TODAY many of us have the opportunity to vote in a Referendum. The decision we take as a nation is one which will impact millions of lives – here, elsewhere in Europe and beyond – and on generations who are young now.

It is incumbent upon us to make a choice which is not only our own personal feeling or situation, but also what we believe to be right for others too. That’s quite a responsibility because, unlike a General Election, we won’t be able change our minds in five years’ time.

The beginning of July sees the centenary of the start of Battle of the Somme and this month saw the centenary of the Battle of Jutland. The lessons from past conflicts are vital to learn; along with the duty and privilege of remembering those who fought and died to resist oppression and dominance. They cared enough for their children and their children’s children to be prepared to lay down their lives so that others could grow in freedom.

One of the fruits is that we now live in a society where we do indeed have a say about how we are governed, who makes our laws, how the vulnerable should be treated.

Today we have the opportunity to express our personal view about the future of the United Kingdom and its relationship with other nations. Whether we vote ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’, or choose not to vote or simply can’t be bothered, we should never forget that we have these options because we live in a free country.

There are many people spread around the globe in 2016 who have never had the chance to vote on any subject or in any election. The freedoms we enjoy didn’t come to us without a cost. We should value and treasure them.

Mgr Andrew Summersgill

Parish priest of St Stephen’s, Skipton andSt Margaret Clitherow, Threshfield