As the very proud President of Maggie's, it's an enormous pleasure to welcome you all to Holyrood tonight to celebrate Maggie's 15th birthday. It seems particularly appropriate to hold this celebration in Edinburgh where it all began for Maggie's - and for me.
My first visit to this wonderful charity was here in Edinburgh. It was an inspirational and uplifting experience and I was overwhelmed by the prevailing sense of peace and tranquillity I found there, so when Laura asked me to become its President I accepted with alacrity.
Those of you who have seen these centres for yourself will know what a special service this unique charity provides for both cancer patients and their families. I've been lucky enough to visit Maggie's centres in Dundee, London and Cheltenham and I'm sure - Ladies and Gentlemen - that like myself, you will have found these are truly holistic places.
Indeed I cannot imagine a more welcoming or comforting sanctuary, the light and airy surroundings - a welcome cup of tea - homemade cakes - the excellent advice, counselling and support not to mention the wonderful range of recreational activities on offer. These are qualities which all the Maggie's centres share even while each one is designed to a unique - specification by a different internationally renowned architect.
Maggie’s seems to recruit and attract the very best to be part of its family - and talking of the best - the indomitable Laura Lee has even managed to recruit a Maggie's team in Barcelona, whom I met on my recent visit to Madrid. With her at the helm, and the rest of the marvellous crew, the legacy of Maggie Keswick Jencks will continue to give the support and care to cancer sufferers that they so richly deserve.
Here's to the next 15 years and to 15 more Maggie's centres . . .