Bedfordshire is benefiting from the combination of an altruistic spirit combined with entrepreneurial flair.
Lance Haggarth came to see me last year with an idea. Lots of people do that, seek the support of the local MP, and I have to say that sadly, not many get to the point they had hoped to and, for various reasons, the best laid plans and optimistic schemes, fall on the way.
Not so with Lance. He is a father of sons who knows how hard it is for some kids to get involved with sport, either at school or in teams, simply because they don't have access to expensive kit. There are boys who can't play football at school because of the prohibitive cost of new boots. As any parent knows, boots on growing boys or girls don't last very long as they grow so incredibly fast.
Lance had an idea to approach teams, suppliers and just about anyone involved with sport in order to assist him in setting up a used/charity store chain for sports clothes.
The photograph is of Lance and I at the Bedford store and I have to say, every single thing in the shop looked brand new, except for the price; boots for a fiver, football shirts for a few pounds and all manner of sports equipment, including golf clubs.
People now know where the shop is and take unwanted outgrown sports kit to be re-cycled and re-used or worn by children and adults who otherwise wouldn't have access to kit or equipment at all.
I was impressed that Everton FC had been helpful and supportive but disappointed that Manchester United and Liverpool FC just aren't getting involved. Shame on them.
Lance is looking to expand his chain of Sports Traider stores and I will continue to give him all the help and support I can. He has recently had talks with Westminster Council and the feedback from them was very positive. Well done Lance!