May I wish you a very happy New Year.
We remember 2012 as the year the country celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen and the year that London hosted the Olympics. So it got me wondering: how will 2013 be remembered?
The last year has not been without its own monumental occasions. 2013 was the year that Pope Benedict XVI resigned – the first Pope to do so since 1415.
It was also the year we mourned the loss of two great leaders. Margaret Thatcher – the longest serving British Prime Minister of the twentieth century – died in April; the indelible mark she left on our country will be remembered for generations to come.
In December, there were outpourings of grief the world over at the loss of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first fully democratically elected President and the single most effective champion of the anti-apartheid struggle.
But while remembering those we lost in 2013, who could forget the elation which swept the country in the summer as we welcomed the future Monarch, Prince George?
The sense of excitement we shared back in July echoed the enthusiasm we showed the year before as the Queen celebrated her jubilee year – only this time we were blessed with splendid summer weather.
So while reflecting on last year, it is important to draw on lessons learnt as we look to the year ahead.
There were two events in 2013 which I look forward to building on in 2014. I have already mentioned the death of Nelson Mandela, the man from whom we can all learn lessons. His inspirational legacy will be characterised by his enduring struggle against discrimination and his enduring pursuit of equality. In the UK, 2013 also saw the legalisation of equal marriage.
Whatever your view on equal marriage – and I have made no secret of my unequivocal support for it - this law fundamentally seeks to create a fairer, more equal society.
And this gives me hope for 2014. Whatever the New Year brings, I am hopeful that we can learn from – and build upon – the events of 2013 as we all play our part in making this year one of peace, prosperity and respect for each other.