FRIDAY night was magical.

Crunching through leaves up the torch lit avenue to the Wellington Monument to join a happy crowd of carollers gathered under the Monument itself for a candle lit sing-along to commemorate 25 years of the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We had something else to celebrate too – the £1 million award from the Libor Fund towards the Wellington Monument Restoration.

The fact that so many people had gathered on a freezing winters’ night at this spot is testament to the place the historic Monument has in people’s hearts.

The same huge turnout was sparked back in June 2015, just after my election, when I persuaded the National Trust to light up the Monument to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo having raised the subject in Parliament.

The spontaneous turnout helped convince the trust to give the restoration of this structure, which commemorates a great war hero and is the tallest three sided obelisk in the world, their backing.

As the MP, I am delighted to have played my part in securing the funding (this specific pot only being available for war memorials) which puts the project in a strong position to attract other funding to reach the £4m goal.

The petition I presented to Parliament, signed by thousands, and the dedicated work of the Monument Champions in raising the project have all been and remain crucial too.

There is much still to do but there will be spins off: in terms of enjoyment, gains for the local economy and the Monument puts Wellington and Taunton Deane firmly on the map as the gateway to the South West.

Never a dull moment as MP another notable event, this weekend was donning 1950’s clothes and sharing a 1950’s style Christmas dinner in Hatchers shop window with the Mayor and the hard-working Reminiscence Learning team to highlight their excellent Archie Dementia Project.

The project, based in Wellington, gets good results and could be a model for others to follow. It’s something I shall be raising in Westminster.

Taunton Deane MP