Monday, March 01, 2010

Dydd Gwyl Dewi

This morning, St John's welcomed the annual service of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff for the other Mayors of Wales, prior to the annual St David's Day parade around the city centre. It was perfect occasion with blue sky and crisp air, and enough of a breeze to make the mayoral flag flutter on the St John's tower flagpole during the event.

It began with the surprise arrival of the Archbishop of Cardiff, our nearer neighbour, whom we we delighted to see along with our own Archbishop Barry, who was preaching, and we were able to seat them on opposite sides of the sanctuary in splendour. Archdeacon Peggy and Barry's new chaplain the Very Revd Chris Whittall also came and occupied thrones on high, to add to the pomp of the occasion.

A boy and a girl Scout of the 'Lord Mayor's Own' troop carried the mayoral maces in procession before him, and a Royal Welsh College brass quintet played a special welcoming fanfare before the service began. This was the event I'd hoped to see happen back in November to celebrate the end of the city centre redevelopment phase, but it had proved impossible to communicate with ecumenical leadership in the city to make it happen. I was so glad that after a a little behind the scenes diplomatic activity, it proved possible to have this theme absorbed into the annual Mayoral service. Barry had already been booked to preach, and I'd begun to brief him on the content and theme of the sermon back in August last year. The outcome was just right for the occasion, positive in every sense and appreciative of all the good things that years of effort in planning and construction have brought, for the benefit of all citizens.

There was a good cross section of people involved in the whole project present, although some notable omissions. For some reason I cannot fathom, Paul Williams, the city centre manager was not invited - one of the most pro-active contributors to keeping the place running and building morale and expectation during the years of great upheaval and confusion, left out of the guest list. Why? Paul Manning the city's project manager wasn't there for another reason - an urgent admission to hospital with heart problems. No doubt, a product of the stress under which he has worked over the past seven years I have known him, and just as he is about to retire.

After the service, there was a reception in St David's Hall and then the parade to watch, with great crowds of people in festive costume all along the Hayes, with music and speeches on a small stage in Hills Street. Sunshine throughout. What a pleasure!

Clare and I were also invited to the banquet in City Hall in the evening. We were entertained by singing school children beforehand, and Prince Charles' harpist during supper. She spoke about her role afterwards in a delightful touching way, referring to the beautiful glamorous party dress she was wearing and had worn on several royal occasions and one a match day. She had a story for each occasion. That made me feel very proud. Here was a Welsh girl, something of a musical celebrity, who wasn't telling stories about the special dresses she'd worn (by great designers or at great expense), but remembering the special associations of the one dress she was proud to wear and grace the Prince's events with. Different values, so much more honourable. It's in the little things (as St David would say) that our true worth can be witnessed.

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