AS of 0001 on Monday, I throw my MP’s hat into the ring and join the other candidates relying on your vote on May 7.

Five exhilarating, challenging and rewarding years have flown past, surpassing all expectations.

The learning curve is long and steep and remains so, although some of the mysteries, antics and intricacies of the Commons are more transparent to me now.

It has been an honour to represent you in one of the great democracies of the world, humbling too.

I would like to thank the Swanage & Wareham Voice for hosting my column.  With a general election only weeks away, it is only proper this privilege is withdrawn.

But it’s been a privilege I have thoroughly enjoyed and with 17 years of journalism behind me the pleasure of writing remains undiminished.

I have, in the main, covered national and international issues. I have not hesitated to speak my mind.

With so much going on in the world, there’s been no shortage of topics to cover.

Often I feel the world has gone mad, common sense has flown out of the window and free speech lies in tatters on the editing floor.

But then along comes a heartwarming story, like the family who were reunited after the tsunami, and one’s faith in humanity is restored.

On that note, I would like to pay tribute to all those who serve our local community, from the NHS, volunteer organisations, emergency services, armed forces, teachers and local charities to those in the church, public sector and of course local politicians of all persuasions.

In the end it’s a team effort and nowhere is this more evident than in South Dorset.