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Comment: Age is just a number

It was a strange week. In fact, more accurately, you could say it was a week of extreme contrasts.

It started with some friends, my wife and I enjoying the wilds of Dartmoor. The Monday was my wife’s birthday with a few family celebrations and on the Wednesday I went to hospital, to have the metal that had enabled the surgeon to reconstruct my injured arm, removed. I was even presented with the plate and screws afterwards as some sort of bizarre trophy. So, from Thursday onwards I was at home with an active, if somewhat drugged, mind but otherwise ‘armless.

Which, you may have noticed, leaves Tuesday unaccounted for.

Tuesday’s story started some six weeks ago when I received a card in the post.

The Lord Chamberlain is commanded by Her Majesty to invite Mr and Mrs Graeme Gordon to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

So, on Tuesday, duly kitted out in tail coat and top hat and accompanied by my wife in a beautiful new dress and hat, we went to tea with The Queen!  

While I shared this privilege with some 8,000 others from all walks of life, it was unique for me.

It was special in so many ways – the diversity of people and clothes, from kilts to kimonos, from Canadian Mounties to New Zealand sailors and from top hats and tail coats to shiny suits and T-shirts. However, perhaps the most special and telling aspect was when Her Majesty, The Queen and other members of the Royal Family entered the ‘fray’. They welcomed a few hundred individual guests chosen at random, but also involved as many others as they could. What struck me, however, was the warmth and enthusiasm of this lady and her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh. You should remember The Queen was born in 1926 and is, as I write, 91.  The Duke of Edinburgh is 95. Both were unfailing in their work.

Unlike many of her European counterparts, The Queen has made it plain that she will not abdicate. She made an oath to the people of the Commonwealth before God at her coronation in 1952, she says, and will not break it.

“The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God”

Thus, at 91 she is still effectively working a full day. She may have delegated some of the more arduous duties or those that need to be performed simultaneously, to other key members of The Royal Family, but she will not cease her role as monarch until she is no longer able to perform it.

How many of us can say we have that level of absolute commitment to the role given to us?

I believe that even the staunchest republican would acknowledge The Queen’s commitment to the Commonwealth and her role, and it would be hard to suggest that she had not served those within her realm to the very best of her ability.

So, 24 hours before I went for surgery, I had a very tangible example of the level of commitment you should arguably give to any role you have committed to. Whether as a parent, employer, employee, carer or politician, we have no excuse for doing a half-hearted job. I will remember this 91-year-old true lady’s example of doing it ’right’.

By Græme Gordon, Executive Director, Praxity

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