I just wanted to say that I was particularly keen to host this particular event really to thank you all, and I know its rather inadequately, for your utterly tireless efforts helping those affected by all of these terrible tragedies in Manchester and London and the Grenfell Tower fire. I think these heartbreaking events brought the people of Britain together in a shared grief but also in a shared determination to help those affected. And throughout this time the volunteers and staff of the British Red Cross have been there, literally there, for people in desperate need.
You, ladies and gentlemen, so many of you were there at the front line helping people from the very beginning and I know you will be there to help communities as they start to rebuild together. I also know that this is hugely appreciated by all who have been helped so we owe all of you an immense and continuing debt of gratitude. Now, I have been President of the British Red Cross since 2003 and all I can say is that I was enormously proud to take on on this role because of the real difference all of you make to people at the most difficult and heartbreaking times in their lives, providing practical and emotional support that helps people prepare for, get through and rebuild after whatever ghastly crisis they have been through.
The British Red Cross of course has been responding to emergencies for nearly 150 years and the combined events of this summer produced one of the largest responses in the organisation’s history with 800 trained staff and volunteers giving their time to help people in one terrifying crisis after another. In the room this evening I know we have many volunteers who showed true compassion in helping people coming to terms with these tragedies and whether you provided support at rest centres, hospitals, mortuaries or on the telephone in an airless, windowless rooms in Norwich, you can have no idea of how proud I am, for what it’s worth, of the way you have helped those in crises and I’m sure, ladies and gentlemen, I speak for so many others in this country who feel the same.
Now I know so well from my own visits in the aftermath of the events in London and Manchester that small acts of kindness can make a huge difference at such a tragic time, so I can only offer my heartfelt thanks to those of you who have shown enormous generosity by donating funds, by rallying the public, by shaking a bucket here and there, by organising events or by sorting through donated stock for sale in Red Cross shops. And of course while money can never replace what people have lost, your support will ensure they can get what they need now as they rebuild their lives. None of this would have been possible without the utter dedication of British Red Cross volunteers, staff and supporters so please just know ladies and gentlemen that in my book you are very much part of the not forgotten association, and above all, I’m only too aware that you will continue to keep up your vital work of care and compassion, thank you all very much, thank you.