I had an online meeting today with Steve Adams and Jo Cooper of the Shropshire Community Foundation. They are overseeing a new award scheme, Shropshire’s Outstanding Community (SOC). I’m on the steering committee and the initiative aims to cast a spotlight on all that is positive about the county and its people.

Communities across Shropshire can put themselves up for recognition by the scheme – and the definition of community is broad, from a town or village to a housing development, street or block of flats.

SOC will celebrate community spirit, the collective effort that adds to the pleasure of living in a place for its people. Taking a pride in your town, street or village’s appearance is part of it but it’s also about good neighbourliness, looking after one another, a community’s sociability and about collective day-to-day attitudes and actions that make life that little bit better for everyone.

It is about celebrating the Shropshire communities that have a strong sense of their own identity and in which their residents have an emotional stake. We want to show off communities that aren’t just places where people reside but that have a heart and soul.

The winning community will receive a plaque for display and £1,000 to be spent on something that will benefit the community. Second and third places will receive a plaque each and £500 and £250 respectively.

Visit www.oustanding.community for details of how to enter.

Tourism is a big part of Shropshire’s economy and promoting it in all its forms is one of my aims for this year. I think it important we make more of Charles Darwin, one of world history’s most important figures, who was born and raised in Shrewsbury. To this end I had a fascinating Zoom call with businessman and philanthropist Glyn Jones, who has bought Darwin’s childhood home, The Mount and has some exciting plans for it. He aims to restore the house and for part of it to be a museum which I think would be a great attraction to visitors from far and wide. I plan to visit The Mount and meet Glyn in person in May.