Elegant and carefully selected accessories.
And a stylish haircut ruined by a stupid hat.
But enough about me…this is your day and I have something that I wish to share with you:
I love graduation day. I look forward to it. I enjoy it, I think, because all of the normal routines of daily life are temporarily suspended. All the hum-drum routines that signal and which are necessary to everyday life are set aside.
I rose early this morning.
I put on fancy clothes – Does anyone else feel like they have wandered into a Quidditch match?
I consumed a full English breakfast. And much of it did not make its way on to my tie.
If I’m honest I’m feeling pretty happy; rather content. In fact I’m feeling a bit festive.
You see the suspension of my daily routine makes today feel a bit like Christmas morning.
Charles Dickens – the soppy old fool – was a big fan of Christmas. And in his writing Dickens makes it very plain why he loves Christmas so. On Christmas morning, he tells us, people try just a little bit harder. They speak warmly; there is softness and kindness in the voice. There are no strangers on the street. Everyone is saluted. All are welcomed. Dickens loved Christmas, I think, because on Christmas morning we meet and become our better selves.
This has been my experience today. It is my better self that I think of when I turn my mind to graduation day. This is why I feel all festive. I hope that this has been your experience. I hope that like me you are feeling festive.
With warmth in my voice therefore I will take a moment to highlight the achievement of Helen Cook. Helen is the very first PhD to graduate from the University of Suffolk. Helen we are very proud of you. And at the risk of breaching protocol I will say congratulations Dr Cook!
And with softness I would like to speak now not only to the graduands but to your families and to my colleagues: I hope that today feels a bit like Christmas day (or Eid or Hannuka) because you have worked hard and you deserve to have your achievements recognised. Today you deserve words that are warm; speech that is soft. You deserve to have you achievements celebrated.
In a moment my colleague Dr Thomas will call you to the stage and in time-honoured fashion will acknowledge and honour your very substantial achievements by mis-pronouncing your names. Before this I simply close by asking that you stay in touch.
Don’t forget about us. Don’t forget what it took to get here today.
And as you go on to build your careers be ambassadors for the University of Suffolk.
Be role models for your communities. Meet and become your better selves. Don’t pull the ladder up after you.
Honour and keep the festive feeling that we share today.