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Northampton shines a light on Tibet

Lena Davis and Tibet's connection to our town

It’s been 20 years since Caroline Scattergood and the then Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Ulric Gravesande, together raised the Tibetan flag outside Northampton’s Guildhall.

This immediately became a yearly ceremony for Caroline and subsequent Mayors. In addition, she has also raised the flag at Althorp at the invitation of Earl Spencer and at Castle Ashby at the invitation of Lord Northampton.

This year is particularly special because it is the 60th anniversary since the young Dalai Lama fled Tibet. This followed an uprising by the people who feared he would be killed by the invading Chinese army.

During the past 20 years Northampton has kept the Tibetan cause at the top of the world agenda and Caroline has been a guest, not only of the British Parliament but also at Tibet House and Westminster Hall in London. Caroline has been personally thanked by the Dalai Lama during their meeting in Glasgow a few years back.

So, on this very special year, the Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Tony Ansell, welcomed Mr Sonam Tsering Frasi, The Dalai Lama’s Representative for Northern Europe, the Baltic States and Poland and Mr Sonam Norbu Ratsa, a leading member of the Tibetan Parliamentarians in exile to the annual event at the Guildhall. Also present were representatives from Tibet House and members of the Tibetan Relief fund.

The Guildhall was packed with long-term supporters including many Councillors and previous Mayors including Ulric Gravesande, Cllr Les Marriott and Lee Mason. The Deputy Leader of Northampton Borough Council, Cllr Phil Larratt, officiated and thanked everyone present and those who sent letters of support including such friends as Joanna Lumley and Gloria Hunniford.

Perhaps, most importantly, Tibetans themselves were kept up-to-date by Radio Asia’s telephone interview with Caroline. Amazingly, this can be heard throughout Tibet and the station is, of course, based in the USA in Washington.

Before everyone moved to the front of the Guildhall to hoist the Tibetan flag Sonam Tsering Frasi thanked the people of Northampton for being such wonderful friends and presented Cllr Larratt, the Mayor and Caroline with the traditional Tibetan scarf called a Khata which symbolises purity and compassion. The Mayor presented him with his own tie embroidered with the Tibetan flag.

The ceremony, which included speeches by Caroline, Cllr Larratt and the Mayor, concluded with a prayer composed by the Dalai Lama which is a gift to all of us who would like the world to be peaceful and loving. Perhaps you would like to have this as a gift from the Dalai Lama.

A Precious Human Life

Every day, think as you wake up –

Today I am fortunate to have woken up,

I am alive, I have a precious human life,

I am not going to waste it,

I am going to use

All my energies to develop myself,

To expand my heart out to others,

To achieve enlightenment for

The benefit of all beings.

I am going to have kind

Thoughts towards others,

I am not going to get angry,

Or think badly about others

As much as I can.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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