I have just returned from northern Norway where I have spent four days with the Royal Marines as part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme of which I am a member. The programme is an excellent way to learn more about military life today, and about the roles and capabilities of our Services at an operational level, all of which I believe helps me as your Member of Parliament.

Despite the bitterly cold, sub zero temperatures, it was a truly eye opening experience and it was a real privilege to be able to spend time with some of our Armed Forces.  I saw at first hand a demonstration of survival techniques, and even experienced building a survival shelter and spending the evening in it under cover of branches, brushwood and snow!  The company was good and spirits high as we sat around our smoky campfire for warmth, tucking into a pot mess supper of chicken and vegetables, but I would be the first to admit it felt like a long night!

Returning to the UK the following day the mattress on my bed had rather more appeal than another night on ice-hardened terra firma!

On a more serious note, I learned a lot during my few days with the Royal Marines, and witnessed their total dedication and commitment to duty, as well as their preparedness for action, and the importance of continuous training.  Like all our service personnel they do a tremendous job in keeping us safe, and deserve our continued support and recognition.

That’s why the Military Covenant is so important, as are the many organisations such as the Homes for Heroes Foundation which was recently launched in Parliament – all have a role to play in supporting our brave service men and women. As the wife of a former serving member of HM Royal Navy, I am particularly proud of all our amazing armed forces and their commitment to our defences.