My wife and I have come here today to express our sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the people of Wootton Bassett for their unstinting support to Britain’s Armed Forces.
I know that only an hour or so ago you lined the high-street, for what must have been the 110th occasion, to pay your respects to Cpl Daniel Cooper of 3 Rifles and Rifleman Peter Aldridge of 4 Rifles, who returned home from Afghanistan to their final resting place.
As a father myself, I can only begin to imagine how agonising and devastating it must be for the families of Daniel and Peter - and indeed the families of all those who have lost their loved ones on operations overseas - as they come to terms with their tragic loss. However inadequate they may be, our thoughts and prayers are with them all.
Above all, this country owes these great men and women a great debt of gratitude.
I am quite sure, that on such a desperately sad occasion, when it must seem as though their world has been shattered, the bereaved families and their friends find great comfort and solace knowing that the nation mourns their loss with them.
Your actions have come to symbolise our nation’s grief.
If I may, I would like to take this opportunity to express our profound appreciation for your support; the organisers and administrators from the Town Council, the Royal British Legion and RAF Lyneham, the Cross Keys for providing sustenance to the families during the ceremonies, the shop-keepers for your forbearance and of course the townspeople of Wootton Bassett. On behalf of the entire nation, thank you for being so very special.