‘Youth, Community and Service’
It is an honour to welcome HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, to Chile; and thank you to everyone for joining us this evening. It has been wonderful to see, during the visit, so much red, white and blue – both the Union Flag of the UK, and, of course, the national flag of Chile to celebrate the Fiestas Patrias. The focus of Prince Edward’s visit is around youth, community and service – and so we are delighted to welcome you here this evening – both leaders who give so much to their country and community, through service; and also young people who we hope will be inspired by others that they meet this evening.
During his visit, the Prince has highlighted the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme. This is the world’s leading youth achievement award. Millions of young people, across the world, from all backgrounds and circumstance have taken part – pushing personal boundaries, gaining new skills, enhancing their CVs, and helping them access a better future. This year the Scheme is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary – 60 years. The scheme is just starting in Chile. We hope to see it grow across many organisations.
The Prince has also visited the 14th Fire Company, the British and Commonwealth Fire and Rescue Company, here in Santiago, of which he is an Honorary Member; and the 11th Fire Company, in Valparaiso. Both have strong British associations. Both epitomise the ideals of volunteers and service to the community. Earlier today we also visited the Universidad Britanica de Cultura, of which HRH Prince Edward, is the Patron. The UCBC is celebrating its 10th anniversary in training young people.
My thanks, in particular, go to the Armada de Chile, who have done so much to facilitate this important visit, and we are pleased to welcome some of their cadets here this evening. We are also pleased to welcome members of the Royal Marines, serving on board HMS PROTECTOR, our ice patrol ship, visiting Chile. The history of the Royal Marines is also tied with Chile, as the need for soldiers on a ship to be under the authority of the Captain, goes back to a disaster off Wager Island, Chile; but I am glad to say that the Captain gave permission for the Marines to help us with our events in Valparaiso and to be here tonight!
Today, Prince Edward visited the British Arch in Valparaiso, where 100 years ago, crowds of 30 000 strong, celebrated the return of Piloto Pardo and the crew of the YELCHO, who had risked their lives to save Shackleton’s men from Elephant Island, epitomising the ideals of service to help others. Today, at the Arch we were welcomed by numerous schoolchildren, celebrating the future.
Tonight, we also remember the past. JAS Jackson, after whom the 14th Fire Company, was named, founded the Grange School, here in Chile. He was an Anglo-Chilean, born in Valparaiso and educated at the University of Cambridge. He served in the First World War, also now 100 years ago. We have arranged for a plaque to be placed here in the Residence garden commemorating the nearly 1800 young men – the ‘West Coast Boys’, who went from Chile to serve in the British forces in WW1.
For those who serve in the British Armed Forces, the Royal British Legion provides lifelong support, to serving men and women, veterans, and their families, championing Remembrance – of those who gave their lives for our freedom; whilst also helping with the future of the living. It is a very great pleasure this evening that the work of the Royal British Legion in Chile, is recognised by this very special award of a British Empire Medal to Roger Barlow. Roger has been unstinting in his efforts and hard work for the Legion, which has helped many families here in Chile, demonstrating all the qualities of service and community that we are celebrating this evening.
Fiona Clouder, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Chile.