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A close up picture of a poppy

I was pleased to be able to mark Armistice Day with a brief ceremony of Remembrance in the Plaza. First year student of music Charlotte Ward, our excellent trumpeter, played the Last Post and Reveille with great skill and sensitivity. It was good to be joined by so many friends and colleagues. I remain very grateful to Charlotte for suggesting that we mark the occasion in 1918 when the guns fell silent after four blood drenched years of conflict.

This was supposed to be the war to end all wars. Plainly it was not, and the history of the twentieth century teaches us much about the risks inherent in punitive reparations and the rushed creation of new nation states.

Later in the week, I was additionally pleased to host from South College the first in a series of Durham Global Lectures for DU alumni. The speaker was John Ryley, Head of Sky News and a proud Durham graduate (Hild Bede, 1981-1984). I have known John for many years and I originally invited him to visit South College, meet students and join us at a College Formal. He still plans to do this when Covid permits. On this occasion we decided to go ahead with a virtual lecture. I was in my office. John was at Sky News HQ. The audience were in the UK and abroad. It went well and when he had delivered his excellent lecture: ‘Covid-19: An Equinox for News', I spent a happy half hour interviewing John Ryley about the present and future of journalism. John has won three BAFTA’s and an EMMY. Under his leadership Sky has won the Royal Television Society’s News Channel of the Year Award on twelve occasions. Suffice it to say that he had good answers to all my questions. 

More good news came with confirmation of the Government's plans to allow students to travel home for Christmas. Next week we will share further details of these and the testing plans that we hope will allow you to travel safely and enjoy Durham more completely next term. There is a long way to go, but the first rays of hope are apparent. With luck they will grow brighter soon. 

At my News and Current Affairs seminar on Friday, we discussed an edition of BBC Radio 4's World Tonight. Those who listened in shared my respect for this distinctive programme's commitment to original long form reporting. They recognised radio's power to use sound to bring listeners closer to a story. They enjoyed World Tonight's commitment to ethical reporting that speaks truth to power. World Tonight is broadcast at 10pm each weekday evening. Many students find it a rewarding source of thoughtful and inspiring journalism.