John Whittingdale officially opened the newly refurbished Cherry Trees Therapy Centre at St Peters Hospital, Maldon.

A plaque was unveiled and a ribbon cut by John to mark the event.

Cherry Trees Therapy Centre, which is managed by North Essex Partnership, has been refurbished and extended – it now has extra space to accommodate services that were previously provided from two separate buildings. It has a new reception with a skylight for improved natural light.

A wide range of services for adults and older adults including community mental health, recovery/reablement and occupational therapy are provided from the centre.

Andrew Geldard, Chief Executive said: “We have invested into transforming this centre into a fantastic place for our service users. Over 95% of our patients are treated in the community and we have brought Cherry Trees into the 21st century with modern design and facilities that is good for our service users.”

John is pictured with Chris Paveley, Chairman and Andrew Geldard, Chief Executive.

John Whittingdale presented a certificate to Thomas Gaynham, a pupil at the Priory Primary School, Bicknacre, to mark his success in the Royal Mail Design a Christmas Stamp Competition. The competition received entries from children aged 4-11 years-old from across the UK in response to the question, ‘What does the Christmas season mean to you? Thomas aged 5, was one of 24 national runners up in the competition which attracted 240,000 entries. As a result of his success, Thomas won £500 as did the Priory School.

John is pictured with Thomas and Ms Rachael Plunkett, Headteacher

John Whittingdale was delighted to present Jhual Ahmed the certificate marking the Maldon Tandoori being Highly Commended in this year’s Tiffin Cup competition. The Tiffin Cup is an annual British competition run by the Tiffin Club to find the best South Asian restaurant in the United Kingdom. Nominees are selected by their constituency and then put forward by their local MP. This is the second year running that the Maldon Tandoori has been highly commended. The Maldon Tandoori has also won both the Essex Tourism and Hospitality Award for best ethnic restaurant 2013 as well as a TripAdvisor Certificate for Excellence 2013 to add to its 2012 awards.

John Whittingdale said: “I warmly congratulate Jhual Ahmed and all at the Maldon Tandoori on being highly commended in the Tiffin Cup competition once again. As a regular customer, I can vouch for the high quality of the cuisine at the restaurant and this recognition is thoroughly deserved.”

John Whittingdale is pictured at the House of Commons with Jhual Ahmed and with Ian Jones, Chairman of the Maldon Conservative Association.

John Whittingdale opened a new affordable housing development at Everest Way, Heybridge. The development by Colne Housing consists of 30 properties built on 1.5 acres of farmland at at the end of Everest Way. Colne currently owns 187 units within the Everest Way estate. The project was supported by £70,000 capital grant from the Homes and Communities fund. In addition to this, Colne provided £2.5 million to deliver the 30 new homes. The properties are a mixture of one and two bedroom flats and two and three bedroom houses.

John Whittingdale said:

“I am very much aware of the severe shortage of social housing in the Maldon District which is trapping many families in inadequate accommodation. I am delighted to be able to open this impressive housing development which will help meet that demand. I congratulate Colne Housing and Maldon District Council on this project and hope that all those fortunate enough to be housed there will be very happy in their new homes”

John is pictured with Mark Powell Davies, Chief Executive of Colne, Cllr David Williams, Chairman of Maldon District Council, and Cllr Tim Young, Chairman of Colne.

John Whittingdale attended the Morning Assembly at All Saints School, Maldon, in order to present them with the Platinum Sing Up Award.

Sing Up aims to put Singing at the heart of every Primary School and is a resource for schools that encourages excellent singing to support all areas of the curriculum. Singing improves learning, confidence, health and social development. It has the power to change lives and help to build stronger communities. Sing Up's mission is to ensure this happens by providing schools with excellent musical resources and workforce development opportunities, supported by a network of expert music education providers.

All Saints Primary School in Maldon is the first Essex school to be given a platinum award from Sing Up. John is photographed with pupils form All Saints School and former pupil, Charlotte Hume, who also sang one of her own songs at the presentation assembly.