By the end of July, in the two months since becoming Mayor, we attended 69 events, which did not include some of the committees of the City Council. The two most frequently asked questions were: ‘Are you enjoying being Mayor again?’ and ‘Aren’t you hot in those robes?’ The answer to both is ‘Yes.’
It is a privilege to meet so many people and attend so many different events showing what a vibrant place Ely is these days and while there are several chains of office that might be seen at events, I believe that wearing the red robes of office, however hot this summer, adds something to the status of Mayor.
This summer I have done a number of ‘meet and greets’ for overseas visitors to Ely, particularly students of language schools and exchange visit organisers. It has particularly been my pleasure to meet many Chinese young people to the Sessions House and tell them something of the history of Ely, the building itself and what the Mayor does, although I’m not sure how much they have understood. We exchange small gifts and pose for photographs and selfies and delightful, respectful young people they are.
At one session I was asked, ‘What would a young Chinese person have to do to adapt to life in England?’ A question to really make me think. I am pleased to say that I believe Ely is a very welcoming and safe place for visitors from abroad and I hope we realise the economic benefits that hosting such visitors means to our local shops and restaurants. I also believe that all young people from wherever in the world have so much more in common than differences. There is a universality about fashion, music, films, sport. There are similar shared hopes and ambitions that make me feel that the more everyone travels and meets each other, the better understanding we will have. Ignorance and suspicion lead to conflict.
For the future peace and well being of the planet, young people getting to know other young people and understand more about their countries will do more than any much-trumpeted exchanges between world leaders. I would like to think so anyway and meanwhile, we do our best in Ely.