I would like you to share an experience of mine which I hope none of you will ever experience.
Picture this: three years ago my eldest daughter, while we were on holiday in Wales, wanted to go on a kayak. We hired one for a few hours. It was a lovely, warm, calm August day. We had a lovely time. Returning from our trip, and about 100m from shore, we hit the confluence of the river estuary, a fresher wind and a turned incoming tide. I was at the stern, a wave caught us under the bow. We went over. Both ended up in the water. If I close my eyes I can still hear the panicked cry of ‘Daddy!!’ as we both bobbed to the surface. My daughter was then 10. I grabbed her. Still buffeted by rising waves going
over our heads I got her to hold the kayak. I rescued the paddles and we swam to an inlet where, scratched by barnacles, soaked through and frankly frightened, we sorted ourselves out. Caught
our breaths. Paddled like fury and returned to the little beach and safety.
For those in peril on the sea
I thought of this as I read about the souls lost in the Channel this week. The words of the hymn ‘Eternal Father Strong To Save’ so recently sung at Remembrance Sunday echoed in my ears: ‘for those in peril on the sea’. Not a single one of us can ever pretend to understand or share the imperatives, dangers, hopes, fears, aspirations that drive people from their homeland to seek a better future across our continent. I had the tiniest glimpse of the gut tightening anxiety of a much loved daughter in trouble in a choppy sea. But, we were not in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane. It wasn’t November. We
weren’t in an overcrowded, not fit for purpose vessel. We could see the shore.
A beacon of hope
I am more than aware of the additional pressures that those making the crossing put on our social and other services. The current situation is not sustainable. We must work collaboratively with the French and other European Governments to have a shared response.
I pray that we actually try to solve the issue rather than playing the blame game and victimising the ‘others’ to protect the ‘us’.
Is it naïve to make the following comment? Is the fact that some of our fellow human beings are
prepared to risk life and limb to come to the UK a source of pride? They don’t see the White Cliffs. They see a beacon of hope, a citadel of decency, a functioning democracy, a stable form of governance, a land of peace and of opportunity. A country of values and honour. I think there is something rather
noble in that assessment as to how we are seen.
A Christmas Story
We are approaching the Christmas Season and we focus upon the birth of Jesus. But the Christian story would have been a very short one had not two parents, for the safety of their child, made a flight into Egypt. Let our charity be more than a form of ritualistic, platitudinous words. Let it be more than that. Let it start with the simple truth: we talk of people not statistics.
May those who lost their lives Rest in Peace.
by Simon Hoare MP