Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and here's to 2042!
Thanks to an entirely human construct we call a calendar, this, more than any other time of year, is when we’re all supposed to look back on what’s been achieved in the past twelve months, and forward to the challenges ahead. Well this year I’m looking further ahead, 8,799 days ahead in fact to 23rd January 2042.
My decision to do a bit more forward planning than usual was made on the day of Milton Keynes College Higher Education and Apprenticeship Graduation ceremonies. Driving in to the ceremony the news was grim and depressing, my head was full of President Trump and Brexit and North Korea and global terrorism, global warming and a creaking NHS. What on earth, I thought, can I say to our graduates, my prepared address, with the usual, ‘you should be very proud of your achievements’, ‘enjoy your successes’ and ‘keep in touch’ seemed somewhat trite. Graduation events are always wonderful occasions when we get to celebrate the success of our graduating students and apprentices, and when as members of staff we remind ourselves that what we do is so worthwhile, helping as it does thousands of young people (and older) to reach their potential and pursue their dreams. As I thought about our graduates I began to feel optimistic. Through FE we are sending out into the world, young people imbued with the values we espouse as an institution – to inspire each other, to strive for excellence, to demonstrate integrity, to show respect and to innovate in all that we do. They are the leaders of the future and they are talented, they are values led and they can do it better. So that’s what I said. I kept in the ‘keep in touch’ of course, our alumni are powerful advocates and roles models after all.
This year’s graduation event was special because it took place in Milton Keynes’ 50th birthday year. A milestone for this amazing city. We have encouraged all our students to get involved in the 50th birthday celebrations, not least because those students will have families of their own by the time MK75 is celebrated in 23rd January 2042. When their children ask them, "what did you do to celebrate MK50?", I want them to be able to say, “Well, how long have you got? I painted a cow, I cooked for Prince William, I took part in a festival of fire, I got an MK Dons limited edition MK50 gold shirt". They will be the same creative, driven, values-led individuals whose lives were partly shaped by their experiences at College, proud of their city, part of their community and ambitious for their children’s future. Our graduating students have already played their part in making this city the wonderful, exciting place to live that it is today, and they will make it greater still in years to come.
So let me take this opportunity to wish everyone, whether associated with the College or not, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While you’re celebrating though, raise a festive glass to 2042. It’ll be a good year.