I cannot even begin to imagine the dreadful conditions, the suffering, the agony you have all had to endure on your way to arrive here in this country. I pray you have been welcomed.
Stories have power. I very much hope that you have all been able to speak to Fawzia, Ferozan and Alia, to hear them describe what life has been like for female judges in Afghanistan; and to Inna about the heart-breaking conditions in Ukraine, where democracy and freedom are under brutal attack. Their stories, of the humanity behind the headlines, are unbearably moving – but they must, and they do, have the power to stir us to action.
In the aftermath of Sir David’s brutal murder, the people of Southend-on-Sea came together in a remarkable and inspiring way to bring good out of evil. In doing so, they demonstrated a deep truth: that what matters more than any name, whether of a person or a place, is the spirit. Today, Southend becomes a city. As we celebrate and honour that fact, we remember that it is always, and crucially, a community.
It is abundantly clear the Powerlist has become an immensely valuable resource that discovers and catalogues people from Britain's African and African Caribbean communities. These communities have made and continue to make an incredibly positive difference to society as a whole and, in doing so, have built a real community spirit and cohesion.
Indeed, it is fair, I think, to say that it has been when truly tested that the Trust has shown its most outstanding qualities of resilience and commitment to helping people across South Asia. When the pandemic first hit us, the Trust launched an Emergency Appeal to support migrant workers and those most in need across the region. I was delighted to be able to give my own support, together with so many in the diaspora, to help over 150,000 people.
All of you who work in the field of domestic abuse would be the first to say that you look forward to the day when your service is no longer needed. Today, then, we are marking rather than celebrating your fiftieth anniversary. Let us use it as a milestone to galvanise and inspire us all towards a world where women and children can live in safety, free from fear.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let us not be bystanders to injustice or prejudice. After all, surely our personal values are measured by the things we are prepared to ignore. Let us therefore learn from those who bore witness to the horrors of the Holocaust, and all subsequent genocides, and commit ourselves to keeping their stories alive, so that each generation will be ready to tackle hatred in any of its terrible forms.
I know, from personal experience, just how much effort, hard work and commitment you will have put into your time at Dartmouth. I pray that it will stand you in good stead as you now continue into your professional training and transition to front line operations.
Over the decades, you have tackled homophobia, racism, discrimination, modern slavery, alcohol addiction, domestic violence and coercive control. Thanks to the light that you have shone on these, and other painful subjects, millions of people now have a better understanding of them – and have been equipped with the tools to respond effectively when they encounter such issues in their own lives. For 70 years of raising awareness of others’ hidden struggles, we are deeply grateful.
Their ability to sequester carbon, help prevent flooding and soil erosion whilst providing stock control, shelter, green corridors and an abundance of food and protection for wildlife, make our hedgerows as precious a natural asset to our planet as any other I have experienced. And this is without recording their immense historical or cultural value as living history with some thirty different styles of hedgelaying to be seen across Britain.