Sunday, 20 December 2009

Richard Trevithick

While doing some research into science and innovation this week, I came across a great extract from a letter sent by Richard Trevithick, Cornwall's greatest inventor:

"I have been branded with folly and madness for attempting what the world calls impossibilities, and even from the great engineer, the late Mr. James Watt, who said to an eminent scientific character still living, that I deserved hanging for bringing into use the high-pressure engine. This so far has been my reward from the public; but should this be all, I shall be satisfied by the great secret pleasure and laudable pride that I feel in my own breast from having been the instrument of bringing forward and maturing new principles and new arrangements of boundless value to my country. However much I may be straitened in pecunary circumstances, the great honour of being a useful subject can never be taken from me, which to me far exceeds riches".

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Gwinear Church

This afternoon, Gwinear Church had their carol service. I promised Margaret Stapleton that I would make this one having been unable to make the Harvest Festival in the autumn.

My family have lived in Gwinear for many generations. It is the church where I was christened and my grandfather once helped raise the money to replace the church bells. Today, a cousin of mine is a bell ringer there.

The turnout for the carol service was good this year. There was a packed programme of readings and all the favourite carols were there.

I also had the chance before the service started to have a chat with George Ansell about some of the work he has been leading to encourage the uptake of the Cornish language. George has lived in the parish for as long as I can remember and has long championed the Cornish language through his work on the Cornish Language Board.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

David Willetts visit

I always recommend the sleeper train to Shadow Cabinet members visiting Cornwall. Today we had David Willetts with a very busy schedule and we also needed to get him back to London for a speech tonight.

We kicked off with a briefing at the Knowledge Spa in Truro with a group of staff involved in delivering the development of further and higher education provision in Cornwall and a more detailed look at some of the plans for the medical school and Truro College.

Cornwall has developed some very innovative ideas in further and higher education. The Combined Universties for Cornwall is a partnership that includes Exeter University, the Falmouth School of Arts and Plymouth University. It has been successful at increasing higher education provision in Cornwall and is a model that might be worth replicating elsewhere in the country. David Willetts was keen to learn more about it today.

Next up was a visit to the Tremough Campus for a briefing on the research work being done into marine energy and a tour of the design facilities at the Falmouth School of Arts. We held a marine energy summit at Tremough earlier in the summer and so it was useful to get an update on progress with the Wave Hub project.

We finished the morning with a visit to Cornwall College Camborne where David was able to sit in on a seminar for students on a renewable energy course. They were receiving presentations from and the chance to ask questions of recent graduates who were now in the world of work. Top of their concern was whether they too would be able to get jobs after completing their studies and so sessions like this are incredibly important.

The challenge in the last decade has been getting more people into further and higher education. The challenge now is going to be getting people from study into work and Cornwall College has pioneered a number of new ideas to bring their work closer to the world of business.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Music at Treleigh

The last time I was at Treleigh Church was for the wedding of my cousin. His wife, Debbie, was a teacher at Treleigh School.

I have kept in touch with the work of Searchlight since I met them in Redruth earlier this year and receive their weekly update. Tonight the Searchlight team were giving a performance at Treleigh Church in Redruth along with many others.

The inspiration behind tonight’s event is Kirsty Rowe, a local music tutor who has taught many of those performing. She is raising money for Cornwall Hospice Care. I recognised a couple of the Searchlight team who kicked off the performance. Aaron had been at the first meeting I attended and tonight gave a very impressive performance of “I dreamed a dream” from Les Miserables. Also singing as part of the group tonight was Deanne who, last time I visited, was teaching the younger children in Searchlight about ballet.
There were many performances and all the local schools were involved. Two boys from Hayle School took on the task of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” – a tough challenge but excellently delivered! And there were others, like Sarah, with less natural confidence but who had grown considerably in ability since first approaching Kirsty for singing lessons.

This is one of many Christmas musical events...and tomorrow we have the Christmas lights at Camborne.