In this Christmas message to you, I have been reflecting on what we have done during and over the last 12 months.
As in past years I have again taken the opportunity to visit a good number of our people in their various communities who bear the brunt of the workload and I have been privileged to work with and alongside many wonderful people.
The enthusiasm and professionalism of you all and the clearly evident respect by which St John is held within the community and by our community partners is something you should all be very proud of. During this year, as in past years, I wish to again thank you for your hospitality, company, honesty, and your commitment. I am immensely proud of you all, and the positive effects that you are achieving wherever we are engaged. We may be small, but we do make a difference.
For many young people the future is a source of excitement, hope and challenge. For others however the future is a cause of understandable anxiety. There are many, for example, of other generations or amongst the more vulnerable in society who worry that they will be left behind. The sheer rate of change seems to be sweeping away so much that is familiar and comforting.
Nevertheless, I do not think we should be over anxious. We can make sense of the future - if we understand the lessons of the past. A well-known Prime Minister once said, “The further backward you look, the further forward you can see”.
To do this we need to draw from our history those constant and unchanging values that have stood the test of time and experience. The future is not only about new gadgets, modern technology or the latest fashion, important as they may be. At the centre of our lives – today and tomorrow – must be the message of caring for others.
But it is also true that in our days, unfortunately, many children in different parts of the world are suffering and being threatened; they are hungry and poor; they are dying from diseases and malnutrition; they are victims of war; they are abandoned by their parents and condemned to remain without a home, without the warmth of a family of their own; they suffer many forms of violence and arrogance from grown-ups.
When you are enjoying the wonderful love of your family on Christmas day I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on those less fortunate than you, the ones who have no family and will spend Christmas on their own.
Christmas provides the opportunity to focus on our achievements over the past year and to prepare for the year ahead. It is a period that can be a special time for being with family and friends, a time for rest and recreation, but for others it will mean working through our traditional holiday break. I especially want to recognise the contribution made by our families, who, with little recognition, provide us with the support and solid foundation which is so important for us to achieve our tasks. Please pass on my personal thanks to your families with the recognition that we are all very appreciative of their support for you.
To all St John Penguins, Cadets and Leaders, together with my family, I wish you and yours a safe and happy Christmas and New Year.
Acting Head of Community Programmes and Engagement