Iain visits “hugely impressive and moving” cancer survival tapestry

Iain Gray MSP has visited the studio of local artist Andrew Crummy in Cockenzie to find out more about the progress of his new Tapestry about Cancer Survival.

Mr Crummy announced his idea for the tapestry last year following his own treatment for cancer. During his treatment and after, he was sketching about his experience, the people he met and the support he received.

At this time, it was suggested to Andrew that he should produce a Cancer Tapestry, depicting the treatment, the science and the care involved. He took the idea and ran with it and work on the tapestry began last month.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Andrew and the many volunteers he has worked with have really put East Lothian at the heart of tapestry making in Scotland over recent years, with several amazing pieces of work being produced here.

“This new Cancer Tapestry is set to be as spectacular as his previous ones. The tapestry will help to tell the story of those who have survived cancer and celebrate the science and care that goes into treating people with the condition. 

“It is a hugely impressive and moving piece of work and it was a privilege to do a little stitching under the guidance of Andrew and his team of volunteers. I commend Andrew on this latest project and look forward to seeing the completed tapestry.”

Anyone interested in participating in the tapestry work should either look for the Cancer Tapestry public group on Facebook or email cancertapestry@gmail.com.

Motion marks county sprint star’s latest award success

Dunbar athletics star Maria Lyle’s latest success in being named the first-ever Evening Times’ Young Scotswoman of the Year has been recognised in a motion at the Scottish Parliament.

The local sprinter’s accolade followed her outstanding success which has seen her become a World and Paralympic medallist and world record holder, as well as adding European gold and a Commonwealth Games silver to her medal collection last year.

Iain Gray MSP, who has tabled the motion, said:

“I first met Maria when she had only just embarked on her athletics career and it’s been a real privilege to follow her growing success since. Her determination and commitment to her sport has been inspirational to many other young people in Scotland. She thoroughly deserves this latest recognition of her efforts and I’m pleased to be able to mark her success in the Scottish Parliament as well.”

The full motion reads as follows:

That the Parliament congratulates the Dunbar athlete and Public Petitions Committee team member, Maria Lyle, on being named the first-ever Evening Times Young Scotswoman of the Year; notes that the award was made in recognition of her outstanding achievements in athletics over recent years, which has seen her become a World and Paralympic medallist and world record holder, as well as adding European gold and a Commonwealth Games silver to her medal collection in 2018; notes that Maria has also become patron of the excellent local charity, East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme, and has been a role model in speaking out about living with cerebral palsy and her own experiences with mental health issues, and commends her on this latest significant achievement.

Hearing how early diagnosis can beat cancer sooner

Iain Gray MSP met Cancer Research UK staff at the Scottish Labour party conference in Dundee last week, to learn about the charity’s priorities for beating cancer sooner in Scotland.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Like everywhere in Scotland, cancer has a huge effect on families in East Lothian, so it has been fantastic to meet with the Cancer Research UK team to hear more about their priorities for diagnosing patients sooner in Scotland.”

Mr Gray heard about Cancer Research UK’s latest campaign, which urges the Scottish Government to address shortages in the diagnostic workforce in Scotland.

The earlier a cancer is diagnosed the more likely it is to be treated successfully. For some of the most common types of cancer, survival is more than three times likely higher when the disease is diagnosed at its earliest stages.

Yet statistics show that more than 18,000 patients in Scotland waited more than the target time of six weeks to receive a diagnostic test in the quarter ending 38 December 2018.*

The report also shows that, during the same quarter, only 78.1% of patients received the tests they needed within six weeks. The target is that no one should be waiting longer than six weeks for a test.

Gordon Matheson, Public Affairs Manager for Scotland at Cancer Research UK, said:

“The NHS is under continued strain with too many patients still waiting too long for tests, some of which could detect cancer. 

“With a welcome focus on screening and early detection of cancer, there’s an urgent need to comprehensively address workforce shortages.

“Much needed investment in this area is beginning to emerge and it’s vital we see a strong emphasis on making sure we have enough staff to meet increasing patient need, and that existing staff are being used to their best potential.”

Iain backs Marie Curie call

Iain Gray MSP has lent his support to help improve the lives of people in Scotland living with terminal illness.

Meeting with representatives from Marie Curie, the terminal illness charity recently, Iain was interested to hear about efforts to ensure that everyone should get the care and support they need at the end of life.

Marie Curie supported over 8,600 people in Scotland last year through their hospices, nursing care and support services. Every five minutes someone dies without the care they need, often missing out on care because they have a condition other than terminal cancer such as organ failure or Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and frailty. In Scotland 1 in 4 people (11,000) are still missing out on palliative care at the end of their lives.

Coinciding with their annual Great Daffodil Appeal in March, Marie Curie is asking people to donate and wear a daffodil pin to show support for people with all terminal illnesses. Every donation and daffodil worn helps Marie Curie provide vital care for people living with a terminal illness and support for their families.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Throughout my time as East Lothian’s MSP I have always supported the work of Marie Curie. I know what a great difference the care and support it provides makes to individuals at the end of their life and their families. I would encourage local people to support Marie Curie and share their experience during the Great Daffodil Appeal.”

Susan Brown, Marie Curie said:

“We believe everyone should get the care and support they need at the end of their life, regardless of their condition. We appreciate the support of Iain to highlight that people are still missing out. We hope people will join in by sharing their story on social media using #StillMissingOut.”

To find out more about the Great Daffodil Appeal, visit mariecurie.org.uk/daffodil or call free on 0800 304 7025. To donate £5 to Marie Curie, text DAFF to 70111

Still time to respond to the Good Food Nation consultation

Iain Gray MSP is urging local residents to respond to the Scottish Government consultation on Good Food Nation legislation.

Due to close on the 29th of March, the consultation seeks public views on what should be included in a new law for Scotland’s food system.

Scottish Labour have called on the Scottish Government to include a statutory right to food in the Good Food Nation bill.

Iain Gray MSP said:  

“Reformation of our food system is long overdue. We advertise Scotland as a nation of food and drink and East Lothian in particular is renowned for its local produce, yet over a third of Scots worry about putting food on the table.

“An ever-increasing number of people continue to be priced out of a decent diet, forced to rely on food banks and suffering from poor nutrition. We undervalue the people who work to produce and process food, the wildlife, natural resources and farm animals that all form part of our food system. This cannot be allowed to continue.

“Scottish Labour believes there should be a statutory right to food which joins up all policies related to food and has the power to measure the government’s success in feeding its people.

“We need to work together to push for change. I urge all of my constituents in East Lothian to respond to the consultation and make their voice known.”

Those wishing to respond to the consultation can do so online by visiting: https://consult.gov.scot/food-and-drink/good-food-nation/ or by writing to:

Good Food Nation,
Scottish Government,
Food and Drink Division,
Saughton House,
Broomhouse Drive,
Edinburgh EH11 3XD

Two groups of Sanderson’s Wynd pupils welcomed to Holyrood

Iain Gray MSP has welcomed two groups of pupils from Sanderson’s Wynd Primary School to the Scottish Parliament.

The school took the P6 pupils from Tranent to Holyrood via the Education Outreach service, which helps organise school visits throughout the year.

The two groups met with Mr Gray during their visits and had the opportunity to ask him some questions about his role and how decisions are made in Parliament.

Speaking after the visit, Iain Gray MSP said:

“It was a pleasure to welcome these two groups of pupils from Sanderson’s Wynd to the Scottish Parliament. They were exceptionally well prepared and had clearly given their questions a great deal of thought.

“I hope that they all enjoyed the visit and that what they have learned at Parliament about our political system will help them with their studies back in school.”

Local firm’s experience highlights importance of apprenticeships

Iain Gray MSP has visited Macmerry-based steel and aluminium structure design and fabrication company, Had Fab, to help mark this year’s Scottish Apprenticeship Week (4-8 March).

The theme for apprenticeship week this year is ‘Skills for the Future’, recognising the importance of investing in the workforce, and that was very much at the heart of Had Fab’s enthusiastic support for apprenticeships.

Working with Skills Development Scotland, which organises the week, Mr Gray visited the firm to hear more about why apprenticeships are so important to its development and to meet some of the seven apprentices currently working at Had Fab.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“Scottish Apprenticeship Week is an important opportunity to showcase the benefits apprenticeships bring to individuals, businesses and the economy. I always support and help promote the week and was very pleased to visit Had Fab and meet some of their apprentices this year.

“As well as meeting five of the firm’s current apprentices, who all had positive things to say about their own apprenticeships, I also met a couple of former apprentices who have moved on to more senior positions within the business.

“Had Fab’s experience is a great example of why investment in apprenticeships can help secure long term benefits for businesses. They have helped to develop some outstanding individuals who are now contributing to the firm’s continuing success.”

Skills Development Scotland Chief Executive Damien Yeates said:

“Work-based learning is providing the skills needed for a successful Scotland. The theme for this year is ‘Skills for the Future’ which recognises the importance of investing in our workforce.

“We want more people and businesses across Scotland to benefit from the growing number of opportunities available in different sectors and workplaces.”


Advice surgeries on 8th March

Please note that Iain will not be at his regular advice surgeries in Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar on the afternoon of Friday 8th March as he will be attending the Scottish Labour Party Conference.

Two of his staff members will attend these locations to assist constituents, however if you prefer you can drop Iain an email at iain.gray.msp@parliament.scot or call his constituency office on 01620 822711.

Brewery’s 300th anniversary celebrated at Holyrood

As part of the celebrations marking 300 years of Belhaven Brewery, Iain Gray MSP has hosted a reception at the Scottish Parliament.

Staff from Belhaven set up a bar in the Parliament’s Garden Lobby to enable MSPs and other guests, including the CEO of Greene King, the brewery’s owners, to sample some of its popular beers.

The reception is part of a programme of events and activities throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary, which will include the opening of a £500,000 visitor centre at the brewery.

Speaking after the reception, Iain Gray MSP said:

“I was very pleased to welcome numerous guests, including Greene King’s CEO Rooney Anand, to this celebratory reception in the Scottish Parliament to mark 300 years of Belhaven Brewery.

“Belhaven is an important local employer and an iconic Scottish brand, and it was great to see so many colleagues from all parties there to help mark this significant milestone for Scotland’s oldest working brewery.”

Iain welcomes Longniddry pupils to Parliament

A group of P7 pupils from Longniddry Primary School have been welcomed to the Scottish Parliament by Iain Gray MSP.

The group arranged their trip to Holyrood through Parliament’s Education Outreach service, which arranges for thousands of pupils from across Scotland to visit each year.

Mr Gray met with the pupils during the visit, spoke to them about his role representing the East Lothian constituency in Parliament and answered some of their questions about the way Parliament works.

Iain Gray MSP said:

“It’s always a great pleasure to welcome groups of pupils from East Lothian to Holyrood. These visits have always been regular events, but they seem to have become even more common in recent times, with local schools here on almost weekly basis.

“This is a very positive sign as it demonstrates the enthusiasm in schools to learn about our democracy and the way in which Parliament functions and laws are made. I enjoyed welcoming this latest group from Longniddry and was pleased to answer some of their questions.”