Nevertheless, as you gather virtually, I pray you may be able to take strength from knowing that in your homes or wherever you might be, you are once again joined together by everything that you share.
This renewal of our community spirit has been a silver lining during this dark time. Our communities have been put to a severe test and, true to our best traditions, they have overcome it with determination and imagination, with good sense and with good humour.
Through the years, whether in the hallowed cemeteries of Northern France, or on the beaches of Normandy; or through witnessing our contemporary co-operation in the fields of business, the arts, academia and more – I have frequently been struck by how much our relationship means to us both, and how it makes us more prosperous and more secure. Above all, like so many British people, my wife and I have long had the greatest possible fondness for France and her people.
Thank you, all you young authors who sent in such a wonderful rainbow of stories. Each one of you has brought enthusiasm, originality and a passion for words to this competition. You have made us laugh, you have made us cry and you have made us hope.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we have an unparalleled opportunity to reimagine our future.
We have the chance to determine and shape the world we want, not just for ourselves but for the generations which follow. But this opportunity only exists for a short time and the window is rapidly closing.
As we move from rescue to recovery, therefore, we have a unique, but rapidly shrinking window of opportunity to learn lessons and reset ourselves on a more sustainable path. It is an opportunity we have never had before and may never have again. We must use all the levers we have at our disposal, knowing that each and every one of us has a vital role to play.