The lights went out for an hour last week as Britain stopped to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War.
One hundred years ago, fateful decisions were made that led to war and changed the course of history. Almost 10 million men - from here in Morley and across the world - left their families to go into battle, never to return. Many millions more lived to tell the tale but bore the deep scars of their service. Young men from across Britain served alongside soldiers from across the world – from the Indian sub-continent to Africa, from Australia to the Caribbean. They fought valiantly, and with incredible bravery, in unimaginably horrific conditions. Hundreds of thousands of British soldiers gave their lives to protect the freedom that we still enjoy today. It was a conflict that touched every family, affected every community and fundamentally changed the course of history. But as well as the brave soldiers on the front line, there were many millions more who served their country in other ways and deserve our deep gratitude - from the nurses risking their lives on the Western Front to those who played their part on the Home Front. The First World War will, for generations to come, serve as a reminder of the brutality, and in the case of World War 1, the futility, of war. Here in Morley, the town, of course, put on a fantastic series of events over the weekend to commemorate the First World War. From the tram in its spot on Peel Street to the brilliantly recreated army recruitment office, run by the Royal British Legion, as well as stalls from local groups and some fabulous music, Morley marked the occasion brilliantly. So one hundred years after the start of the First World War, it’s important we remember the sacrifice made by those in Morley who laid down their lives for our country.They must never be forgotten.
Tucked away, off Bridge Street in Morley, is a pioneering company that exports its goods across the world. Brandon Medical is an award-winning, medical technology company, exporting medical lighting and high-tech cameras to operating theatres, medical clinics and doctors’ surgeries around the world. From operating theatres in local hospitals down the road at Pinderfields, to facilities half way around the world in Asia and the Middle East, the operating lights and cameras almost certainly came from Brandon Medical. The company’s new facility in Morley has only been open for a few weeks. So when I called in to meet Managing Director, Grahame Hall and his team, it was great to hear about their move to Morley from Middleton and the company’s recent expansion. Brandon Medical’s headquarters on Elmfield Road include a demonstration operating theatre, Intensive Care Unit and GP Surgery all of which showcase their fantastic state-of-the-art equipment. It is a fascinating company. And I was excited to see their research and development team working on new designs and prototypes – world-leading innovation based right here in Morley.Pioneering companies like Brandon Medical are really leading the way. They are creating high quality, high-tech products locally and then exporting them around the world. By providing more support regionally to companies like them we can get more investment and jobs for people in our region. Unfortunately, as businesses tell me regularly, since our regional development agency, Yorkshire Forward was scrapped, it’s been much harder for companies wanting to grow, expand and create jobs in our region. We do now have a Local Enterprise Partnership for our area. But it lacks the teeth and resources to really support the business community in the way we need. And while the national economy is now growing again, I know from speaking to both local businesses as well as residents that things are still difficult for a great many local firms. Brandon Medical are a great example of a company leading the way, creating the high-tech, well paid jobs we need more of. We need to support businesses like this to grow if we’re going to get balanced economic recovery for every region of Britain. That’s why we need a British Investment Bank to help local business grow and expand. So I will continue to champion the case for economic investment in our region so that local companies are able to grow and create the high-quality jobs and growth we need. d of course, the next time you see a medical light in a doctors surgery or hospital remember, it could well be from Morley.