Perhaps that is because much has taken place during the year or perhaps it is simply that time passes more quickly as you get older!
One of the highlights of the year for me was the ceremony held in the Royal Square on 4 August to mark the outbreak of World War One. It was attended by thousands of Islanders and was an evocative testament to the sacrifice made by so many in that terrible conflict. The ceremony involved hundreds of volunteers who between them put on a wonderful display. I would like to repeat my thanks to all of them for giving up their time to prepare, attend rehearsals and then participate in the event itself. It was a very moving occasion.
Next year sees the 70th anniversary of our liberation from occupation during the Second World War. That is a very different form of commemoration. In relation to World War One, we were recalling the outbreak of war and all the suffering which that brought. Conversely, on Liberation Day, whilst we recall the hardship endured by so many, we celebrate the joy of liberation after five long years of occupation by the forces of Nazi Germany. The 70th anniversary will be a particularly significant one and I know that plans are being drawn up with a view to marking that important anniversary appropriately.
This year was also the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy. I had the honour, together with the Chief Minister, of representing the Island at the various ceremonies held in Normandy to commemorate those landings. It was a very moving occasion, added to by the fact that two of our local Normandy veterans were able to attend. Seeing the beaches brings home the challenge of the task which the Allied Forces faced and the bravery and skill they showed in achieving success. Later in July, my wife and I had the opportunity of visiting the Royal Chelsea Hospital and meeting a number of Pensioners, all of whom have of course served in the Armed Forces. I am grateful that Jersey has the continued support of Chelsea Pensioners at key events such as Liberation Day and Remembrance Sunday, as they add greatly to these occasions.
On a different note, my wife and I were also delighted to attend the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow. Team Jersey performed admirably and it was a privilege to support our fine athletes in their competitive endeavours. As small as Jersey might be, I am always amazed at the Island’s ability to produce top-class sports men and women and we only just missed obtaining medals in both bowls and shooting. Next year, Jersey will host the Island Games and I know that preparations are well advanced. It should be a wonderful occasion and I have no doubt that the Island will provide a warm welcome to the participants.
On a sadder note, we have this year seen the passing of two former Lieutenant-Governors, Sir Michael Wilkes and, more recently, Sir John Sutton. Both men were extremely distinguished and served the Island and its community with great enthusiasm. They were both regarded with great respect and also with affection for the way in which they went about fulfilling the responsibilities of their office. They both committed themselves fully to the role and we express our condolences to Lady Wilkes, Lady Sutton and their families.
During my time as Bailiff, I have never ceased to be impressed by the generosity and goodwill in our community. I have seen this particularly in the voluntary and charitable sector which makes such an enormous contribution to our society across all ages, from youth groups to organisations which care for the sick and the elderly. A leading example of voluntary service to the community is that given by the honorary police. I am delighted therefore that in December, Her Majesty authorised the award of Long Service and Good Conduct medals to members of the Honorary Police who have served for 12 years. This is a splendid recognition of the dedicated service which so many members of the honorary police have given over a lengthy period, turning out at all times of the day or night in order to serve the community. I much look forward to the first presentations of the medal in 2015.
This will be the last occasion on which I shall send a Christmas Message as Bailiff. It has been a privilege and an honour to serve in that office and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all those who have made my wife and me so welcome, whether at civic ceremonies, community or charitable events or on other occasions. I could not be more proud of our Island. We have much to be grateful for in terms of its beauty, the low crime rate, the excellent health and educational services and the sense of community. But, like all communities we face our challenges and we need in particular to ensure that the Island looks after those who are in need. Christmas is a time to celebrate with family and friends and to reflect on the year gone by; above all we should recall what occurred in Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago with its message of joy, peace, friendship and compassion.
Joan joins me in wishing all your readers a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a New Year filled with promise and opportunity.