Francis Maude: Lantern visit a great honour for district

I’m writing this week’s column as I return from a couple of weeks away with my family – a welcome opportunity to recharge my batteries but it meant I missed out on the welcoming of the Paralympic Lantern to Horsham.

What an honour it was for our district to receive the Lantern! I was so pleased I could watch video footage on the County Times’ website.

It was obviously a very cheerful occasion with a real festival-like atmosphere and it was great to see so many smiley faces - local school-children - enjoying the parade and families taking part in sports sessions.

We should all be proud that Britain is hosting the biggest ever Paralympic Games – once again the whole world will be focused on London and we’ll all be cheering on Team GB throughout the 11 days of competition.

There’s been a lot to unite our country this summer – the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympics and now the Paralympics. Happily, our local area is brought together much more regularly with the wonderful calendar of community events which we read so much about within these pages.

This weekend sees the rather wonderful ‘Big Nibble’ kick off the month-long Horsham District Food and Drink Festival.

Both events are only possible because Horsham District Council works hard with local businesses to put on an amazing show.

As local MP, I’m lucky to visit lots of local businesses. I get to go behind the scenes at our local micro-breweries, farm shops, coffee shops, you name it.

Often I’m there to talk about issues that affect businesses locally and nationally, but I always pick up on the passion that makes these, often small, companies, flourish.

The festival is a great opportunity for local people to experience more of what local food and drink producers have to offer and to celebrate the variety on offer to us on our doorsteps.

It’s not all about eating and drinking - there are cooking demonstrations and all sorts of other events – a beer trail, live music, street theatre – plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

The best way to find out what’s being organised is to have a look at the Big Nibble and festival programmes at

You call also get hold of copies in local libraries and businesses or by calling 01403 215264.

So, to conclude, I hope readers enjoy the Big Nibble and the food and drink festival and, of course, the Paralympic Games!

Francis Maude - MP for Horsham