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.
What we are witnessing here I think, is a whole community working together to help each other. You are a shining example of what is possible and, I need hardly mention, of what we should continue to strive for when this dreadful virus is over.
I need hardly say that I can well imagine just how much effort and commitment you must have put not only into this very smart and impressive parade, but also above all into your time at Cranwell and I pray that it will stand you in good stead as you now continue into your professional training and transition to front line operations.
In times of war and times of peace, whether seen or unseen, the Armed Forces support and strengthen our nation, just as each one of you Chelsea Pensioners did throughout your careers. I should like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done for us. Ladies and gentlemen, you are a source of inspiration, reassurance and pride to this country, and as a fellow pensioner I salute you all.
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.