While Covid deprived us of so many cultural pleasures – live music, theatre, cinema, art galleries, even being together in the flesh this evening – we have, at least, been able to read. And as long as we can read, we can travel, we can escape, we can explore, we can laugh, we can cry and we can grapple with life’s mysteries.
As our countries begin this new chapter in our long history, let us reaffirm our bond for the years ahead. Let us reflect on all that we have been through together, and all that we have learned. Let us remember all victims of war, tyranny and persecution; those who laid down their lives for the freedoms we cherish, and those who struggle for these freedoms to this day. They inspire us to strive for a better tomorrow – let us make this our common cause.
With the enormity of these opportunities, our science-based and economic systems are vital to finding and scaling the solutions we so desperately need. We have seen in the last decade how quickly sustainable technologies can move if there is a strong market signal and a clear sense of direction. This is absolutely crucial if we are to accelerate the pace.
And now, as we look forward to the next ten years of ASTUTE’s service, please know that, wherever you may be, I will be holding you all in my thoughts and prayers. I am certain that, just as you have always done, you will continue to carry out your duties with the pride that comes of being at the forefront of our Naval prowess.
To all of you, I just wanted to say, on behalf of my wife and myself, that you are so much in our special thoughts at what I can well imagine is a tremendously testing and frustrating time, and that we care deeply for what you are having to go through.
Today, in this hallowed place, and in the presence of all those gathered here, or in their homes, or wherever they may be, let us affirm that they and the surviving veterans are not forgotten. Rather, you are respected, thanked and cherished with all our hearts, and for all time.
The coronavirus may have kept us apart physically, but kindness has surely brought us even closer together. The work of the British Red Cross is a shining example of compassion in action.