...at Westminster. It began early, as I hurried to the Houses of Parliament to see that all would be well for the event I was organising for later in the day. And all was well. Men were cleaning up the filth and graffitti left by rioters. Words cannot adequately express the contempt felt by most of us for the lout who violated the Cenotaph, dishonouring our war dead and ripping down the Union Jack, so I won't try to write about it. Let's just say that the cleaning up had been done swiftly, and the policemen at St Stephen's Entrance were just as jolly and friendly as ever, and reassured me that the young people coming to recieve their prizes for the Schools Bible Project needed no special passes or anything of that kind and should just turn up and would have a happy day.
On to Westminster Cathedral where I had been invited to the celebration lunch for OREMUS, the Cathedral magazine, for which I write. It was very, very enjoyable: a delicious meal, with mulled wine and mince pies and Fr Tim, our Editor, making a most gracious speech thanking us all. We were in the Hinsley Room, the small hall built a few years ago for Cathedral parish meetings and activities, and as we talked around the table, children at the St Vincent de Paul school ran about shrieking happily in the school playground in the shadow of the great Cathedral.
And so back to Parliament. The Schools Bible Project is a nationwide event run by an ecumenical Christian group of which I am chairman. It is a priviledge to be involved and a great joy to meet our young prizewinners as they gather at Westminster. Lord Brennan, distinguished lawyer and Chairman of the Catholic Union of Great Britain presented the prizes, and spoke most movingly about the Bible and its beauty, its strength and its message. The young people, their parents and teachers, were a delight. We had a tour of Parliament, and together pondered its great history, its longevity, the great events that have taken place within its walls. We had tea, and the young people recieved their prizes and Bibles, and photographs were taken and out beyond the latticed windows the London lamplight fell on the Abbey and its gardens as dusk fell on one of the most famous views in all the world.
Just for the record, the winners in the 2010 Schools Bible Project are:
1st prize: Daniel Kelly, Dalriada School, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland
2nd prize: Ethan Evans, Afon Taf School, Troedyrhiw
3rd prize: Harry Brownfield, Chesham High School, Bucks
4th Prize: Alexander Poole-Gleed, Oaklands Catholic School, Hants
1st prize: Maria Czepiel, King Edward VI High School, Edgbaston Birmingham
2nd prize: Olivia Rugeley, West Hatch High School, Chigwell, Essex
3rd prize: Claire McDonald, St Paul’s High School, Glasgow
4th prize: Rosemary Walmsley, King Edward VI High School, Edgbaston
The Christian Projects team later met to review the 2010 project and plan for next year. A good and happy day.
PS The chap who violated the Cenotaph has apologised and expressed true sorrow. See here.