Last Saturday, Honiton town centre was bustling. Lots of people had come out into the sunshine to mark Honiton being recognised as a Fairtrade town.

Many of us gathered at St Paul’s Church, given that the community has been recognised for promoting Fairtrade products. What better way to mark this than by eating hearty amounts of Fairtrade cocoa and Fairtrade sugar in a beautifully decorated, delicious Fairtrade cake!

It was great to speak at the event as Honiton’s MP. I heard first-hand of the work that is being done to raise awareness of the importance of Fairtrade – which aims to promote fair pay and better conditions for farmers across the globe.

I was particularly pleased to present certificates to the two primary school children who won poster competitions – one each from Littletown and Honiton Primary Schools. Lots of children turned out and were a credit to their teachers, who have plainly been encouraging the children to think about the world beyond their classroom windows.

There were several activities taking place, including live music, and a range of local Fairtrade produce to try and to buy. Chatting to people inside and outside the Mackarness Hall, it was obvious that people like Ro, Geoff and Richard who organised it had done us all a service – as had former and sitting councillors such as Jake and Phil.

The event showed what we can achieve when we join together to speak up. The Fairtrade steering group has worked hard over the course of the last year to make this idea a reality. The Co-op was represented too – they have a large Fairtrade range and some of their products are more affordable than non-Fairtrade good elsewhere.

Our market towns have always been at the forefront of change. People who live in big cities don’t always wholly understand the ebb and flow of life in small communities like ours. Here, the small locally-owned shops that populate our high streets are more than just services; many of them employ friends of ours and they are part of everyday life.

Companies like Amazon or Google cannot come close to the quality of service we receive from the independent small businesses on our high streets. I am often asking myself how I might avoid travelling to Exeter. Instead, we can do our bit; we can nip down to our nearest high street and pick up that gift closer to home.

Many local businesses rely upon regular custom to keep going, with the owners knowing their regulars. This helps make life in rural towns and villages so warm and friendly - I have yet to have a satisfying conversation with a self-service checkout.