlier this week I was very pleased to announce that my head shave raised £2,330 for Age Uk Suffolk. I am so grateful for everyone’s generosity. It really shows how important the charity is to people locally. Our charities have never been so important, yet at the same time, many are financial pressures due to their traditional fundraising activities being disrupted by Covid-19.

As we recover from this crisis, our charitable sector will play a pivotal role in helping thousands of vulnerable people across the county. If you’re able to donate to a charity you care about, the chances are that your donation will never be so gratefully received. If you can help, please do, however small the donation; all added together it could make the world of difference.

I must say that I’m not keen on the new look and it will only be temporary. I’ve spent a lot of time in Christchurch Park this week and I do seem to have got a few strange looks; who could blame them! I was at least hoping that it being parliamentary recess would mean I would have one full week of modest hair growth before being caught on the television screens. I was wrong. Even though it is recess, the House of Commons Select Committees have still been meeting and little to my knowledge the entire Education Select Committee was broadcast live on the BBC Parliament Channel. Within minutes of the meeting starting I had received multiple messages from friends who were completely unaware of my fundraising initiative and were slightly surprised by my new look.

As it was, it was a very important and timely Education Select Committee where I was able to ask the schools’ minister Nick Gibb, a number of questions about the planned phased reopening of primary schools. I had a very valuable virtual meeting with local primary school heads a couple of weeks ago and I was able to raise the points they’d raised with me directly with the minister.

One of the good things about some of the lock down restrictions being relaxed, is that I’m able to pay a few visits across town and this Wednesday I visited the Port of Ipswich. I was glad to see that over the past couple of months the port has been pretty much as busy as usual. Around 90 percent of workers have still been coming in and there have been significant numbers of shipments. It was interesting to hear about quite how much timber has been imported and how high demand has been. The feeling was, that due to people having more time off at home and having postponed holidays etc, they are in a position where they want to carry out increased activity in their homes and gardens; hence the increased demand for timber for fences, sleepers and so on. Vast quantities of fertiliser have also arrived at the port in time for the Suffolk harvest.

A huge number of my constituents work at either the Port of Felixstowe or the Port of Ipswich and they’ve done a terrific job keeping things ticking over and the country trading during these incredibly difficult times. I am personally extremely proud to represent a town where port heritage is so important and where so many of my constituents work at ports. The people I have met who work at either of the two ports really appreciate the value of the work they carry out and I always get a buzz when I visit either port as they’re about the world, our future and they scream out all manner of possibilities for both our area and our country.

I imagine like many readers I’ve enjoyed being able to meet up with friends one at a time in public spaces. As someone who lives alone this has come as a welcome relief. I am under absolutely no illusion how difficult the past few months have been for many of my constituents, it’s been difficult for all of us to some degree, but incredibly difficult for others. My team and I have received huge volumes of emails over the past couple of months and I have done my very best to keep on top of everything and do whatever I can to support my constituents. There have been many occasions where we have been able to make a positive difference and other occasions where sadly it’s felt like bashing my head against a brick wall.

As I’ve been on my walks this week across town, whilst acknowledging the stunning beauty of our parks and enjoying the weather, it’s also been sad to see so much of what makes our town special closed off. Our brilliant pubs closed. Restaurants and cafes closed. Hairdressers closed. Clothes shops closed. You name it, the list goes on. Ordinarily at this time of year during this weather, they’d all be heaving, particularly our pubs. On Tuesday, after spending a couple of hours in the park, and getting some nasty mosquito bites (one on my knee) I actually headed off to the Woolpack for a cider, forgetting for a moment it was closed; I appreciate it and other pubs like the Greyhound and the Arcade Tavern for offering a fantastic takeaway service.

Like other parts of the country, we have suffered greatly as a result of Covid-19 in a number of different ways. The loss of life has been devastating and it pains me that many of my constituents have left us because of this deadly virus and I’m conscious of the pain and heartache this will be causing their loved ones.

We should not be complacent about the threat still posed by Covid-19.

However, we must continue to take baby steps towards an end goal that ultimately allows our town to fire on all cylinders again, socially, culturally and economically.

We have come together during this crisis and the selflessness shown by many across the town has been humbling yet there remains a huge job to do to ensure we can recover from this crisis fully in every sense, and the work needs to start now