Last week we attended the University graduations in the historic Cathedral, which has been a seat of learning for centuries. Hundreds of students received their degree there this year. I am proud of the fact that despite the current mood of uncertainty around, our University goes from strength to strength. It is testimony to the ingenuity, entrepreneurship and innovation of the university staff, governors, chancellery and last but certainly not least, the students. Together they make the University a great success, not only in academic terms but also by providing such a rich contribution to life in the city.
Words cannot describe the scenes and emotions I felt on Remembrance Sunday, walking out into a packed Cathedral Square with hundreds lining the High Street to pay their respects at the end of the First World War centenary.
Not only did we remember the British soldiers that died in the First and Second World Wars, but all those who passed away in other conflicts since then. The scenes in Cathedral Square were awe inspiring; the power of the moment was sublime and you could really feel the City united in respect. The March and parade to follow was equally impressive, with the members of our Armed Forces, Cadets, Emergency Services, Scouts and Veterans receiving the salute by the Lord Lieutenant – a fitting way to inspire and remember those that fought for our freedoms.
I am honoured and grateful to have witnessed this momentous event – which according to many has been the best public occasion in recent living memory in this wonderful city of ours.
The beacon lighting ceremony at Fort Royal Park that evening was equally special. We reflected on the valuable and crucial contribution that women made during WW1. A powerful performance by DanceFest left many stunned, as they expressed their feelings and powerful message through dance and music.
As we continue to ride the wave of goodwill and positivity generated last weekend, I pray for peace across the globe and hope that our leaders can use this opportunity to build bridges not walls – and to put aside our differences under the umbrella of love, not hate.