Cyprus Mail
Opinion

Celebrating St Andrew’s Day in Scotland’s special year

By Rick Todd, British High Commissioner

There are strong links between Scotland and Cyprus and as Scotland’s national day is celebrated today, anyone passing the British High Commission in Nicosia will notice a subtle change.

The red, white and blue of the Union Flag has been replaced with a simple blue field with a bold white cross running from its corners. It is the Saltire. The cross of St Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland, whose feast day is marked by Scots across the world.

St Andrew, or Ayios Andreas, is also the Patron saint of Cyprus and many readers will be named after him.

Today, we take the opportunity to celebrate the best of Scotland and all that it and its people have contributed to the world. Its history and heritage: a country rich in culture, creativity and commerce; home to some of the most breath-taking scenery imaginable.

The 12 months since the last St Andrew’s Day have been remarkable. It has been a year when Scotland has welcomed the world, hosted two great international sporting events and when the Scottish people determined their own future.

2014 has been, unofficially at least, the year of Scotland. And what a year it has been!

The Commonwealth Games brought 6,500 athletes to Glasgow. They came from 71 nations and territories, representing a third of the world’s population, to compete in 17 sports over 11 glorious days. Over a million people filled Glasgow’s sporting arenas, and over a billion more were willing on the athletes from their homes. Cyprus brought home eight medals in total including two Gold medals.

And just when we thought that the agony and ecstasy of sport had reached its climax, the eyes of more than half a billion viewers in 183 countries turned to Gleneagles as Europe’s and America’s best golfers battled it out for the glory of winning the Ryder Cup.

2014 was also the year that the United Kingdom demonstrated that values aren’t just something we talk about abroad – we live by them at home.

In a defining moment in British history, and by a decisive majority, the people of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, one of the most durable and successful political unions ever seen. Who would have thought that politics could be more exciting than sport?

In a world where separatism all too often leads to conflict, the Scottish referendum demonstrated Britain’s confidence in her own democratic institutions and processes.

A free and open debate electrified the nation; a peaceful, lawful and democratic vote drew admiration from around the world; and, with a record turnout, the settled will of the Scottish people was determined.

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