Queen “We all owe a debt of gratitude” to those who have risen to challenges of last 18 months”
The Queen paid tribute to the people of Wales at the Official Opening of the Sixth Senedd today.
The kindness shown in communities all over Wales during the hardest days of the COVID-19 Pandemic was celebrated at the Official Opening of the Senedd, with COVID Community Champions – people who went out of their way to help or raise a smile in their communities over the past 18 months – attending.
The event was attended by the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, who met some of the community heroes in the Senedd.
The event featured both virtual and live performances, which highlighted the importance of people’s voices in shaping democracy in Wales and represented the hopes and aspirations for the next Senedd term.
Addressing newly elected Members of the Senedd, the Queen said: “We all owe a debt of gratitude to those who have risen so magnificently to the challenges of the last 18 months – from key workers to volunteers, who have done so much to serve their communities. They are shining examples of the spirit for which the Welsh people are so renowned, that I have personally encountered so many times.
“It is a source of pleasure that both The Prince of Wales and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have lived in Wales and experienced its very special sense of community.
“The Welsh people have much to be proud of and over the next five years, I am sure you will continue to be inspired by their indomitable spirit, as you represent the interests of Wales and its people, make laws for Wales, and hold the Welsh Government to account.”
Llywydd of the Senedd, Elin Jones MS said: “Our work as a Senedd for the next term will undoubtedly focus on recovering from the covid pandemic. But there will also be many other challenges and opportunities – from playing a leading role in tackling climate change to promoting equality and fairness for all in Wales.
“Let our sixth Senedd be productive and innovative, and let us respect, at all times, each other as members and all the people we represent.”
First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford MS said: “We come together for the formal opening of this sixth Senedd in the shadow of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has created so much sadness for so many families. Our thoughts today are with all of them.
“As we look beyond the pandemic, we recognise that we still have many challenges ahead but also many opportunities for a brighter future.
“We will use all our powers to promote prosperity, equality and wellbeing for everyone in Wales. And to turn ourselves to those other crises of our times – climate change and the loss of nature and biodiversity.”
A central part of the ceremony is the delivery of the mace to the debating chamber, to be placed in its sconce to signal that the Senedd is in session.
The role of Mace-bearer, who carried the important symbolic part of the ceremony, was taken by Shaz Khan a member of the Senedd security team. Shaz was born in Cardiff but moved to Pakistan at a very young age before returning to Wales. Shaz’s background is in catering, a trained chef, he used to work in the kitchen before becoming a security officer at the Senedd.
Shaz Khan said: “What an honour, I can’t describe it. It’s such an honour for me, from my very humble beginnings. And to be working with the Welsh Parliament itself, I’m very passionate about it.
“I’ve got relatives in Canada and Australia who will be watching on telly, I’ve been telling everybody!
“You kind of feel nervous, but at the same time, very, very proud to be part of something like this. I’m excited because the mace-bearer’s role includes leading the procession of Members of the Senedd into the building and to lead the Royal Party to the chamber where the opening ceremony will take place.“
The mace is a gift to the Senedd from the Parliament of New South Wales in Australia, and was presented on 1 March 2006 at the Official Opening.
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