Politically Speaking: Imran Ahmad Khan, MP for Wakefield - Volunteers' service is vital to communities
Like many people across the country and around the world, my thoughts have been with Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family since the announcement of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Prince Philip was a man who dedicated his life to serving his country, and demonstrated a selfless commitment to his duties, especially through his naval service during World War Two.
This past year has been incredibly difficult for all of us: families have been torn apart, businesses forced to close and loved ones lost.
Yet, in our NHS workers, and army of volunteers, we have seen these exact qualities and values.
In Wakefield, and across the entire country, we have seen people make great personal sacrifices to help safeguard one another, protect the NHS, and help stop the spread of COVID-19.
It is this communal responsibility and sacrifice that emulates the values that Prince Philip himself embodied.
Like everyone in Wakefield, I was astounded to see the mess that had been left in our parks and open spaces after the first lifting of lockdown restrictions.
But I was cheered by the members of our community – especially the children – who took it upon themselves to take pride in our city and clean up the litter that some had irresponsibly left behind.
It is the same spirit that has seen young and old alike coming together throughout the pandemic to give their help where it has been most needed.
In the coming weeks, we will begin to regain freedoms that we have sacrificed.
As we do so, we must all remain mindful not to forget the lessons of the pandemic.
Our communities have always relied on volunteers to help those who are isolated and vulnerable, and we should all continue to take an active role where we can.
This voluntary service can take a great many different forms, whether that is picking up litter, sharing reassuring and accurate vaccine information with friends and relatives who are unsure, helping vulnerable neighbours with their shopping or supporting a local charity or club.
The organisation founded by Prince Philip to help young people to fulfil their potential, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, emphasises the importance of volunteering, and of perseverance in the face of challenge.
Understanding and embracing these values has been a critical element in the success of our key workers and volunteers in helping all of us, ensuring that vital services remained available, and that those who are most vulnerable received the support that was so desperately needed.
As we all mourn the death of Prince Philip, we also reflect on, and celebrate, his life and service, both to the Queen and to the nation.
His life serves as a shining example that I hope will continue to inspire people, regardless of where they live, how old they are, or what their beliefs are.
As we emerge from lockdown, and return to normality, let us learn from the lessons of the pandemic, and from the life and sacrifices of the Duke of Edinburgh, to help to create a better community, one that is founded on the value of volunteerism.