The Awards for Excellence provide an important and welcome opportunity to come together and celebrate the many and varied achievements of our island community over the past 12 months.
Now in their 16th year, November’s awards ceremony has become firmly entrenched in the rhythm of island life.
I extend my warm congratulations to this year’s winners and finalists and offer my thanks to all those who took the time and effort to submit an entry.
And I must also extend my thanks to Trudi Williamson and her team at Isle of Man Media, as well as the sponsors, for what was a superb event.
Over the years, there have been some remarkable stories and achievements and this year has been no exception.
That the awards go from strength to strength is testament to the Manx way of life.
A people with a relentless zeal to progress and advance; striving to deliver prosperity and to sustain and enrich the quality of life each of us holds dear.
This sense of determination spans all parts of our community: from individuals, to private businesses, charitable and voluntary organisations and the public sector.
In so many ways, the awards tell the story of our island.
And it is a story worth telling. In recent weeks I have undertaken a number of off-island visits to help promote our Island and take our extraordinary story further afield, forging new relationships and cementing existing ones.
From Bahrain, to Belgium, to South Africa, our approach to doing businesses and reputation for nimbleness and adaptability continues to impress. But we cannot and must not become complacent.
That is why government has been working in recent years to secure our Island’s future prosperity by laying foundations for economic growth over the next decade and beyond.
This work cumulated with the approval in Tynwald last week of ‘Our Island, Our Future’ that sets out an ambitious economic strategy to build a better future for our island and its people.
This strategy will now be incorporated into Our Island Plan – the overarching strategy for this administration – and we must now double down on our work to build a secure, sustainable and vibrant future for the Isle of Man.
But governments cannot and should not act in isolation.
Making these things happen will not be easy.
We will need to act together with commitment and determination to bring the best out of our island.
And yes, whilst there is much work to do, we should cherish our community’s achievements, for there is so much to be proud of. It can be all too easy for complacency to set in, to dismiss ceremonies and events such as the Awards for Excellence as glamour and glitz for its own sake.
But recognising the hard-won achievements in our community is as vital as ever. It helps to inspire; it sets an example; it makes us reflect and ask ‘What’s next?’; and it spurs us on to look to the future and think bigger and bolder.
This opportunity for recognition and celebration is especially important when times are tougher and we find reason to reflect on the world we live in.
Since last year’s awards we find ourselves with war raging on the continent of Europe following Putin’s illegal and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine.
But the worst of Putin’s regime has brought out the best in us.
The Isle of Man and its people have stepped up and played their part in the international response to Russia’s aggression.
As an island we have – for the first time – opened our homes and our arms to refugees fleeing conflict, with the Isle of Man providing a safe haven for more than 100 Ukrainians.
And we have provided emergency funding to support UN agencies working with refugees fleeing the conflict.
The contrast between life in the Isle of Man and Ukraine is stark.
It should remind us to treasure all that we have and that our way of life cannot be taken for granted. But we can draw on that contrast to spur us on, redoubling our efforts to cherish, celebrate and advance our way of life.
• This week’s Isle of Man Examiner includes 20 pages on the Awards for Excellence. The paper is in the shops now.