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United by purpose – a letter to Princess Royal Training Awards applicants from Princess Anne

May 28, 2020 | 2020 awards

It’s fair to say, that no one alive has ever experienced a time like this.  You have to go back to the post-WW1 flu, the cholera epidemics that would lead to modern sanitation, The Black Death and the great plagues.  For all of us, it really is unprecedented, and it has led to us adopting working practices that would have been impossible not that long ago. In fact, before the advent of modern technology and the digital age, this would have been truly catastrophic.  We simply wouldn’t have been able to function.  But we can, and we are!

It’s also been a time when normally unsung heroes are being recognised:  the corner shop keeper looking after her customers, the care workers in the thousands of home desperately trying to keep their residents safe and reassured, the bus drivers and bin men serving their communities, not to mention our newly recognised national heroes in our hospitals.  Families are separated, lovers parted, but communities have come together to support one another. My neighbours in north east London are sharing shopping, offering bikes and books for each other’s youngsters, and making sure the vulnerable have access to the support they need. And the hope has to be that after this is all over, these seeds of kindness and support will grow and develop just as the seedlings of spring will in time blossom into the flowers of the summer.

One of the applicants for the Princess Royal Training Awards said that applying and hopefully achieving one will be the silver lining on a very dark cloud this year.  They have laid off staff across the globe, and their application has been passed like a baton as colleagues were furloughed until eventually submitted, the day before the last member of the team left.  After we had received all the application we had planned to send the letter our President, HRH The Princess Royal had asked us to share with those who applied this year in recognition of their monumental effort.  But I knew if I waited, there would be no one to receive it, so casting planning to the wind, I sent it to them immediately. This is the response from their director: Thank you for sharing this with the team now, this has gone such a long way to helping them feel still included.  It’s such difficult times and any gestures like this really resonate. With my heartfelt thanks’.

The Princess Royal Training Awards team has been astonished by the commitment of the applicants this year –  the woman who apologised for her lack of attachments, their IT department was all on furlough, and in passing, her husband was had just come home from intensive care, and thankfully was recovering. And those who when we rang wanted to tell us their story and share their experiences to someone happy to listen. And that’s why being able to share such well-deserved royal recognition with all those who have applied this year is so important, and clearly means so much.

It’s been a very odd year, but what is becoming increasingly clear, is that there really is so much more that unites us than divides.  Whether its colleagues children hijacking video conferences or people showing genuine concern for others, this experience has and will change us all.  Let’s hope we can hang on to the good bits: the compassion, the recognition of everyday heroes, the genuine concern, and the re-energised communities.  Not all our applicants will achieve a Princess Royal Training Award this year, but every one of them has earned our respect and admiration and taught us that what we do is genuinely appreciated, and we have been humbled by it.

This was originally posted on https://cityandguildsfoundation.org

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