EVERY so often I am invited to attend events that really pull on the heart strings.

The two events and the related issues that I am raising in this month’s column certainly fall into that category.

I joined guests at the launch of the local heritage association in Blackwood library, the event was also marking the centenary of the First World War.

During the event, books that included the names of the fallen from Blackwood, Oakdale and Pontllanfraith were presented to the Association.

The books will be on display across our area over the next year and were produced by Les Jones and Nick Hynes.

We will rightly hear a lot over the coming months about the outbreak of the war and the tremendous impact it had on communities across Wales.

Families deprived of fathers, brothers and husbands and the turmoil that the conflict caused for those back at home.

Seeing these books and the names listed in them really brought this home for me. I would urge all residents to take a look and to learn more about this conflict that so changed our world a hundred years ago.

Just under a week later I attended the parade of the 203 Welsh Field Hospital through Risca. The parade was tremendously well attended with residents lining the streets and I was joined by many colleagues, including the leader of CCBC Harry Andrews, mayor Michael Gray and fellow Assembly Member and Minister for tackling poverty Jeff Cuthbert who represents the neighbouring constituency of Caerphilly.

The parade came to a halt at the towns War Memorial where a wreath was laid.

While all this was taking place my mind drifted back to the event the week before and it really struck me the debt we owe to this new generation of soldiers and medics.

Whilst not in such all-encompassing conflicts as the world War, families and soldiers continue to make huge sacrifices to keep us safe.

I am always grateful to have the opportunity to pay my own respects and am always immensely proud to represent my constituency of Islwyn on such occasions.