Education and army service
I grew up in Nottingham and went to Rushcliffe Comprehensive School. I graduated from Aberystwyth University with a degree in International Politics and Strategic Studies before attending the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. From Sandhurst I was commissioned into The Parachute Regiment and subsequently deployed to Kosovo, Northern Ireland, briefly to Sierra Leone, and on numerous occasions to Iraq and Afghanistan. My service included: Platoon Commander with 1 Para, Aide de Camp to General Sir Mike Jackson, Adjutant of 3 Para, and on promotion to Major I worked as a staff planner in the Permanent Joint Headquarters (Northwood) and then at the Army’s Headquarters (Salisbury). I also served as a Company Commander in the Special Forces Support Group (St Athan).
Elected to Parliament
In January 2011 I became the first person since World War Two to resign my commission in order to contest a Parliamentary by-election. I was elected to Parliament on 3 March 2011, increasing the majority despite the reduced turn out that comes from a by-election. I was subsequently awarded the MBE for my service in the Army, which made me the first serving MP to be decorated for military service in many years.
Working in Westminster
On entering Parliament, I sat on the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee before being made a shadow minister for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. In October 2013 I was appointed as shadow minister for Justice. In June 2015, having been re-elected, again with an increased majority, I was made a shadow minister for foreign affairs. Throughout the last parliament I served as the Labour party’s lead for the 100th anniversary World War One commemorations.
I now serve on the back benches and take an interest in a broad range of issues in Parliament, including: defence and security, international development, child poverty, gender equality, education and skills, cancer, care for the elderly and vulnerable, volunteering, excess winter deaths, culture, heritage, sport and the countryside. I am the lead MP for the Speakers’ Parliamentary Placement Scheme.
Working in Barnsley
In Barnsley, I am a very active constituency MP and have worked hard to develop the profile of Barnsley. This has included working with businesses and stakeholders to support and develop the Barnsley economy – creating jobs for Barnsley people. I also campaign to raise aspiration amongst young people, and to support skills and adult literacy programmes. I am passionate about the town. Shortly after being elected, I launched the 'Proud of Barnsley' campaign. I am a vice-president of Kexborough Cricket Club, an honorary patron of the Barnsley Youth Choir and a member of the Barnsley Harriers.
Family and interests
In my limited spare time, I enjoy reading, running, hill walking, cycling and supporting Barnsley FC – all of which can be hard work at times! In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 I ran the London marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I ran again in 2017 to raise money for Barnsley Hospice. I have previously led mountaineering expeditions in the Himalayas.
I live in Barnsley with my wife and three children and our dog, Pip – a mostly friendly Jack Russell Patterdale terrier cross.