On June 12th we shall celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s official 90th birthday. I know that Ilkley Parish Council are looking forward to celebrating this national landmark locally amongst which St Margaret’s are delighted to be hosting a “birthday” concert on that Sunday evening at 6.30pm. We shall be welcoming the City of Bradford Brass Band and the Airedale Male Voice Choir amongst the performers and it will be free to enter for all who want to come.

Just one very positive aspect of the Queen’s 90th birthday is the opportunity for us all to recognise the important contribution that the elderly make to our community. In a society which can, at times, make youthfulness an over-prized possession, it can be easy to forget or sideline the vital contribution that those of advanced years can make to us all.

Those who have lived for many years can offer to us all a maturity, a perspective on life, and a wisdom which may not necessarily come to us when we are young. The elderly often have more time too and through the virtues of patience, understanding and tolerance, can open to us those things which are truly worthy in our lives.

This is not to over-romanticize old age. Its physical limitations and diseases can undoubtedly be a great burden on some but the wisdom of age is a priceless gift in a hasty, rushed and potentially unreflective society. My hope and prayer is that this once-in-a lifetime national celebration will lead us to respect, honour, and receive more deeply what the Queen’s generation have given to us through their stoicism, courage and their ultimately winning for us our freedom.