I’ve been privileged to spend time as a volunteer at the mass vaccination centre in Builth Wells. Despite my rather glaring High Visibility Vest, I don’t think many people have recognised me – hidden behind a mask and a woolly hat.
But I’ve been able to see hundreds of Brecon and Radnorshire residents going in for the vaccinations and being perfectly truthful, I have wiped away more than one tear.
To see many elderly and some infirm individuals making the effort to come out in the cold to do their part and get their jab is the biggest lift for the soul.
One gentleman came suited and booted, looking incredibly smart as he told me it was the first time he had left his home since March. Another lady was thrilled to be ‘having a day out’.
Part of my role – organised superbly by Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations is to point people in the right direction. But it’s the ladies and gentlemen of the Royal Air Force who are giving us our marching instructions, quite literally.
And as I watch these superb military personnel – many of whom are professional musicians in the RAF Band – I am reminded just how grateful I am to be a part of the United Kingdom.
I will never claim that the UK’s response to the Coronavirus has been perfect.
But it is certainly incredibly more effective than if we had been four independent nations – as some would wish us to be.
Not only might we not have been able to draw upon the support of military personnel based in Lincolnshire, we might not be able to access a vaccine in the first place.
And nor would the rest of the United Kingdom; because while the University of Oxford quite rightly takes the credit for its development, a lab in Wrexham is directly responsible it’s manufacturing.
Meaning that, every individual in the United Kingdom relies on Wockhardt Ltd in North East Wales for the way out of this terrible pandemic.
We talk about a strong Union but we must never forget to strive for a strong and equal Union; one where the talents of all it’s people are recognised.
I know many of you have voiced your frustrations to me in recent weeks about some of the comments by the First Minister around the rollout of the vaccine.
But I’m afraid this is another example of Wales being held back by a Labour Government. There is a huge opportunity to change this later in the year when we all go to the polls and elect a new Senedd. We will have a very clear choice – more of the same arguing and one-upmanship, leading to even greater isolation or the chance to deliver a thriving Union of four equal, dynamic countries.
Brecon and Radnorshire MP Fay Jones