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'Our town thrived in the spotlight'

Stratford-on-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi. Photo: Liz Drake, www.lizdrakephotography.co.uk
Stratford-on-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi. Photo: Liz Drake, www.lizdrakephotography.co.uk

Stratford-on-Avon MP Nadhim Zahawi writes for the Herald...

WHENEVER we reach this time of year, pass through the Christmas festivities and cast our eye towards what the next 12 months hold for us, we often find ourselves pausing to reflect upon the months just gone.

There has been more to reflect upon than usual in 2016, a year unusually packed full of events. We started 2016 building up to the 400th anniversary of the end of the life of our most famous son, William Shakespeare.

People and news organisations came from every corner of the world to Stratford to celebrate his life, and the town put on a show that we can all be proud of. The only shame is that it all already feels so long ago. As we moved further into the year, the referendum on our future in Europe took centre stage.

There was a surprise to many as our country voted to leave the European Union with a vote of 52 per cent to 48 per cent that was mirrored in Stratford District, leading to both celebrations for the winners, and some trepidation for the losers.

This historic event brought about the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister and the elevation of the Theresa May. The referendum dominated the landscape of 2016, and it is likely to be the first and foremost political issue for a number of years to come, as the Prime Minister navigates the nation towards a beneficial Brexit.

Although Brexit was the largest political event of 2016, it was by no means the only one, particularly on the world’s stage, as we saw continued horrific devastation in Syria and the election of Donald Trump.

On a happier note, 2016 also saw British athletes conquer the world in almost every sport during the Olympics and Paralympics, including local hero, Nick Skelton, before we even consider the almost superhuman efforts of Andy Murray throughout the year.

It was just unfortunate the England football team couldn’t match the efforts of Wales at Euro 2016! I was also pleased to see another type of success well rewarded this year, as our fantastic local businesses were praised by thousands of constituents who took part in my Independent Shop Awards.

This competition is always one of my highlights for the year, and it has been fantastic to see how much the local people of Stratford have fully embraced the competition, in a way that can only be a tribute to their passion for buying locally, and the high quality businesses in our area too.

There has been a lot of change this last year, and there will be much more change to come next year, as Theresa May commences Britain’s exit from the EU, and we all look to tackle the problems we face in the world. However, these local events show us that some things never change.

We always have a fantastic community in Stratford; we are always united in a love of our area, the people who live here and our local high street businesses. That’s one thing we can guarantee staying the same in 2017.

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