I’m writing this on the train home having spent last night at the Party at the Palace celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Paddington Bear opened and stole the show alongside the Queen as the two paired up in a charming sketch featuring marmalade sandwiches and slap stick humour.
The affection and respect felt for the Queen is universal. She is selfless, hard-working and kind. An example for all of us. The role of a constitutional monarch in a country without a written constitution is created by the incumbent. She has no ‘job description’ and there’s no precedent for what it means to fulfil her role. We’ve all probably found ourselves in situations at work with no obvious plan of action and feeling out of our depth. I can’t imagine what the young Queen felt like 70 years ago taking her first steps as the new monarch. Zoom forward to today and she is respected across the globe and despite recent bereavement and illness, has engaged in as many celebrations as possible. Alongside the amazing performances and light shows, there were a number of images displayed. She chose them and one of the most telling was of her shaking hands and smiling with Martin McGuinness, former IRA and Sin Fein leader. For those too young to know, the IRA killed her cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in a terrorist attack. Quite remarkable.
So, what has this got to do with community? I see many parallels in the behaviours of our most inspirational charity leaders. In many cases, no one asked them to create the organisations they lead, no one gave them a job description or plan. Almost all do their work without fuss and without need for recognition. They share an underlying framework of values that puts other people before self. I’d like to salute the Queen and our charity leaders; our lives would be so much poorer were they not there. I’d also like to share the words of Paddington, “If we’re kind and polite, the world will be alright”, here here Paddington!
Sticking with the theme of kindness, I continue to proudly witness the generosity of Cumbrian’s welcoming refugees into the county. The Foundation’s own Welcome Fund is being called upon to support Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Africa and the Middle East. There are many stories to tell but one that stands out is of one Cumbrian family who having received their Ukrainian refugees learnt that the family’s cat was stuck in Paris. At their personal expense, the Cumbrian hosts drove to Paris and the cat is now safely reunited with its family. According to Cumbria County Council figures, there are currently 244 Syrian and 137 Afghan refugees or asylum seekers in Cumbria, and more than 150 Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country. The Ukrainian figure is higher than this as there are various resettlement schemes taking place, not all of them facilitated by the County Council. However, it is important to note that people coming from both Afghanistan and Syria are living in our county, in small but meaningful numbers, they have fled terror and devastation and like their Ukrainian counterparts need our support too. For more information, please visit: https://cumbriafoundation.enthuse.com/cf/welcome-fund
It is always great to see Cumbrians honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. 10 people have been recognised and in particular, I would like to congratulate Cath Giel, who is a member of the Foundation’s West Cumbria Grants Committee and was awarded an MBE for services to the nuclear industry and the West Cumbrian community. I would also like to congratulate fundholder and member Nigel Wilkinson, managing director of Windermere Lake Cruises, who has been given an MBE for services to tourism and to the economy in Cumbria.