First published in the Daily Express on 06 June 2020.
MY passion for bravery has spanned well over half a century and yet, even now, certain quotations associated with courage still stir my blood.
Thucydides was one of the first Greek historians and a skilled military general.
In the fifth century BC, he wrote: “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”
Nelson Mandela once said: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
These two quotations, which I have long cherished, explain why I have such a deep-rooted admiration and respect for our emergency service workers.
They climb out of their beds each morning knowing their job will put them in danger from coronavirus. If they contract Covid-19, it could cost them their life. It is vital that their outstanding bravery and devotion to duty are recognised in an appropriate and enduring way. In particular, those who have died carrying out their dangerous work are genuine heroes – and they deserve to be treated as such. This is why I am so supportive of the campaign, spearheaded by the Daily Express, for a national monument to be constructed in memory of our fallen 999 workers.
The £3.2million memorial will honour their self-sacrifice. I am delighted to reveal that I have made a significant donation towards the cost of the memorial and I hope it will encourage others to make a gift, if their circumstances permit.
Politicians, including Boris Johnson, and the Royal Family have given their support for this monument. Indeed, the Queen has indicated she intends to unveil the monument designed by sculptor Philip Jackson. A 20ft-high bronze memorial is due to be opened in 2023 at a central London site.
Just as we rightly remember our war dead with appropriate memorials, we should also posthumously honour our emergency service workers with equal amounts of gratitude and respect.
The National Emergency Services Memorial, which was being planned before the coronavirus pandemic, will now honour more than 180 NHS staff who have died from Covid-19.
Sadly, that total is certain to rise over the months ahead. It is these brave men and women that we will never forget, thanks to the splendid memorial that is now being planned in their memory.