FOR the last few weeks, the Commons has been in recess. This is the chance for MPs, without the pressure of urgent votes in the lobbies, to return to their constituencies and spend time. It’s my favourite part of the parliamentary year.

We live in an extraordinarily beautiful constituency and it is home to some truly remarkable people. This summer I’ve met quite a few of them.

I was a wee bit apprehensive about visiting the PADS dog charity. Kennels for abandoned animals can be grim places with rows of cruelly treated pets staring dolefully out, or barking excitedly, begging visitors for a second chance at a happier life.

For the old, the infirm and the ugly that second chance often doesn’t come and their stay ends tragically.

I needn’t have worried. PADS is a joyful place. A community of carers look after a wee community of dogs with a lifetime of stories.

There are rescued and then abandoned street dogs from Romania, dogs who have outlived their owners, some whose owners have become too frail to care for them, and yes, sadly, victims of ill treatment.

None are ever put down. All are loved and groomed, fed well and exercised. I fell for a dignified chihuahua with a direct and unflinching gaze.

My team and I loved our visit to Hawkill Community Centre in Alloa – presided over with care and passion by the wonderful Sandra Clements.

Hawkill, on the day we visited, was filled with the sounds of children playing and laughing. The cafe was buzzing. And the food bank – that scourge of our age – offers healthy homemade food and looks like a wee supermarket.

Sandra and her team are the very heartbeat of our community.

Another memorable trip was to visit another remarkable woman. Kate Sainsbury and her son Louis hosted me at Louis’ new home, the Appletree Community.

Louis contracted meningitis as a baby and has lived with a severe mental impairment ever since. His mother is his staunchest advocate, and a ferocious champion for the rights of people living with disabilities.

Kate’s dream has always been to provide him with his own place and as much independence as possible. A financial settlement from the hospital where he was born has allowed her to fulfil her dream.

Appletree is an oasis. Set round a beautifully planted courtyard it has been adapted from existing old stone farm buildings. Colours are Louis’ carefully chosen choice. There are living quarters for a care team.

And as Kate told me when I visited them for birthday cake, jelly and ice cream she hopes that others will join Louis and come to live in and share this special place.

Thanks to his tenacious and fearless Mum, Louis now has a home for the rest of his life. I left with a bit of a lump in my throat.

What a privilege it is to be your MP and meet such people.