This week we lost one of the few remaining Battle of Britain pilots.

Maurice Mounsdon died at the grand old age of 101. He was one of 3,000 pilots who defended our skies and our country from the German Luftwaffe in 1940.

His bravery and that of his fellow airmen was praised by Winston Churchill and many of Mr Mounsdon’s comrades paid the ultimate sacrifice in dying to preserve our freedom.

Which is why we all owe Mr Mounsdon and all our fallen servicemen a debt of gratitude on today of all days for it is their sacrifice which preserved our right to democracy.

It is therefore incredibly important that we all exercise that right to vote, for whatever party we choose, so everyone has a say on the country’s future.

Here in Swindon, our Elections team has been busy behind the scenes preparing for today.

Normally there is a much longer lead-in time, so to get everything organised in such a tight timeframe has been a big effort from all involved.

With an election so close to Christmas, firming up logistical arrangements was a challenge, especially with all the festive parties at this time of year.

But we have been very fortunate that only two polling stations were unavailable which has made our job a lot easier.

One venue that was not available today was our usual counting venue at the Oasis Leisure Centre, but we managed to secure another prominent Swindon building in the shape of our STEAM Museum instead.

It will be nice to show off our railway heritage to the nation’s media who will be keeping a close eye on what happens in Swindon, as they always do.

On the day, 103 polling stations will be open from 7am this morning until 10pm tonight and there is a handy postcode checker on the Council’s website if you want to double check the location of your polling station at:

We will have around 550 staff on duty to cover the election and 200 of those will be at STEAM to count the votes when the ballot boxes arrive shortly after the polls close.

You will no doubt be able to get all the reaction from the count tonight via the Advertiser’s website, and from the BBC Radio.

But the Council’s Communications team will also be on hand to give you all the latest news from STEAM on the Council’s Twitter (@SwindonCouncil) and Facebook (@SwindonBoroughCouncil) pages.

And, if you are not staying up to watch the results come in, the Swindon results will be posted on the Council’s website as soon as they are announced.

If you are registered to vote, please make your vote count.

And, while you are doing so, please remember those who fought so valiantly to give you the freedom you enjoy today.