Some of you would have read Peter Murray’s evocative and powerful email earlier this week on behalf of the NLA. Like the NLA, Iceni are now fifteen years old. Like the NLA, we officially opened for business in July 2005. On a personal level, my first child was born on the 3rd, we opened our first office in Victoria, London, on the 4th, James Waterhouse (callow planner – now Director and shareholder) and Madi Moraru (eccentric receptionist – now paternal HR manager) started the same day. London won the right to host the Olympics on the 6th, and suffered a strike to its heart on the fateful 7th. It was a week to end all weeks.
The past few days have proven that a week may be a long time in politics, but a day is even longer when an invisible, indiscriminate enemy evades policy, national boundaries, race, class or creed. It has personally had the resonance of that week in 2005, albeit without the good news. And unlike 15 years ago, when Iceni had an infinitesimally small purview, we now have 120 employees across England and Scotland with countless dependencies. We have multiple clients and associates that we care about, and are worried about and thinking of. Many other businesses have shared their approach to home working, remaining open and accessible to clients, and of course, we fully concur with that approach and have applied the same procedures.
Now is fundamentally a time to be careful and responsible, but it also a time to fight for our society, and to think of our collective plight. To fight to keep our country moving, to keep our public services functioning, our businesses open. And it is also a time to show some imagination. To make use of video conferencing to host virtual meetings, be they public inquiries, committees, site visits, CPD events, book clubs, yoga sessions, Friday night drinks, coffee mornings, lunch dates, or to check in on our colleagues, friends or a complete stranger. Because we have all fought too hard to allow our society to be taken away from us.
The last three or four years have been hard for many. We may have felt 2020 was the start of a new chapter. It hasn’t started anywhere near how we would have imagined – and we don’t know how it will end. But we are a country that knows how to take a punch, how to get back up, how to find humour even in our lowest ebb (we have the WhatsApp entries to prove it) and to help our neighbour.
All of us at Iceni promise to do our absolute best to keep things moving; to stay positive, to be flexible, and to help wherever we can. So if you think of anything, or you just want some virtual company, do get in touch.