At HorseBack, we are determined to find the rays of light in these uncertain times. That’s how we get through the days of lockdown, and keep our chins up. Some of those moments of light are the tiniest flashes, hardly visible to the naked eye. Some of them are like a blazing sun fighting through the clouds after a heavy storm.
Yesterday, there was one such blaze of sunshine. It was the Queen’s speech to mark the seventy-fifth anniversary of VE Day. ‘Never give up,’ she said. ‘Never despair. That was the message of VE Day.’
The extraordinary thing is that she was talking from direct memory. She was there, on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, as the jubilant, relieved crowds cheered and sang below her. She and Princess Margaret even went anonymously into the joyous throng, to feel the outpouring of emotion at first hand. When she speaks of that moment in 1945, she is not repeating recorded history; she is doing reportage from the front line. She was a part of that history.
She recalled the sacrifice, the human lives laid down so others could live in peace and safety. She honoured the efforts of those on the home front. She marked the loss. ‘We should and will remember them,’ she said.
And then she turned to the present day, and uttered words of hope and admiration. ‘And when I look at our country today, and see what we are willing to do to protect and support one another, I say with pride that we are still a nation those brave soldiers, sailors and airmen would recognise and admire.’
It was a poignant and perfect tribute, and it moved us deeply.
All of the anniversaries of the Second World War are very close to our hearts. We work with veterans and serving men and women. Two of the team were Royal Marines. Most of us had grandparents who fought in the war. Some of our parents spent their childhood in the shadow of that global conflict, and we heard the stories as we grew up. The pulling lines from that era to this, from that generation to our generation, are strong as steel hawsers to us. In a way, because we work with those who serve, every day is VE Day. We never forget the fortitude and the sacrifice. These things are stitched into our hearts and inform everything we do.
At the other end of the scale, moving from the great to the small, from the national and historic to the local and immediate, we are finding another ray of sunshine. We have two new puppies.
All of you who have animals will know what a delight and consolation they are in times of stress. They don’t follow the news or fret about the future. They live their own, glorious, immediate lives with vivacity and gusto.
Rosie and Gordon are the perfect additions to the HorseBack family. They are funny and gregarious, bright as buttons, in love with life. They make us smile every day. They are pure bundles of loveliness, and they are tiny symbols of optimism. It’s hard to be down in the mouth when you’ve got a puppy leaping about your feet. So even though they’ve only just arrived, they are already doing a true HorseBack job – lifting the spirits and putting a spring in our step and reminding us of what is important. Sometimes it is the smallest things that can make the biggest difference.