President's Message - April 2018

Posted: 30th April 2018, 6:21pm

I was delighted to see so many members and guests at our St George’s Day Lunch – a day for celebration and for networking and a chance for us to support a vital local charity, Youth Talk. Thank you to our headline sponsor Kingston Smith and to all our sponsors, without whom the event would not be possible. Thanks also to Lisa, Anna and Emma, for all their hard work in making the day such a success. And thank you to all of you who attended and entered in to the spirit of the occasion so well.

Winston Churchill said “There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England.” When we think of England what could be more quintessentially English than, among others, a pint of beer in the pub, a portion of fish and chips from the chippie or a good old cup of tea? But as we know, it was the Romans that gave us the road network that led to the creation of inns where travellers could enjoy a beverage. Fried fish was actually introduced into Britain by Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain. And tea came to us via China and India, while the teabag was invented by a New Yorker.

And if St George, born in Turkey to a Turkish father and Palestinian mother, had come to England, he would have been an immigrant. As a tribune in the Roman army, George fought for a Europe-wide state but one that let its inhabitants keep their local traditions, standing up for beliefs, justice and equality in society. As such, St George truly is a multi-national figure celebrated by many nations - the patron of a national consciousness by which we in England can hold different, sometimes plural, identities that we mutually respect - the perfect symbol of multiculturalism.

So this leads me to think that quintessentially English means displaying chivalry, bravery, tolerance, respect, diversity and inclusivity - the ability to absorb different cultures and traditions into a harmonious cohesion. And maybe the adventurous spirit of our knightly saint inspires us on our quests in the service of good. Coming together to do good is a feature of St George’s Day event and I was delighted that we were able to use the occasion to support YouthTalk. 


I look forward to seeing you at our forthcoming breakfast meetings and at the many events during our Business Festival from 11th to 15th June.

Alastair Woodgate
Chamber President 

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