BARROW AFC’s promotion has been 48 years in the making which made it all the more satisfying.

Football’s not my game, but even a complete dunce like me knows when something is so richly, and rightly, deserved.

The passion and dedication that Ian and the team have given has been remarkable.

But this has been a collective victory for the fans, board, trust and Barrow as a whole.

Right now, some good news is exactly what we need and the Bluebirds have delivered it in spades.

There was another victory this week as the PM announced that he would back a scheme to support our schools with £1bn to help those who need to catch up.

It is a sad fact that the most disadvantaged children in the UK fall behind their peers over a long summer holiday.

My concern was that the gap which we already have here in Furness would widen further as a result of the coronavirus shut down.

A recent study has shown that over 2m children have done little to no work while schools have been closed due to the pandemic.

It is a sad fact that those most affected have been those from deprived communities, often without access to the technology they’ve needed to keep in touch.

I’m hugely impressed by the selfless work that local teachers have been doing through this crisis, providing lessons, tutoring and structure in a world where that wasn’t always available. But with a lack of classroom teaching, and with parents often juggling childcare and jobs not all children have had the support they needed.

In May I asked the Prime Minister about this directly in Parliament, asking him to consider a ‘catch-up premium’ to help those who have struggled get the support they need and not fall behind. He promised that ‘there was more to come’ and I am delighted that he has delivered.

It would be a sad legacy from coronavirus if some of our children who need the most help were left behind, and I’m delighted that the government has listened to northern voices and stepped up so that doesn’t happen.

I ENJOY long walks that take several days to complete like the Cumbria or West Highland Ways.

I set off with a burst of energy, excited about the days ahead.

Towards the middle, I tend to slow.

But then, as I trot beyond that half-way point, I find a new energy.

It’s entirely in my head of course, but the knowledge that I’ve passed that tipping point, and that every step is one closer to the end, makes it feel as if the remainder of the journey is downhill.

I may be wrong - and I certainly don’t want to jinx it - but it feels as if we have hit that point now with coronavirus.

Around us shops are opening back up, children are returning to school, and people are returning to work.

We have plenty of reason for caution.

The hard work that we’ve all put in has made this possible.

If we suddenly drop our observance of the social distancing and hand washing that has helped arrest the spread of this virus, we might find ourselves going backwards, and we should also remember there are plenty of people still shielding.

But what a wonderful thing it was to get out onto the high street in Barrow and Ulverston this weekend, and to see it buzzing, albeit in a socially distanced way.

Many of our local and independent shops have done a huge amount for our community through this crisis and now is the time to repay them.

We need to shop local and ensure that they are still here for us this time next year.