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Tributes to the Speaker

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:49 pm on 31st October 2019.

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Photo of Rosie Duffield Rosie Duffield Labour, Canterbury 1:49 pm, 31st October 2019

First, I need to say that I will not be here for the tributes to the chaplain, but the House’s loss is Canterbury’s gain, and I am thrilled that I will get to see much more of Rose Hudson-Wilkin in my constituency; that is brilliant.

Mr Speaker, it is so difficult to put into words what seeing you in the Chair means to people like me on the Back Benches. Some of the speeches today have been incredibly moving. I need to find a new word for kindness, because when we look at today’s Hansard, that is the word that will come up the most.

I do not know how to express my gratitude for how immensely patient and lovely you have been; I do not want to get too emotional. My father has Alzheimer’s, and his recent memories are not that great, but he will never forget and never stops talking about the day that I was sworn in and how kind you were to my very ordinary family, who had never set foot in a place like this. You made an effort to wave to them and mention them, and my dad was talking about it even yesterday, when we were at a family funeral. It meant a great deal to him and my family, and that is something I will never forget.

When those of us here—especially women and Back Benchers—who are pretty terrified of this experience get up and talk about things that are personal and make us vulnerable, we can stand here and look at you, and you are a bit like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. During the speech that I made recently, when I felt very vulnerable, you kept me going. I just kept concentrating on you, and I knew that you were there, emotionally holding my hand; you have done that physically as well, which is lovely. I do not know how to thank you enough, but I am trying to say thank you. I will never, ever forget your kindness. Thank you very much.