Sunday afternoon was an important day in the local Scout’s calendar. The Scouts are thriving in our District and many gathered at Forest School to receive Chief Scout’s Awards.
Many adults devote time to nurture and expand the horizons of these young people in what is clearly an immensely rewarding task. There was a great buzz in the room and it was a huge pleasure to join them. What I was pleased to say, in congratulating all those there, was that the world they are inheriting is better than that into which their grandparents and parents were born and continues to improve.
We are living longer and have better medication and hospital treatment than ever before. The quality of teaching and educational experience is incomparable to that experienced by earlier generations. University attendance has increased from one in twenty to one in two. Horizons are broader. Travel is vastly easier. As for communications: Alexander Graham Bell the inventor of the telephone said “it may not be too much to hope that one day every major town in America will have a telephone”...we all know the reality. Many of the traditional basic-industry large-employment sectors have gone but the jobs that have replaced them are, broadly, higher “value-added”, safer and better for the environment than those which went before.
However these positive developments have implications. Increased longevity increases demand for pensions, housing and social care. Our excellent NHS completes more successful operations and prescribes more drugs than ever – but needs more resources to do so. Education is vital but it comes at a cost. We also have the over-riding priority of addressing the challenge of climate change.
All of this and much more can be afforded but to do so sustainably we need to continue to grow our economy. We cannot simply borrow money for our needs and expect the current generation of young people to pay off our debts in the future. The UK must embrace all the opportunities of the technological revolution. That will require targeted Government support and is a challenge about which I am sure we will be hearing ever more in the years ahead.
Photo caption: Some of the many successful achievers at the Horsham District Chief Scout Awards Presentations at Forest School on Sunday.