The news of the death of Prince Philip reminded me of the words of the Cheltenham poet, Adam Gordon. He wrote “Life is mostly froth and bubble, Two things stand like stone. Kindness in another’s trouble, Courage in your own.”
They could have been written for the Duke of Edinburgh. Even if he could be abrupt, his long life of service was underpinned by the essential qualities of kindness and courage. So many lives here in Cheltenham have been transformed for the better by the Duke of Edinburgh’s awards scheme, which fosters vital life-skills of resourcefulness and resilience. I hope Prince Philip’s legacy will be to see those qualities valued and extended even further in our country.
Speaking of resilience, it was so uplifting to see Cheltenham’s shops, gyms, hairdressers reopen this week. The BBC were reporting from the High Street, putting us on the map and marking this milestone moment.
With more than 40 million vaccines having been administered across the UK, we are building a strong platform for our recovery. 60% of adults across the United Kingdom have had their first jab, and we have beaten the 15 April target for offering a vaccination to everyone in the nine highest priority groups. Over 45s will be jabbed in the near future.
We can now move forward with completing essential second doses and making progress towards our target of offering all adults a vaccine by the end of July.
I sympathise of course with those who want us to move faster. But just a brief glance across the globe confirms why we need take care. The Indian health service is close to collapse, over 3,000 people a day are dying in Brazil, and the authorities in Turkey are grappling with a third wave. Meanwhile, outbreaks of the South African variant have had to be contained here at home.
We have to allow the NHS the bandwidth to start to clear the backlog of operations and delayed care.
If we stay the course we will reap the benefits.