So, what have you done for our city today? Every single one of us can be an inspiration
Derby City Council leader Paul Bayliss has made one of a series of Lent speeches at Derby Cathedral. He spoke about why people should be proud of the city and what they could do to make it even better.
IF I asked you what you had done for yourself recently, something positive, and for others, what would you say? So what if I asked what you had done for Derby? Could you answer?
Looking back over the years, every century, particularly the last three, has given the city a reason to be proud and has inspired a generation. It has delivered for the general good, for Derby, and, in many cases, the world.
When people say the city punches above its weight this is part of what we mean.
First, let's think about the importance of the Silk Mill – it's a world heritage site for a reason. It was the first factory in the world, established by John Lombe in the 18th century.
The ground-breaking technology they employed on an industrial scale allowed Derby to rival the Italian silk market and placed our city at the heart of the industrial revolution.
That was just the beginning of things for Derby's success. And it's all down to Derby people making change, and making improvements – people we now regard as inspiring and remember years later.
The city has been home to many inspiring people – take Joseph Wright, for example, one of the most important painters of the 18th-century Enlightenment.
Wright made his reputation with his unique series of paintings on scientific and industrial themes. Today thousands of people visit the Joseph Wright Gallery every year.
I must be honest here. I am not a massive Wright fan but I do respect his endeavours and he has appeared in more James Bond films than I have.
Looking at art more recently, Derby is still at the forefront of discovering new artists and showcasing exhibitions. Just take the Format photography festival, for example. This world-renowned festival is taking place in our very own city and promises to show off our own creativity and expression as well as a wealth of contemporary international photography.
Looking at recent times, we have a radical £50 million leisure strategy to deliver – the most exciting and significant leisure developments the city has seen in 40 years.
The facilities will inspire a new generation of sportsmen and women to embrace healthy lifestyles, to enjoy themselves and possibly become gold medal winners.
When the Olympic torch relay came to the city it attracted more than 80,000 people on to the streets, equivalent to one third of the population of Derby. That's better than Nottingham.
The point here is that as the lead organiser Derby City Council, along with its partners, organised the single largest mass-participation event in the history of Derby for the general and greater good of Derby.
We hope to inspire others to take up sport and be the Olympians of the future.
We are also exploring whether we can host some of the 2015 Rugby World Cup games – again, to inspire people and work for the greater good of the people of Derby.
Percival Willoughby – not a massively well-known name, I know, a physician and pioneer of midwifery, came to Derby and concentrated on saving lives. He passed on his expertise to semi-trained midwives. His teachings were spread even further and published in a book – also an inspiration to others and the greater good of Derby.
We could have the next Mr Willoughby here in Derby, as our school pupils are performing better than ever before, especially in maths and English.
Who here knows who Henry Stevens is? It was given away in the Derby Telegraph a few days ago. He invented the hot dog, turning the snack into a huge money-maker by capitalising on it and licensing sellers at football games.
If that's not inspiring, then I don't know what is, as it goes to show that whatever you are good at, you can make the most of it and do something with it.
I'm now going to talk about a company that we all know of – Rolls-Royce, which calls Derby home, and has done since 1908.
The company has consistently been one of the world's biggest players in aerospace engineering and I for one am proud to live in a city that boasts such expertise – a Rolls-Royce city.
The council is committed to investing in companies like this as it clearly signals that Derby is open for business and creating jobs. So far we've already directly helped to create 460 new jobs in Derby at prestigious contact centre HEROtsc and Pattonair, the aerospace and defence logistics firm.
Further developments have also been made with a range of projects including Friar Gate Studios, where work is under way, construction at Friar Gate Square is almost complete, and planning consent has been approved for the Cathedral Quarter Enterprise Centre.
If the city council does not believe and invest in the city for the greater good, who will? It is the council's job to lead, innovate, encourage, nurture and inspire. We also have a duty to be fair and equitable to all.
You may all now see why HS2 is so important to me. I want this city of ours, the city of my birth, to be the leading city of the East Midlands and second to none, and this is why I was so disappointed when the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the development would have a station at Toton.
We know from high-speed rail experience in other countries that developments like this give massive economic and business benefits for the cities that they serve – and that's what I want for Derby.
The HS2 line would bring huge benefits in terms of job and wealth creation, sustainable transport and improved services for businesses travelling to and from London.
And I want this city to build the trains and the infrastructure for HS2, no matter where the station ends up.
Aside from that, it's not just about the big players – everyone has to start somewhere, and in a time where getting off the ground has never been so difficult, the council is here to help. So if you know someone with an idea, who needs a helping hand, tell them to get in touch.
In the 18th century we had the Silk Mill and the first factory. In the 19th century we had railways and we still are the largest rail manufacturing hub in the UK. In the 20th century we have aerospace and Rolls-Royce. What are we going to deliver for the world in the 21st century?
You don't have to start a business to be inspiring, though. It can be just as much as doing things for others, making positive change and standing up for what's right.
Whether you use your education, invent something, start a business, or just take a chance – that in itself is inspiring, following a dream. We need more people like that.
So earlier, I asked what had you done for yourself and what had you done for Derby.
Now I ask what are you going to do for yourself and what are you going to do for Derby?
I ask that of myself every day. The city council asks itself that question every day.
Remember you're never too young or old to be an inspiration! Be the change you want to see.