Thursday, 26 July 2018

Good Endings Fair: Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Town Council hosts country’s first “Good Endings Fair”

Not everyone gets married, but we all die. So Buckingham Town Council thought it was very worthwhile organising a fair to get people talking more about their plans for their own demise or the death of a loved one.

On 8 September, the Council will be hosting the country’s first ‘Good Endings Fair’ in the town centre Community Centre from 10am until 1pm. All are welcome.

“We have more than a dozen organisations signed up to share their expertise with members of the public” said Town Mayor, Cllr Jon Harvey. “Everyone will have chance to talk about their plans. We know how hard it is when people die without a will for example or when people find they cannot afford a funeral for their loved one. These are all problems that can be solved with a little bit of forethought”

The event is all about making it easier to talk about this difficult subject well in advance of the emotional turmoil which happens when someone close dies. “There are so many more choices than I was aware of” said Amanda Brubaker, Town Council Events Coordinator, “it makes so much sense to think and talk about these ahead of time”.

Beth Heale, Personal Funeral Adviser at The Midcounties Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “We are delighted to be involved in Buckingham’s Good Endings Fair. We recognise that everyone is unique and we all have different preferences and budgets. That is why we believe in providing choice and flexibility when it comes to planning a funeral, including pre-paid plans that can give additional peace of mind. The Good Endings Fair is a great way of giving people further information on all of the options available to them. We’ll be on stand throughout the day and will be happy to answer any questions Buckingham residents may have.”

“Even if just one or two people leave the event better prepared perhaps with a list of people to contact should the worst happen, this fair will have been worth it”, said Cllr Harvey. “This is all part of Buckingham Town Council’s commitment to making the Town an even better place in which to work, study, play, visit and live (and indeed die)!”

There is still space for more providers and services to be represented at the Fair. Please contact Amanda if interested.

For more information on all this event see Buckingham Town council’s web site www.buckingham-tc.gov.uk.

Contact: Amanda Brubaker, Events Co-ordinator, Buckingham Town Council, 01280 816426 or events@buckingham-tc.gov.uk


Editors Notes:

Longer article below from which you might want to use some copy as well.

Most people will be able to recall a time when a close friend or relative died and how difficult it was to make any sensible decisions for a significant while. Some people will know how hard it is to wrestle with deep grief while having to make important decisions about the practical matters connected with someone’s death. Typically, we don’t talk about these matters enough until we have no choice.

Buckingham Town Council has decided that perhaps we can a help a little by arranging a “Good Endings Fair”. The Community Centre will be filled with people and organisations who help to administer arrangements and provide support before and just after someone dies. There will be funeral directors present, naturally. But there will be other people too representing churches, celebrants, solicitors, crematoria, natural burial sites, funeral plan providers, financial and health advisers, grief counsellors and voluntary organisations, among others.

The focus will be on preparing for the end of life, and helping challenge taboos around talking about death & dying. We hope the event will encourage family discussions towards the aim of achieving ‘as good a death’ as possible for everyone.

The Town Council talked to lots of people about the idea before deciding to go ahead with it. Reactions from local residents and businesses, after an initial step back or a raised eyebrow, then quickly turned into very positive and enthusiastic support. Most people, of all ages, recognise it does make sense to do a little forward planning. Afterall, we all die sometime and sadly some people die well ahead of their time.

We know of people who are parents who don’t have a will or a statement about what should happen to their children in case they die. There are many people who worry lots about the cost of funerals. There are others who have strong views about what should happen if they become seriously ill but have never committed these views to paper. And so forth.

So we do hope that lots of local people will come along where they will be given an information folder and the opportunity to meet the various people and organisations present. The Town Council’s ambition is that everyone will leave with a little more understanding of how death and dying can be better prepared for, and more knowledge of some of the choices available.

Buckingham Good Endings Fair:
Saturday 8 September 2018 from 10am to 1pm in the
Buckingham Community Centre

Such wonderful talent in the heart of our town

Last night, Julie and I enjoyed a fabulous, rich and diverse concert put on by the students of the University of Buckingham. They were mainly from the Medical School but they also had some friends from other departments and elsewhere. It was a sumptuous feast of sublime talent and joy. Below are pics of some of the performers together with Richard Lin who was the impresario behind the whole gig. Well done to all involved: a truly delightful evening!

I was invited to say a few words of welcome at the beginning. I said it was a wonderful coincidence that the concert came on the same day as the first meeting of the Pontio Group (see blog post below) as both were about harmony and making the most of the melody of Buckingham. And as it happened, the first piece was a medley including 'Bridge over Troubled Waters". How brilliant was that!

Richard Lin and Valentina Gritsenko (who MC'ed the evening)


The audience joining in with 'Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters'





The Student's Union President sings


Hidden talents of local publican (The Mitre)


The ensemble








Pontio #1

The very first meeting of the Pontio Group was held yesterday, jointly chaired by myself and Professor Susan Edwards from the University of Buckingham. The Pontio Group is the Joint Action Group between Buckingham Town Council and the University of Buckingham. The aims are:
  1. To initiate, coordinate and support actions which harness and blend the various resources of both the town and the university for the benefit of all who live, study, work, play and visit in Buckingham
  2. To build excellent relationships between the civic, academic, commercial and leisure organisations in the town
  3. To work for a future of Buckingham in which all enjoy a life full of ambition, learning, prosperity and well being
I am hugely excited about the future and what this group will achieve for all who spend their time here in Buckingham. Watch this space! 

Why Pontio? Pontio is Welsh for ‘bridge, span or transition’ which was successfully used in Bangor as the name for the joint University and Town arts centre which symbolises their joint working together. By using this name, this will echo the research road trip embarked upon by the Vice Chancellor and Mayor in Spring 2018 to visit the ‘towns and gowns’ of Aberystwyth and Bangor.

Here is the agenda of the first meeting. The minutes will be presented to future meetings of the Town Council and will therefore be available for all to see. 

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Great to Picnic!

Julie and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours at Hamilton House on Saturday as they held their 'Picnic in the Park' event for their residents, friends and families: great tea, cakes and company. What more could one want on sunny Saturday afternoon. Charlotte Fenton, the Recreation and Leisure Coordinator sent me this statement and the pics below. 
Here at Hamilton House, one of our residents grandson has brain cancer and is fundraising for treatment as it isn’t available on the NHS so they have set up a go fund page to raise the funds for his treatment. We decided to show our support by turning our Picnic In The Park event into a fundraiser for the Oli’s Fight.
We had a flute player, singer, magician and a Zumba dance group. We had stall set of food and drink stall, kings and queens children’s fancy dress competition, raffle, tombola, hook the duck, lucky dip, guess how many sweets are in the jar, guess how many balloons are in the mini and a selling stool.
The Town Mayor Jon Harvey also held a presentation for a cheque to Hamilton House that ‘The energy effect fitness studio’ in Buckingham raised for our resident fund and a special gift and thank you to our resident Betty Saving for all the dedication and hard work she puts in to help maintain our garden.
The residents, relatives, team and visitors had lots of fun at the event and managed to raise over £250 for Oli’s Fight.
It is all good stuff! Well done Hamilton House for putting this on and raising so much money.







Sunday, 22 July 2018

Skywatching

As part of the Buckingham Fringe, yesterday afternoon and evening was Camp Out and Astronomy session. I popped over for an hour late afternoon and had a long chat with the team from UK Astronomy and their very varied collection of telescopes. The day was spent looking (safely) at the sun (amazing images of solar flares) and as the evening arrived, I understand the focus shifted to the planets on the horizon and more.

Elsewhere there were bungee races, a bouncy castle, information about the new Stagecoach Buckingham club, a korfball demonstration and some food vans. There was also first aid support on hand too. It was a glorious afternoon with something for everyone. Sadly it was not as well attended as it might have been (although I think numbers picked up as the day wore on) but the Town Council committee will review this event (as indeed all are) and decide what to do. Personally, I hope it is not the last of something like this: I want people to be interested in astronomy. We all need to reach for the stars!





Saturday, 21 July 2018

There was no fix!

I had great fun being the Quizmaster last night at the annual Fringe Family Quiznight in the Community Centre. Four teams were competing:

Team Korf (of local KorfBall fame)


The Three Musketeers


Daisy


Council Calamity


And Council Calamity won by nine points! They promised they had no sight of the answers before the competition. But they did have Katharine - the Town Council Oracle on their team though!

And well done to Cllr Terry Bloomfield who organised this and wrote all the questions & answers! Great time - looking forward to next year.


The quizmaster trying to figure out how to pronounce some of the words in the questions! How ~do~ you pronounce prosciutto?? (Thanks to Lisa O'Donoghue for the pic)


Friday, 20 July 2018

Primary Concern

While I was Buckingham Primary - with the back packing project - I was guided towards joining the local Buckingham Age Concern group and their regular get-together with the school children of the school. And I am so glad I was: what a wonderful event! About 30 older people were serenaded by two choirs and then treated with a short play about leaving school for the bigger secondary school. And there was tea. And there was cake! The children sang and acted beautifully. Later on both groups got together for a chat. What brilliant idea for all concerned.

Here is one of songs that the children sang:


Back packing to the future!

The local Rotary Club has been organising back packs from local school children to send over to children in poorer countries, stuffed full of school equipment and other useful things. The scheme is organised by Mary's Meals. Club President Janis and colleague Margo invited me to the part of the latest bag pick up at Buckingham Primary this afternoon. Here are all the children with the back packs on, before they were all dumped into Janis' car. (Janis is the one facing the camera - the rest of us are turned away). Thanks to Vikki at Buckingham Primary for the pic



Buckingham Royal: Community art and drama

This was the eleventh year of a project initiated by the Town Council to sponsor the two secondary schools coming together for a joint art and drama project. I have been to many of these over the years and last night's performance was no exception to the usual: it was powerful, creative, insightful and cohesive. The art on display was equally poignant and a feast for the eyes and mind.

The drama featured four vignettes on the subject of 'community'. The first focused on the impact of smart phones on building (and eroding) a sense of community in young people. The next looked at how the world would be different if there were no sport, and how that would affect life and community relations. The third one looked into in and out crowds, discrimination and bullying. And the last (or was it the third!) explored how major calamities (such as the Aberfan disaster in 1966) bring people together. Given that these 40 or so young people only had about 10 (very hot) hours in which to assemble each performance, these were amazing, moving and sometimes funny shows. Thank you!

I would of course prefer to show you pics of the smiling young people from both schools involved in each of these sets, but I cannot. So you will have to imagine the 'Buckingham Royal' (as they called themselves) drama group in your imagination or look at the Advertiser story for one peek. But also here is one from the RLS twitter feed.


The two drama teachers: Clare Checkley (TBS) and Rachel Stevens (RLS) did a brilliant job guiding the students through this. Well done to them too!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Matilda!

I am struggling to put into words just how amazing, impressive and moving was the performance of Matilda by the children of George Grenville School yesterday evening. Julie and I were just blown away by the superlative acting, the singing, the dancing from every single student. All the main parts were delivered with subtly, confidence and depth: far, far more that I was ignorantly expecting from Year Six actors. And the Y3, Y4 and Y5 ensemble were on point all the time throughout the performance too. Stunning! This was a tour de force! I feel so fortunate that as Mayor & Mayoress we get to be invited to such events.

So may I congratulate and celebrate in the strongest possible ways - all the students and all the teachers/staff who helped make this show possible. And a special thanks to the Royal Shakespeare Company who assisted and guided the staff in helping the children shape and deliver this production. You are all shining stars! And who knows maybe film and stage stars of the future. But whether or not that happens, know this: you created a magnificent musical that I will never forget. Thank you! Thank you, thank you, thank you!





Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Building Community: new Headteacher

Being a good headteacher of a large secondary school requires a number of important qualities and I saw these in abundance when I met the new Head of The Buckingham School on Tuesday morning. Andy McGinnes is brimming with an infectious and inspirational vision of his school in the future. Put simply, Andy wants the school to become the community school of choice for every young person and parent/carer in the locality. This means, he knows, that there is much work to do to build on his predecessor's achievements and create a school in which even more children get even better results. He also wants the school to become a place that all students will grow to become great citizens and whole people.

And Andy struck me as the person who will make this happen: he has determination, authenticity and leadership to do so. He is very keen to reduce the churn of teachers in the school so that many more stay longer and build their understanding of the area and the children who come to the school. Andy knows that there is a already a great team of teachers, assistants and administrators in the school and he is committed to making that team even stronger. He intends to reboot and boost the house system in the school and deploy it to add more fun, positive rivalry and links between younger and older school students - and their teachers.

I am watching with interest as the school develops even further over the next few years with his leadership.


Tuesday, 17 July 2018

New Rotary President

I was fortunate yesterday to be at the first meeting presided over by the Rotary Club's new President: Janis Harding. Congratulations to Janis! It was good to see everybody including Roy who coincidentally overlapped with Dr Guttmann at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. Roy spent most of his surgical career helping people with spinal injuries and back problems. Funny that I had only referenced Dr Guttmann a couple of hours earlier at the opening of the Lace Hill ramp.

Anyway, here is Janis and me just after I gave them the speech below on what I have learnt from being Mayor (so far)... (thanks to Lyndsey Fealey for the pic)


President Janis Harding and all, thank you for inviting me here today.

I promised I would give you a short speech on what I have learnt from being Mayor so far. I am now 3 months into my second year. And it’s been a roller coaster of events and experiences that I have been on! I have been to around 200 places in my role as Mayor so I have been pretty busy.

But what have I learnt? Let me think…

People like Mayors! 

The office has a special place in most people’s hearts and I have been welcomed so warmly by so many people. People are charmed by the chain of office and link it shows to the past, stretching back to many previous people and past times. There is a sense of historic continuity that I think people feel good to be connected to. We live in very changeable and uncertain times. I think having a Mayor to hold on to (not literally I might add) provides a fulcrum around which the local world can turn. I emphasise here: this is about the office not me as an individual.

What goes around comes around! 

I have very deliberately put myself out there as Mayor, using the power of social media to connect with people. I have tried to make myself as accessible as possible. This has meant, I think, that people have felt able to contact me about town matters and invite me to events that they might not otherwise have done. Whilst I have been proud the wear the chain and invoke a little pomp when appropriate, I have not let it get in the way of being in touch with people, and engaging in lots of conversations. I hope I have learnt about balance between formality and informality in this respect 

You can never say thank you enough. 

As I have said on many occasions when people ask me if it is hard being Mayor… that is just fabulous to be in a position to say thank you to people. In so many diverse ways, hundreds of local people are working selflessly for others, often in ways that nobody really sees or acknowledges. Being Mayor has meant I have often had the chance to meet some of these people and just say thanks to them for what they do. And people appreciate that. I like that they like it too! And so although I kind of knew this before, it has left a lasting imprint on me and I intend to say thank you lots more in the future than I ever did in my past. 

It hasn’t all been easy! 

I have a theory as to why monogamy is far more popular than polygamy and it boils down to it being the case that one person is about the maximum number of adults anyone can get on with for a decent length of time! There are seventeen town councillors and we spend a fair amount of time together around the council chamber table. People might think we fall out about political matters but generally that is not the case - it gets more personal than that. I won’t go into details here but certainly I have learnt this year that chairing a council (part of the Mayoral job) has drawn on every sinew of my leadership and facilitation skills. And my second year is not yet over. It has been my job to uphold and role model the seven Nolan principles of public life which are: Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty, and Leadership. And I have learnt that wishing everyone else would do the same is not always the best solution! But I am hoping that we will soon be through all the turbulence.

The treasures of Buckingham are in the social as well as physical spaces. 

A couple of years ago we produced a small leaflet called the Hidden Treasures of Buckingham: you can download it from the town council website. It lists the special places in the town that many people might overlook. What I have learnt since being Mayor, is that many of the treasures are in social spaces not just physical ones. There are networks within networks connected to other groups and networks. Whilst to the outsider this might appear cliquey, what I have learnt is that the vast number of these networks are entirely open and welcoming to new members and supporters. You just have to knock on the door as it were. 

There are some people who just like to criticise.

One of the more frustrating elements of being a public figure is that I get to hear quite a lot of people expecting ‘the council’ to sort everything out and/or just criticising the current state of affairs, or just moaning. But I have met enough people during the last 15 months to know that there are many who roll up their sleeves and take responsibility and make things happen. But I take on board what people say while always looking for ways to encourage more people to get involved in being part of the solution. Sometimes people just need a nudge… Only last week I was chatting with a school governor who explained to me that his governing body was short of a couple of people. I said perhaps they could put together a job advert and post this on social media… someone out there might then respond. So I have learnt this year, more than ever, don’t moan - act! 

Most people are not cynical, disengaged and despairing.

Admittedly it is a not a random mix of people I meet as mayor. But I do know that I have met many many people thoroughly committed to making changes happen and doing their bit for others in so many ways. Whilst it is not difficult to say ‘mammamiya’ in response to events happening nationally and internationally… locally I see a community alive with dynamic thinking people. And it is great to be a part of such a vibrant community! 

Mayoral themes work.

I set my theme this year as being all about imagination. I concluded that my theme of last year (ambition) needed imagination to complement it. So I have been looking for all the ways I can to encourage, praise and celebrate efforts by people to use their imagination and/or inspire others to do so. And it is going really well! It has been good to have a theme to focus my thoughts and actions on, and shape discussions with people about the future. And it seems to me that the ‘Imagination Quotient’ - the ImQ as I call it - of Buckingham is high and going even higher! 

So I have learnt lots and I am still learning. And I am learning how to write speeches more quickly too!! 

Monday, 16 July 2018

Finally!! We have a ramp (or steps on smooth incline)!

At long last, the Town Council has had the collective satisfaction in opening the new ramp at the entrance to Lace Hill. I did the honours this morning and cut the ribbon - ably held at one end by Cllr Mike Smith - and declared the pathway officially open. I won't bore you with the twists and turns that we have had to take to get us to this point. But having inspected the work in detail a few hours ago, I fail to see what the fuss was all about. This should have been done many, many moons ago! But hey, it is now all water under the bridge. My only sadness is that Mr Jim Jones, the older gentleman who loved to amble over to Tesco for a coffee, newspaper and a chat, did not live to see this ramp completed (which would have made his life a lot smoother). Cllr Robin Stuchbury brought a bottle of Jim Beam in his memory this morning, and many of us a small snifter. Joëlle Jones, his daughter-in-law said a few words in his memory and thanked the Town Council and the Town Clerk for the all efforts in getting this done.

Here are some pics taken by Robin with the speech I gave below as well.




Joëlle & I before she gave her speech


It gives me the greatest of pleasure to be part of this ceremony to officially open the new Cotton End Ramp or “steps on a smooth incline” as I think we ought to call this innovative entrance to Lace Hill. 

As we all know, Aylesbury Vale is proud to be the home of the Paralympics. The games began in Stoke Mandeville Hospital 70 years ago under the leadership of Dr. Ludwig Guttmann. Dr Guttman, a Jewish doctor, had fled Nazi Germany just before the start of the Second World War and made his home just down the road from here. The rest is history as they say.

One of the objectives of the Paralympic Games is “To act as catalyst that stimulates social development and leaves a positive long-term legacy that benefits communities in the host country and across the world.” 

So it is wonderful to see a visible manifestation of this objective in the shape of this set of steps on a smooth incline. Notably, this has been funded by the New Homes Bonus pot of money which is managed by Aylesbury Vale District Council. Thank you to them for the funding. 

Now, at last, people with all different kinds of transport and mobility will be able to easily access this wonderful housing estate here on Lace Hill. 

I say at last because this has been something of a ‘process’ to get to this point. The Town Council has been battling to get this matter resolved for many years - in particular by fellow Town Councillors Robin Stuchbury and Christine Strain-Clark. 

And we have been ably supported in all this by our Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Wayman. Chris is sadly leaving us very soon but we should all acknowledge that some of his sweat, blood and tears are woven into the very fabric of this structure.

And thank you to all who have been a part of this journey especially Mr Jim Jones, whose stoicism and politeness are qualities we will all always remember him for. 

Perhaps Cotton End should be renamed Cotton Beginning because these new steps on a smooth incline represent a new way of accessing Lace Hill.

So, let us all celebrate and open this darned cotton pickin’ ramp!! 

Old school learning

Last year I visited my old school to donate the biography of Jo Cox to their library. (You can read about my visit here). They invited me back last week to give a presentation to their awards evening on what I had learnt from being there many years ago. Below is the speech I gave and a some pics from the programme that was handed out. It was a glorious evening to be a part of and watch the young people receive their prizes and accolades with pride.




I will be begin by thanking the Headteacher Mr Paul Foxley and the Chair of Governors Mr Paul Evelyn for inviting me and my wife, Julie here this evening. I left this school 42 years ago and it is great to be back. From the smiles on everyone’s faces and from what I have read about the school, Purbrook Park School continues to be amazing school it was when I was here. Indeed it is probably even better!

So it is good to see you all: students, staff, parents and governors. Thank you all for being so welcoming.

I was asked to reflect on my time here at Purbrook Park School and what learning I took away with me that I still use today, decades later. So please allow me to go through a few ideas and then I will assemble them all into a one word at the end. See if you can work it what it is before I get there.

So what did I learn?

I learnt that everything starts with I, with me, with my ideas and with my actions. Here at this school, I began to get a real sense of my own uniqueness. I attribute this to all the teachers I met during my time here but probably especially Ms Stothers with whom I clashed more than once. But there was deep mutual respect there for each other’s views.

So my overall word begins with I.

Maths was a fun topic for me and I had an array of great teachers including Commander Foster who took no prisoners and was very funny. He left me with a strong belief in numbers, facts and science which I still carry with me. I use this understanding to challenge anecdotal politics and fake news.

So M is my second letter.

I left school here with many ambitions, hopes and dreams. This school was great - and its head teachers especially in encouraging me and my schoolmates to have such plans. Mr Le Min was the head when I arrived and then we had a Mr Elamin, funnily enough. But both were very strong on ambition and inspiring pupils to dream.

A is my third letter

PE and games were never quite my thing. I could never quite understand the educational value of a cross country run in the cold and wet. Still don’t. But Mr Davies shared his delight in games of all kinds and I still have great fun.

G is my next letter.

I am driven forward my innovation. When I was 12, I defined intelligence as being all about getting the most out of life with the least amount of effort. I am always seeking the most elegant, the most efficient and probably therefore the most innovative way of achieving a task. Physics helped me see this and I am grateful to Mr Overton who shared his enthusiasm for good engineering with me.

Another I is next.

Nature is all around us. Mrs Munday in Biology taught me so much about how to enjoy the living breathing world of animals and plants that surround us. I am left with a deep appreciation of all the beauty in the world and the understanding that came from biology.

N is my next letter

Whilst I said that PE was never my favourite subject, I have now returned to a commitment to being active. Here’s my fitbit which has changed my life. And the only sport that I was any good at here at school was badminton and I am grateful to Mr Kent who organised this on Wednesday evenings. He helped my set the foundations for being active today.

A is the next one

One piece of learning I keep coming back to is the importance of being kind, courteous and tactful. I won’t say who it was, but there was evening drama club where the teacher had brought back some new techniques from a training weekend. The group of us, aged about 14, mercilessly took the mickey with these techniques to the extent that the teacher escaped to the staff room crying. We thought we were being funny but actually we were being unkind. We sorted it but it left me always thinking about how important it is to be tactful and just courteous. It goes such a long way.

So T is the next letter.

My third I is for investment. Back here at school I learnt the more you put in the more you get out. It is that simple. I have always liked the quote from Arnold Palmer, a very famous and successful golfer who said  “The more I practice the luckier I get.” While not a golfer, Dr Race my chemistry teacher made me very aware of the need to balance equations.

I is my next letter.

When I was at school, I became very committed to raising money for Oxfam and it was a teacher called Miss Stuart who inspired me to that. I learnt then of the huge importance of creating opportunity. I still carry that learning with me as I summarise my politics as being all about building a world in which everyone has dreams and ambitions and the opportunities and resources to achieve those. This still drives me know - and I am still raising money for Oxfam.

O is my second to last letter.

And my last word to describe the learning I obtained here is ‘now’. Everything is always changing, moving, developing. But one thing is constant - we are all here right now. In this single moment, the future is beginning again for all of us. Nobody has ever taken that sense of now away from me because now everything starts. Again. Once more. And I am grateful to Miss Wood to taught me Latin - and all about tenses - including the present and future tenses!

So N is my last letter.

Have you worked out my overall word of learning? Anyone?

Yes, it is imagination. The most precious piece of learning that I have taken from my school days is a valuing of my own imagination and my respect for everyone else’s. With our imaginations we can all create new worlds and new lives for ourselves. And no one can take your imagination away from you. Our imagination liberates us, inspires us and drives us forward. And it was Mrs Baker, my English teacher who taught me that with novels and with poetry.

So there you have it - 42 years on - I can list what I learnt here and from which teacher I learnt it. I carry with me my individuality, maths, ambition, games, innovation, nature, activity, tact, investment, opportunity, nowness and imagination.   

I am sure that you are all learning far more than you are aware of right now. And it is not all about exams. It is always about living good purposeful lives and helping to build an even better world for everyone.

Keep learning! And keep having fun while you do so!

The Mayor of Milton Keynes' Carol Service (Trefoil #2)

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