Ladies and Gentlemen, can I say how thrilled I am to welcome you all to Clarence House today for the inaugural presentations of The Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, can I say how thrilled I am to welcome you all to Clarence House today for the inaugural presentations of The Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy.

Some people might think, with all the news of global recession and the dreadful impact that recession could have on our world, that celebrating arts philanthropy is like moving the metaphorical deckchairs on the Titanic.

But I believe nothing could be further from the truth. The arts act as a beacon of light in dark times. They are a hallmark of our humanity and a means by which we articulate our suffering and our joy. So to honour people who have tirelessly supported, nourished and encouraged the arts through the good and bad times, is enormously important.

When Colin Tweedy, Chief Executive, of Arts & Business asked me to support the creation of this Medal I was delighted to agree. I was also pleased that the idea immediately received a wide range of support from across the whole country. The Medal is designed to honour arts philanthropy of all kinds nationwide. Arts & Business, of which I am President, has been working to promote philanthropic giving for quite some years now. This Medal aims to inspire future philanthropists, by placing the spotlight on the wonderful work that is already taking place.

Before I present our first honorees with the Medal, I would like to thank everyone who has worked so incredibly hard to make today possible. I am most grateful to my Arts advisory group who had the challenging task of creating a long list from the nominations that Arts & Business had received over the summer. The final selection was made by Joanna Lumley, Monica Mason and Christopher Le Brun, under the Chairmanship of Colin Tweedy. I am delighted also that The Prince's School for Traditional Arts created the Medal, designed by Helen White. It is good to see members of the Prince's Charities working in partnership in this way.

Can I offer my warmest and heartfelt congratulations to our very first recipients, you honour us by your generosity and commitment. We thank you for your tireless work and that by your great examples others will be inspired to follow you.