I have been really impressed by two visits this week.
The first was the Polypipe Terrain site in Larkfield. Polypipe are the only major plastic piping systems manufacturer that is British owned and based, with over two-thirds of its £280m turnover generated on home turf. In the UK, Polypipe has different divisions for each market and Polypipe Terrain recently won the above ground soil and waste plastic drainage on each of the five major Olympic projects. They have written orders for the Olympic Stadium, Velodrome and Athletes Village, a verbal order for the Aquatics Centre, and are firmly specified on the Media and International Broadcasting Centres, and expect written orders on these remaining projects. Amazing – and all made in the factory off New Hythe Lane! I got to see the process of a pipe being made from its constituent parts to being wrapped and ready for shipping. Plus I also got to see (and play in) the training centre where you can witness the piping system of a house. I found the near 2 hours I was on site fascinating and with conversation ranging from sustainability through to apprenticeships it was well worth it.
The second visit was to St John Fisher School in Chatham. The school is sited in one of the most deprived wards in Europe and faces enormous challenges as a consequence. However, amongst the many people I met, I had a class with the School Council today. There were two reps from each year group and boy did they surprise me with their questions and knowledge of the big wide world. We talked about Afghanistan, immigration, education, prisons…all sorts. They were informed, opinionated and articulate – and not just the older students, these were the first and second year students too. I actually took a real shine to them and the chair and vice-chair were really cool kids who know already what they want from life. The absolute highlight of the day for me though was when one of the younger girls came up to me after and said “I think I might go into politics now” – it was meeting Michael Howard when I was at school that inspired me to get involved in politics; I don’t know how to describe the warm feeling I have thinking I might have inspired someone from the next generation.