SO many have been paying their respects to Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Family on the passing of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh; and so many people I talk to have been sharing their memories of brushes with this extraordinary figure who dedicated his life to public service.

Across the constituency, thousands of young people have taken part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme and many will openly say that it was a game changer in their lives in terms of helping to build confidence, reveal strengths they never knew they had and kindling a love of the great outdoors.

As someone devoted to environmental issues for the greater part of my life, and now so proud to be the Environment Minister, I would like to pay particular tribute and give thanks for HRH’s vital work and contribution as an early environmentalist and conservationist, seen especially through his work as President of WWF.

HRH was acutely aware of the impact of humans on the natural world and the importance of protecting and enhancing it for future generations.

I was not able to speak in Parliament on Monday during the special debate in honour of HRH but have sent my own message for an e-book of condolences from Parliament.

If you would like to send condolences of your own this can be done via the Royal website.

In more positive news, it has been uplifting to see shops, gyms, hairdressers, pubs, and restaurants re-open this week.

I can honestly say I am really looking forward to a haircut.

Good news too that the vaccination roll-out reached its target of offering a vaccine to all those in the top nine priority groups this week.

More than 40 million vaccine doses have been delivered across the UK.

Over 45’s can now book an appointment; and do come forward for a second dose when it’s your turn if you have had your first.

The Moderna vaccine is now being rolled out and for the 18-29 age group, it provides another alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine, in line with updated MHRA guidance last week.

Finally, do remember the mantra of hands, face, space and fresh air as the vaccine roll-out continues.

MP for Taunton Deane