Speech delivered by Councillor Lindlsey Harvard, Lord Mayor of Coventry, at the Coventry Peace Dinner organised by United Nations Association Coventry Branch on 21 September 2016.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I’m delighted to be here today at the first Coventry Peace Day – and to mark the launch of the United Nations Association Coventry Branch
I’m sure that your organisation will become another crucial part of our city’s work towards creating a peaceful world and we are pleased to welcome you to our Coventry ‘family’
Today is a day when our city and the world celebrate peace. It is a day when we call on people to end conflicts and aggression and join together in friendship and understanding
It is a message Coventry has been spreading since the Second World War, which left our city and cathedral devastated by the Blitz
For 76 years, our city has helped different communities to better understand each other and live together, to end conflicts and foster forgiveness
Today, the cathedral ruins, the wonderful new Cathedral alongside us, and the very name of Coventry are symbols of peace and reconciliation, recognised around the world
The need for unity is as important today as it has always been – and that is why organisations like the United Nations Association are so important – to promote peace and mutual understanding and raise international issues
And as part of that work, you have given us our first Coventry Day of Peace – for which I thank you
Today, we are using that opportunity to call on people of different nationalities, religions, races or cultures to work together and overcome ignorance and prejudice
We are supporting the message of the United Nations – that a safer, fairer, more sustainable world where people have the tools they need for a healthy life, will help to bring an end to poverty and thereby promote peace
And we are also raising money to help refugee children in Coventry, so please dig deep and help if you can
Coventry is a pro-active city that for many years has held the Coventry Peace Festival, which takes place from the 1st to the 14th November, promoting the messages of peace, through events, exhibitions and concerts from all sections of the community
This year, as well as the Remembrance and Communal Grave services and wide variety of community events, we have Michael Morpurgo OBE, author of “Warhorse” and many other bestsellers, speaking at the Lord Mayor’s Annual Peace Lecture, in St Mary’s Guildhall
The very popular annual Peace Walk takes place again and the St Michaels Singers present “The Armed Man – A Mass for Peace” in Coventry Cathedral. These are just a few of the many interesting, thought-provoking and enjoyable aspects of the festival that I hope you will be able to take a look at and participate in
Thank you for inviting me today and thank you all for all you are doing to make the world a more peaceful place. We look forward to working alongside you to spread the message even further in the years ahead.