MY ministerial brief takes in heritage – as well as arts and tourism – and one of my duties this week has been to be in the House of Commons chamber for yesterday’s debate marking the Centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest of the First World War.

The Centenary of Passchendaele, the infamous Third Battle of Ypres, is a key part of the government’s ongoing four-year programme of events and artworks commemorating the First World War.

Conditions at Passchendaele were so horrific that they define our collective memory of the First World War. The battle lasted from July to November and was the first time poison gas was used in battle on the Western Front, while the battlefield itself is closely associated with thick mud, which clogged equipment and contributed to the heavy casualties.

To mark the centenary, more than 4,000 people from across the UK are following their ancestors’ journey to the Western Front this summer for special ceremonies.

The Government is also encouraging the children and grandchildren of those who were there to share their family memories for posterity and an exclusive new story by the author of War Horse will be performed to mark the anniversary.

I am grateful to Christopher Newbould from Shrewton for sharing his knowledge of that period in history and making me aware of some of the personal stories associated with Passchendaele.

On Friday, my constituency duties are bookended by London commitments – starting with the announcement of the shortlist of candidates to follow in Hull’s footsteps and become UK City of Culture 2021.

I am then dashing back to Salisbury for a meeting on the exciting Wilton Parkway project. The advantages of a rail service to Wilton command wide support in the town and it is vital that all the stakeholders are fully engaged and united in their approach in order to maximise the project’s potential.

Then it is another dash back up to London for another meeting concerning the future of Wilton – this time relating to Our Wilton and the excellent veterans’ centre plans.