Last week, I once again welcomed pupils and staff of Ysgol Pen y Bryn, Upper Colwyn Bay, to Westminster.
For several years, Pen y Bryn have supported the “Send my Friend to School” campaign, the UK arm of the Global Campaign for Education, which seeks to remind world leaders of their commitment to provide quality education for all children, wherever they live in the world. Pen y Bryn have been enthusiastic proponents of the campaign. Every year since I was elected to Parliament, children from the school have visited Westminster and delivered petitions calling upon the British Government to continue to discharge its obligations to the world’s expanding population of children, which is the planet’s most valuable resource.
This year’s visit took place in the middle of the heatwave that has gripped the capital for weeks. We walked up Downing Street and, after the obligatory photographs, had a brief discussion as to who should use the knocker on the famous black door. The lot fell to one of the girls, who delivered a single, resounding knock. A custodian opened the door and the cardboard box containing the petition was handed over.
All this was pretty exciting; but the excitement wasn’t over. As we left Downing Street, we found ourselves in a prime position to view the Royal Air Force centenary flypast, on its way over the Mall towards Buckingham Palace. Wave after wave of aircraft from the past hundred years flew overhead, including everyone’s favourite, the peerless Spitfire. The last rank of planes flew in a formation that spelled out “100”. It was an unforgettable sight.
For the children of Ysgol Pen y Bryn, it was, I think, an equally unforgettable visit. They learned that ordinary citizens can make a genuine difference to Government policy if they are sufficiently assertive and persistent. They learned about the duty that everyone in this fragile world owes to one another. And perhaps they also learned that, if we value a peaceful future, we must be prepared to defend that peace.
It was, I hope, a good day out.