Wasn’t Jubilee weekend fantastic?

It opened with the news that the Queen’s Birthday Honours List included four MBEs for Chester residents.

Councillors Samantha Dixon and Stuart Parker have been recognised for their joint work leading the development of Storyhouse and now the Northgate Project which will open this year. They put party differences aside, showed real leadership and are worthy recipients of the MBE.

It was also wonderful to see two honours awarded for work in the NHS. Sheena Cumiskey from Christleton was until recently the Chief Executive of the CWP, the local community health trust, and she has previously been recognised as the best NHS trust boss in the country.

Gus Cairns from Blacon also won the MBE for his years of work supporting and representing patients. Gus has been open about his own struggles with late-diagnosed autism and with mental health issues, but these have not stopped him from activism and leadership supporting patients in West Cheshire, and improving services for all.

It was lovely to see the bunting and the Union Jacks flying everywhere as we celebrated the best of our nation. There were formal events, with the Cathedral once again at the heart of Chester’s community, and the informal events across local neighbourhoods. It took me back to my childhood and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, which was such a big event in my village at the time.

And what would we do without Matt Baker? His energy, his creativity and his sparkling waistcoat drove the festivities from start to end.

At 96, Her Majesty is clearly nearing the end of her reign and nobody would begrudge her a retirement now. But she has always dedicated her life to service and made good on that promise a millionfold.

She has been the one constant in the lives of almost everyone in the UK. The one rock of certainty in an ever-changing world. Remember, she had already been Queen for eleven years before The Beatles released Please Please Me – their first single – in 1963. Queen for seventeen years before the first moon landings. She has seen so much change but remained that constant presence.

I felt a sense of transition during the jubilee, a passing of the baton to the next generations of royals. But I also felt from our city and from our nation, a profound sense of respect, affection and gratitude to Elizabeth for a life of service well lived.

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