November is traditionally seen as a month of looking back. We remember those who fought for us, we remember those who died for us, we remember those who defended this country. We celebrate the deeds of our brave veterans.
This year, however, I was unusually given the opportunity to look forwards too. I was very privileged, along with Mayor Faye Evans, to be invited to the new Southend Remembrance installation at the Southend Schools Festival, a National Lottery funded project involving over 5000 children from 25 local schools.
The Festival has connected with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion in order to teach students about the First World War, and Southend's role. Lessons combined art, history and local memories of older volunteers to connect with what they were learning about.
I was touched by this unique idea of remembrance, with the children learning how we have remembered out war dead, as well as exploring how and why they would continue to do so.
I was impressed by the effort and detail students out into creating Poppies for the Southend Remembrance Installation which has been up. Artist Mary Lister worked with the children to make their Poppies, and the final pieces of art were assembled in the form of a lake and a waterfall on Southend Seafront.
Mary said that she was touched to "see so many people coming together to create something meaningful and beautiful".
I would encourage schools who did not take part in this project to do so next year.
Throughout the weekend like many of you, I attended Remembrance Day Services in Southend and Shoebury and my thoughts and prayers over the weekend were with those by whose sacrifice we are still here.