I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak in this debate. Dover and Deal is an area steeped in culture and brimming with entertainment; whether for a day, week or month, or throughout the course of a year, there is so much to see and enjoy in our white cliffs country. Our role as guardian of the nation means that we have been involved in some of the world’s defining events, from the rise of the Roman empire to Nelson’s Deal, key battles in world war two and, more recently, being on the frontline of the exit from the European Union.
As such, our two most iconic pieces of history are Dover castle and the world-famous white cliffs. Dover castle is rightly one of the top attractions in the country, and a few miles on we have Deal castle, Walmer castle, with its eight acres of award-winning gardens, as well as Crabble corn mill, the most complete working example of a Georgian water mill in Europe. The mill is one of the many local ventures to have received financial support from the Government’s cultural recovery fund, a fund that has paid out more than £300,000 in my constituency and has been a lifeline for some of our most loved cultural organisations and heritage sites.
However, Dover and Deal is so much more than its cultural heritage, enviable though that unquestionably is. We are ambitious to make our cultural heritage the foundation stone from which we build our culture and entertainment future, for Dover and Deal are also home to leading galleries, artists, potters and live music venues. It is an area rich in the performing arts, with the Astor theatre, the Dover film festival, the Deal music and arts festival, the showcase annual Deal Marines remembrance concert, the Lighthouse music and arts pub and so much more besides. We are planning for the future, through Dover’s bid for the future high streets fund. This further investment would allow us to bring together varied cultural and creative offerings in Dover with a brand new arts and creative centre.
That brings me to my call for a permanent recognition for Dame Vera Lynn. There may be no bluebirds in Dover, but there will always be Vera Lynn in Dover’s heart and its musical soul. She truly encapsulates the enduring importance of entertainment and the cultural arts. It is only right that her contribution to the arts and the nation is given the recognition it deserves, and I am supporting the important campaign for this lasting legacy to her in the white cliffs country.