Forget the problems – 2012 is time for flag waving

AS spring seems to have arrived at last, I’ve started to think about the major national events this summer.

I am particularly excited about the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee as I am an avid supporter of the royal family. As a small boy, going to my grandparents cottage on a farm in Dry Drayton, I can always remember the farm house with its union flag flying proudly overhead.

The owner of the farm was a kindly man who could have been described as quintessentially English, with his tweed clothing and Rolls Royce Silver Cloud. He later went on to become the High Sheriff for Cambridgeshire for a year.

One day I noticed the flag had been changed for a new one, so I asked him what he had done with the old one. I showed such interest that he gave it to me. I didn’t have a proper pole so I made a makeshift one out of Nanna’s clothes-prop, but it flew just the same and I felt proud to be flying it.

Some years on I still fly the Union Flag at my own home in St Ives, with a proper pole(!), and I have other flags that I put up, depending on the occasion. I expect it probably wasn’t much of a surprise to people when I asked that the Union Flag be flown every day at Pathfinder House when taking over as executive leader last May.

We have much to be concerned about as a nation at the moment, but this year signifies a year of great flag waving with Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics coming to London, as well as the Olympic torch coming through our district.

I know that some people see the Union Flag as a symbol of a chequered past that we should forget or as a symbol of extremism. The Union Flag to me has a strong meaning of belonging, country and patriotism. I’m one of those people who still stand for the National Anthem and encourage my two children to do the same.

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Whatever your beliefs and whatever banner you choose to stand under, we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to celebrate, especially this year.

So let’s all lift a glass to Her Majesty and to our athletes and sportsmen and women and hope that 2012 will be one we all remember.