A strong experienced voice for North Wiltshire
I offer long-standing experience and a track record as a successful, hard-working and caring representative of North Wiltshire in Parliament.
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Thursday 25 February 2021 Weekly Column

There was a bit of a reminiscence of the Military Repatriation ceremonies down Royal Wootton Bassett High Street on two occasions this week. (Can it really be ten years since the town was honoured with its ‘Royal’ soubriquet to mark its respects to our fallen servicemen and women?).

On Tuesday it was the sad funeral of dear Mr Enam Chowdhury. Enam was the proprietor of the first-class Ganges Restaurant in Bassett High Street. He played a central role in the Bassett Community - especially with regard to the Rotary Club and other charities. For example, he very often gave use of his restaurant to various local groups for fundraising activities; and more recently he had been highly active during previous lockdowns delivering meals to those who were vulnerable or shut in. Is it not ironic and tragic that he himself was then struck down by Covid, and after some weeks in a coma, sadly succumbed to this horrible disease.

His hearse stopped behind the old Town Hall on stilts, and across the road from his beloved restaurant; and the people of Royal Wootton Bassett - led by their Mayor and Deputy Mayor and by the Lord Lieutenant, Sarah Troughton, and me - paid our respects to this much loved local hero.

Then on Friday we will similarly be paying our last respects to that other local hero, Chris Wannell. I will tell you about it next week. Both Enam and Chris were pillars of the community, and without breaching any protocols or confidences I can now let you know that I was hopeful that both would soon have been recipients of some national honour to mark their huge commitment to local people. It is a shame that it could not have been before they were so sadly taken from us, but it may be of some little comfort for their families and friends to know that the Nation was slowly moving towards some suitable honour for them. We will remember them, and we will honour them both in our memories.

Who cannot welcome the glimpse of the end of this nightmare which the Prime Minister’s Road Map offers us. I was given my ‘jab’ by Dr Sanjeev Popli at the outstanding Yatton Keynell GP’s surgery last week joining so many thousands of my constituents. Its looks as if all age groups will be done before the summer; and that as a result of that and of the sharp reductions in infection, hospitalisations and deaths, we really can start to look forward to a gradual lifting of the unwelcome restrictions on our lives. It cannot come too soon, although we must not rush it. Schools are back next week, and then step by step we can start to move towards some kind of ‘normality’ on 21 June. (Perhaps sooner if vaccinations and pandemic figures keep moving in the right direction.)

So as we mark the passing of two dear friends and pillars of the community in Royal Wootton Bassett, we must also do what they would have wanted us to do - to focus our minds not on the past but on the future. Both Chris and Enam were optimistic, cheerful people working for the future of their community. And so must we all.

Thursday 18 February 2021 Weekly Column

We are all longing for ‘life to get back to normal…’ We’ve had enough of lockdown, shops closed, events cancelled, isolation, boredom. We think back to how it was before Covid and can’t wait to recreate our old lives. It’s perfectly natural - we have all been though a tough time; many of us are still in it.  We long for the ‘good old ways of the good old days.’  I have been using up part of my Covid inertia watching ‘Foyle’s War’. There’s just something about it - the old

Wednesday 10 February 2021 Weekly Column

The shock and sadness and bereavement when someone dies can sometimes risk blotting out all that was so good about their lives. So it is with my dear friend, Chris Wannell of Royal Wootton Bassett who died on Monday.

The words ‘Wannell’, ‘Wootton Bassett’ and ‘Fire Brigade’ are so intertwined as to be inseparable (despite the fact that Chris was from Chippenham by birth.)

There is almost no aspect of the town of Royal Wootton Bassett with which he - and his dear family,

Tuesday 9 February 2021 Latest News

I am delighted to invite you to a webinar for businesses in the local area offering information about how you can grow your business by finding new international customers as well as advising what support is available to help you export.

During this session, you will receive tailored updates from HMRC and the Department for International Trade on exporting after Brexit. You will hear from panellists including a local exporter, an

Thursday 4 February 2021 Weekly Column

Captain Sir Tom Moore’s was indeed a ‘life well lived.’ It is sad to see him go - of course it is. But then again, his achievements of the last twelve months are in a way a good end to a long and happy life. It was his grit, and his enthusiasm and his dry humour that appealed to us all; and I suspect that he died a very happy man surrounded by his family.

Captain Sir Tom must also have been pleased by the news of the very successful start to the delivery of the vaccine in the UK.


My latest book 'Wiltshire to Westminster' is now available here.

My latest book 'Full English Brexit' is now available online at jamesgray.org/full-english-brexit

01249 446209
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