Shire Matters with Mark Speakman: Happy Father's Day

Mark Speakman and his family during Fathers Day 2020.
Mark Speakman and his family during Fathers Day 2020.

"Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad." (Anne Geddes)

During these extraordinarily difficult times, maintaining connections with family is more important than ever. These relationships are often central to our lives and well-being. In moments of fear or distress, it's our family we turn to for comfort and for hope.

This Sunday is Father's Day - an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the invaluable contribution that fathers, grandfathers and other male carers and role models make to their families and their communities. It's often said that children are our future, that their values and aspirations will shape tomorrow's world. It's the sacred duty of a parent not just to raise a child, but to inspire a citizen; to instil the courage, commitment and hope upon which our world's peace and prosperity depends. Perhaps that's why photographer Anne Geddes remarked that "it takes someone special to be a dad".

Father's Day means different things to different people. For many, it's a celebration of the unique connection a father shares with his child. Fathers are teachers, coaches and nurturers. They make sacrifices to give their children care and opportunity. But we also have to remember that for others, the day may provoke difficult feelings of loss or regret. Please be especially mindful of the need to extend support and kindness to those in your life who may be struggling or grieving this Father's Day.

COVID restrictions may mean you're physically distanced from family, but this doesn't prevent virtual celebrations or other special gestures. You could, for example, make a video tribute, host an online game night or prepare an IOU coupon for an activity to enjoy together when lockdown lifts. Socks are great, but make 2021 the year to unleash your creativity! A caring act, no matter how small, goes a long way - in good times or bad.

Whether you're a son, a daughter, a father or a carer, whether you'll be cherishing old memories this Sunday or creating new ones, I wish you all a Happy Father's Day