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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Christmas dinner speech - 13 December 2013

It's only 11 weeks since I last stood up here and welcomed you to the Hall.

Yet already I see not 200-odd individual, slightly anxious school leavers in front of me now, but a community of -- mostly -- mature adults.

Three things -- friendship, respect, and celebration -- have enabled that transformation. And those three things -- friendship, respect, and celebration make a perfect theme for a Christmas speech. But this one will be mercifully short.

I hope the friendships that you're making here will help sustain you through the rest of your life.

I hope the respect you learn for your neighbours here will help you always to see things from others' perspective. For that is the foundation of the tolerance and forgiveness that our world so desperately needs.

And I hope the way we can celebrate so many diverse things together here will be a model that you can demonstrate to others when you are the ones teaching, managing, or leading.

But I know that studying at university and living away from home is not easy. This term has actually been a very busy one for me with welfare and pastoral issues. So I hope that all of us here can help to make this hall community a source of encouragement, strength, and support for those who are going through tough times. They need us to show them friendship, respect, and celebration.

But I'm missing one last thing that our community ought to show: thankfulness. Before I close, then, let's join together in saying a very big thank you to the people who put on so many of those celebrations: your Residents Club Committee. A big thank you to the catering staff who have worked incredibly hard today. And finally, a big thank you to all the people sitting around you for making this our home...

I wish every one of you safe journeys this holiday season and a wonderful Christmas and new year.

Merry Christmas everyone!