“I SAY a little prayer for you..”

August saw the passing of two formidable talents - the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin and United States Senator John McCain.

Between them they represented a huge cross-section of the human experience from the 1960s to the present day - race, gender, music, war and politics.

The principles and dreams of both were cast early on in that tumultuous social foundry that was the 1960s.

Their outlook may have been unmistakably American but their reach was global.

I had the privilege of hearing John McCain speak at the 2006 Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth. He was exactly as I hoped and expected him to be, an inspiring, thoughtful man, a war hero with a great sense of humour, so important in politics.

He spoke passionately and enthusiastically from a wealth of experience and whether you agreed with him or not, you just got the feeling he would have cut it as President.

John McCain inspired a more gracious, compassionate politics than that which we have become used to. Let the pursuit of those ideals be his legacy.

The purpose of all politicians, wherever they may be, is to speak up for those individuals and groups suffering adversity who need a voice.

During a recent visit to Chepstow Stroke Club I was acutely aware of something that stroke sufferers know only too well.

Adversity means that even performing the simplest task can feel like climbing a mountain.

Those in power can at least make lives a little easier by addressing some of the challenges people face in their day to day lives, such as the ongoing threats to rural bus services or rural banking services (currently a pressing issue in Usk with the loss of the town’s last bank, Barclays).

As some of the most inspiring leaders have shown, changing the world often starts by making a difference in your own corner of it.

Finally, this corner of the world recently said farewell to Eliot Lewis, known to many across Monmouthshire as the former landlord of the Beaufort Hotel, Raglan, who has passed away after a short illness at the age of 45.

Eliot was based at the Beaufort from 2002 to 2015 before moving on to the Greyhound in Tetbury. Like many who knew him I will remember his friendliness and generosity.

Our thoughts are with his family at this time.