Ladies and Gentlemen, Having had a certain amount of practice recently, having reached old aged pensionerhood last month in terms of the numbers of cakes I received, it's rather a relief to find this cake is for somebody else altogether!
It is a way of just celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Disasters Emergency Committee because I am one of those people who have admired enormously at a distance the work that has been done for all these years by the now fourteen different charities which form it. I do think this is a wonderful opportunity just to celebrate what has been achieved, also to notice the fact and recognise the fact these organisations work so well in collaboration on the ground in helping to deliver the aid and all the rebuilding elements that are so vital after these disasters. The fact that they do coordinate so well on the ground is hugely encouraging.
Above all else this sort of occasion gives us an opportunity to remark upon the fact that people in this country seem to be some of the most generous people anywhere in the world. It is truly remarkable that so much money is raised so quickly. For instance £72million raised so rapidly for the Philippines disaster fund is truly remarkable. In so many other cases, whether it was the Tsunami in Sri Lanka where over £300million was raised, and so on and so forth. So it is an opportunity just to say an enormous thank you to all those wonderful people in this country who never stop giving, always mind, and like so many of you here today, who are long-term supporters of the DEC and everything it does, so often unseen and unheard. In some cases heard of a little bit by doing some exceptionally dotty things in order to raise the money, which again I couldn’t admire more. Your contribution is truly remarkable.
Of course I think an occasion like this reminds us of the enormous challenges that exist in today's world with accelerating climate change and ever greater extremes when it comes to whether events and disasters, which are also helping to contribute to evermore conflict on the ground over scarce resources and movements of people and so on. It does seem to me that perhaps some of these disasters might be a wake-up call in terms of a need to look at the whole issue in an integrated way.
I just wanted to use this opportunity to congratulate the DEC and all those people in all the different organisations particularly when I think about what is happening in Syria, the work of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is truly remarkable. The fact that so many of their people are working on the ground and are themselves suffering, in goodness knows how many different ways, in a very difficult and challenging situation. Thirty-two of them have been killed. So again this is an opportunity to salute their extraordinary courage and resilience and compassion in the face of such appalling difficulty.
So ladies and gentlemen thank you again for all your remarkable contribution to this Disasters Emergency Committee and I can only hope that in the future it will go from strength to strength because it is the lifeline that I so many people depend on.