The Lord-Lieutenant’s New Year Message
We stand at the gate of a New Year, I would first like to congratulate all those in Kent who have received an Award in the Honours List, I hope they will wear their decoration with pride in their achievement.
The Commonwealth now numbers fifty-two Member States which span Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific and are diverse – they are amongst the world’s largest, smallest, richest and poorest countries. Thirty-one of our members are classified as small States – countries with a population size of 1.5 million people or less, and larger Member States that share similar characteristics with them. Great Britain is a microcosm of the Commonwealth with 50% of the population having ancestral or other connections.
This year Britain takes over the chairmanship of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) for the next two years. The Queen will attend the annual Commonwealth Day Service in Westminster Abbey on 12th March accompanied by many members of the Royal Family. In Kent we will celebrate across our Districts by flying the Commonwealth Flag, as we have done for many years. As the CHOGM is being held in London over The Queen’s 92nd Birthday it will be a chance for us all to celebrate the Commonwealth which has grown and developed over The Queen’s long reign during which she has visited most of its members.
The Civic Service is being held in Canterbury Cathedral on 20th March and will have a Commonwealth theme. The Commonwealth Games is being held in Brisbane Australia 4-15 April and our hopes and best wishes for success will go with all Kent Athletes competing.
It is a century since the Great War came to an end at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month when an Armistice took effect and the guns on the Western Front fell silent after four years in which 908,000 servicemen from the UK and the Empire lost their lives and there were 2 million casualties of which 250,000 suffered amputation of limbs. There can hardly be a family in Kent which did not lose at least one of its members. Many of the young women were denied the chance of a happy married life as there were so few young men still standing. The end of the First World War is to be commemorated with a Drumhead Service of Thanksgiving and renewal to be held on 23rd September 2018. Members of the Regular and Reserve Forces will be joined by Cadets Forces, Kent Royal British Legion, Regimental Associations, and representatives of Civilian Organisations which operated on the home front. There will be a March Past after the Service. It will be an all ticketed event and these will be available from early April with a closing date of 31 July.
Armistice Sunday will fall on Sunday 11th November when I expect many of you will wish to attend a service at your church or at your local war memorial, as much to remember the dead as to pray that Kent will never have to fight another war in coming generations.
May I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2018.