Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 30 December 2023
Tragic death of 7-year-old William Brown
This Christmas we have all been touched by the tragic death of the seven-year-old William Brown, after he was struck by a vehicle on Sandgate Esplanade on 6 December. Such incidents are every parent’s worst nightmare, that a young boy chasing after his football should lose his life in such tragic circumstances. We all feel, there but for the grace of God go I.
It has been the hope of his parents, Laura and Will, that their son should be laid to rest in the churchyard of St Mary and St Eanswythe in Folkestone, which was a place that William knew well and was next to his school on The Bayle.
This churchyard had however, been closed following an 1855 Act of Parliament and then by order of the Privy Council. At the time this decision was taken because town centre churchyards were full, and in Folkestone this led to the creation of a new cemetery on Cheriton Road. There are a few precedents for exemptions being granted for burials to take place in closed churchyards, but these require both the agreement of the Church and the approval of the Privy Council. Even if these permissions are granted, there is also the difficulty of trying to find a place for burial in a churchyard that was considered to be full.
I would like to thank Reverend John Walker, the Vicar of St Mary and St Eanswythe’s church, and the Archdeacon of Ashford, Darren Miller, for their tireless work on behalf of the Brown family. As a result, a location for burial has been found, and the permission of the Church of England was granted. On 29 December, His Majesty King Charles, gave his approval for the Order in Council to be granted, and I would also like to thank my parliamentary colleague, Penny Mordaunt, who as Lord President of the Council, helped to ensure that this part of the process ran as quickly and smoothly as possible.
The King’s Christmas Address
In his Christmas address this year, The King observed that, ‘Many of the festivals of the great religions of the world are celebrated with a special meal. A chance for family and friends to come together across generations; the act of sharing food adding to conviviality and togetherness.’
All families who have lost a loved one in the past year will have given painful reflection to that missing place at the table, but drawn comfort from the fellowship and support that is there for them. I also want to thank those people who, as a consequence of their duties, in particular in our emergency services and armed forces, are required to be apart from their families at Christmas.
The first day of January always feels like a fresh start, and as we move forward into 2024 I send you my best wishes for all the hope and opportunity that it brings. At times, progress in whatever field can feel like a long time in coming, but as we welcome the dawn of the New Year I am reminded of those famous lines of the poem by Arthur Clough,
‘And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light,
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly,
But westward look, the land is bright.’Arthur Clough