These are exciting times for Portsmouth.
As we get all enthusiastic about this summer’s America’s Cup World Series and the prospect of the Tour de France coming to the city in 2019, another event that will surely attract the eyes of the world looms large on the horizon.
Early next year the long-awaited 65,000-tonne HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier is due to arrive at the naval base from Rosyth in Scotland – and today sees us report how First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas wants it to be a memorable day.
He’s absolutely right. This is a great opportunity for the people of Portsmouth, its schools and its businesses, to put on a big party and show their pride in the Royal Navy that calls their city its home.
But it’s about much more than that. This will be a symbolic moment, the dawn of a new era of British sea power, plus it will say so much about the modern Portsmouth.
As Adm Zambellas said in his stirring speech to council bosses: ‘This will be the day when the world sees Portsmouth for the city it really is – a great naval town, with a dynamic, diversifying, economy; optimistic about its future and excited about the opportunities ahead.’
To make it a day to remember, people have to be engaged. So we think it’s a great idea that city council leader Donna Jones is to write to all the city’s headteachers, calling on them to allow children to have a half-day off to witness Queen Elizabeth’s arrival.
We’d also love to see firms joining in by flying flags from their windows. And what about putting up bunting in the streets to create a party atmosphere?
We should all want to celebrate the arrival of the mighty Queen Elizabeth, first of the UK’s two new aircraft carriers, and her 679-strong ship’s company.
So, if you can get the time off, prepare to get down to Southsea and Old Portsmouth to wave a flag and cheer her into her home port on what will be an historic day.
Because you can play an important part in making the city a real spectacle for the millions who will tune in around the globe to watch on TV.