Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans visits New York, celebrates the Platinum Jubilee and attends a commemorative service to mark the end of the Falklands War
I visited New York recently, meeting with our British Consul General Emma Wade Smith. She told me how British entrepreneurs were extremely active in New York with over 120,000 living and working there. She also noted how many UK ministers were now heading to the city to bang the trade drum loudly for us. She was also looking forward to celebrating the Platinum Jubilee with our American cousins.
I was determined to be back in the Ribble Valley for the festivities and my timing couldn’t have been better. I flew across ‘the pond’, took the train to central London and as I crossed Westminster Bridge I and thousands of others were treated to the fly past of 70 planes and helicopters and there were further cheers as the Red Arrows performed, leaving their signature display of red, white and blue vapour streaming behind them in patriotic glory.
I travelled back to The Ribble Valley and joined the celebrations in my village, which were replicated in villages throughout the land. I was asked to propose a toast to Her Majesty and blasted out as loud as I could: “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster!”
Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I travelled around many villages and towns and it was tremendous to see the bunting and flags adorning so many houses. This celebration brought people together in an incredible way. The weather could not have been better and spirits were lifted.
The finale was the pageant which I was privileged to witness myself on the balcony overlooking Whitehall. I later met Sir Cliff Richard, who told me how wonderful it was to be with with so many stars from his era. I told him that the day would have been even more perfect if he had sung his Eurovision blockbuster Congratulations to Her Majesty! And what a joy to see the Queen during her surprise appearance on the balcony.
Also this month, I met the teams participating in the annual tug of war at Westminster School to raise funds for Macmillan nurses. It was a further delight for me to meet the successful team from BAe who won the trophy. They helped raise tens of thousands of pounds that day.
The Rugby World Cup is coming soon to France and a presentation was given to MPs by those involved, including Sir Bill Beaumont and Will Greenwood. I was delighted to learn that a British company, Aramis, had won the contract to supply equipment for the event.
I joined the Speaker to attend a service to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the ending of hostilities in the Falklands War. It’s hard to believe that I was 24 at the time, but I remember well, my sense of pride at what the British forces had achieved in liberating the islands. I’ve been there myself three times and know how patriotic they are. The Speaker read an extract from the speech Margaret Thatcher made to a packed House of Commons on 15th June 1982: “Early this morning in Port Stanley, 74 days after the Falkland Islands were invaded, General Moore accepted from General Menendez the surrender of all Argentine forces in East and West Falkland together with their arms and equipment.”
In a message to the Commander in Chief Fleet, General Moore reported: “The Falkland Islands are once more under the Government desired by their inhabitants. God save the Queen.”
I couldn’t end in any better way other than to say, on behalf of all the residents of the Ribble Valley, congratulations ma’am and thank you!