Merry Christmas


I’ve been invited to several Christmas events this year, but one in particular has stood out. Last Friday I joined representatives of West Midlands Police to present a special award to Billie Jayne Fulford, a year 11 student at St Thomas Aquinas school in Kings Norton.

Until this year, the award has been named after Pat Manion, a former Deputy Head at the school who is remembered for supporting students in challenging circumstances.

For the past few years, Billie has battled cancer, undergoing both surgery and repeated chemotherapy. Seeing the reaction in the packed school hall when she got her award, you could tell how special Billie is to so many people.

It’s not only the way she carried on and got her GCSEs in incredibly challenging circumstances. People say it’s her continuing courage, motivation, enthusiasm and her ever present smile that are such an inspiration to everyone who knows her.

It’s an inspiration that will last. In future, the award she received will be known as the Billie Jayne Fulford award.

It was great to meet Billie. And I was honoured to be there on such a special day for her and for St Thomas Aquinas School as a whole.

So in wishing all constituents a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year, I also want to say a special Happy Christmas to Billie Jane Fulford.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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