Diary - a promise delivered

This morning, my wife and I said farewell to Al and Claire Blackman. If you recall, Al, who was better known as Marine A, was jailed for murder after shooting a Taliban insurgent while serving in Afghanistan in 2011. Smelling an injustice, I became part of a team dedicated to getting Al out of jail. Other members of that team were also staying, including Jonathan Goldberg QC and his two highly able aides, Senghin Kong and Jeffrey Israel, Maj Gen Malcolm Hunt and his wife Angela, Lt Col Ewen Southby-Tailyour and his wife Patricia, former Royal Marine Jonathan Davies and Sue Childs, who ran the Twitter campaign. Sadly, author Frederick Forsyth, Daily Mail feature writer Richard Pendlebury and Maj Gen John Holmes could not make it. I promised Al some years ago at the start of our campaign that if we succeeded I would host a dinner at my home. Well, job done, and what a fun reunion it was. Today, Al's appalling experience is behind him, and he has made a new life for himself, with his loyal, devoted and fabulous wife beside him. It was fitting somehow that we dined on the 6th June. Once they'd all departed, I headed to Swanage in pouring rain to meet Ben Adeney, the CEO of the Swanage Pier Trust. I had not been able to attend the formal re-opening of the pier following a year's restoration so went down to see for myself what had been achieved. The costly work is impressive, with the pier back to its full glory. A high sea was running so it was easy to see what a battering it receives, especially if the wind is from the south. Then Ben and I walked back to the shop and cafe which has been painstakenly renovated and looks fabulous. Upstairs, Ben showed me the new radio studio, which goes live in August. A team of volunteers are in training to take on this exciting challenge and I much look forward to their first broadcast.