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Let us reflect on the loss of a life committed to public service and an extraordinary man

Column by Councillor Kelham Cooke, leader of South Kesteven District Council

On Friday, when the death of His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh was announced, both our district and the nation were united in their collective grief for a much-loved member of the royal family.

Prince Philip had been at Her Majesty The Queen’s side for over 70 years – providing unwavering support and devotion. He was a familiar sight at many public engagements as a companion to the Queen, but his commitment to the United Kingdom and Commonwealth’s communities and charitable endeavours, in his own right, was also equally admirable.

SKDC leader Coun Kelham Cooke. (31805532)
SKDC leader Coun Kelham Cooke. (31805532)

Remarkably, His Royal Highness was associated with 992 organisations, either as president, patron, honorary member, or in another capacity. These organisations covered a broad spectrum, including scientific and technological research and development, education, conservation, the environment, the encouragement of sport, and the welfare of young people.

He is perhaps best known for the charity he founded, The Duke of Edinburgh Charity, which works with organisations across the UK to help young people gain essential skills and develop their confidence to successfully navigate adult life. Many people, including myself, from across South Kesteven will have fond memories of taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, with this experience leaving a lasting impact on our lives.

Alongside his outstanding national contribution, His Royal Highness had also visited our district on several occasions. In 1961, Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness celebrated the quincentenary of Stamford by hosting a gala at Burghley House. This was followed by a visit to Grantham in 1973 to meet some of the local students taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. And more recently, in 2013, His Royal Highness visited Bourne, where he opened the Turing Centre at Bourne Grammar School.

His Royal Highness was a leading light in many aspects of public life, but he was also a cherished husband, father, and grandfather. It was clear to see in many of the photos published that there was an extraordinary bond and an abundance of affection between His Royal Highness and his family, and I am sure that his loss will be acutely felt by them all.

As we join together in a minute’s silence on Saturday to mark the passing of His Royal Highness, we will not only be reflecting on the loss of a life committed to public service but, as His Royal Highness, The Duke of Cambridge, so aptly put, “My grandfather was an extraordinary man and part of an extraordinary generation”.

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