Majority support creating a national holiday on St George’s Day

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St George's Cross flying at the Old Town Hall. Image: Bedford Borough Council
St George's Cross flying at the Old Town Hall. Image: Bedford Borough Council

From the tales of a knight fighting dragons to the huge feasts, the story of St George is as iconic as the white and red flag of England. But like many early saints, the exact details of his life remain a mystery.

However he came to our shores (or didn’t), St George’s Day is celebrated today (23 April) and in Bedford it is marked by the hoisting of the St George’s cross flag outside the Old Town Hall and Borough Hall and with an all-day event at the Castle pub on Newnham Street.

However, a live poll from the Daily Express suggests that there is a groundswell of support for the creation of a new public holiday to mark the date. Over 90% of respondents said they agreed with the creation of a national holiday to mark St. George’s Day.

And a Change.org petition calling on the UK Government to establish a national holiday on St. George’s Day has passed 76,000 signatures.

The topic was included in Labour Party’s manifestos in both 2017 and 2019, but with all of the major political parties under different leadership (some several times over) since the last election, Change.org users are keen to see a renewed commitment to the recognition of the patron saint of England.

John Kelly, a retired banker, began the petition. He said: “Recognizing this day as a national holiday would provide an opportunity for people across England to celebrate their shared history and cultural identity while also acknowledging their unique contribution to the United Kingdom.”

A link to the Change.org petition, with a live signature count, can be found at change.org/StGeorgesDay.

HM Lord-Lieutenant Susan Lousanda

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedrodshire, Susan Lousada, who has been in the role since 2022, said of St George’s Day: “It reminds me of those who we honour, and this goes back to 1940 when King George VI created an award for acts of the greatest heroism or courage in circumstance of extreme danger.

“The George Cross, named after the king, bears the image of St George with the dragon. The image of St George also features on many of the memorials built to honour those killed during the First World War.”

When it comes to more modern-day English heroes, the Lord Lieutenant named the scientist, Alexander Fleming, as her top pick. She said; “A chance event in a London laboratory in 1928 changed the course of medicine when Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist at St. Mary’s Hospital, returned from a holiday to find that on a special plate used to grow bacteria, a mould had contaminated it and produced an area on which the bacteria did not grow.

“After isolating the mould and identifying it as belonging to the Penicillium genus, Fleming obtained an extract from the mould, naming its active agent ‘penicillin’. This marked the discovery of antibiotics, a drug which has saved countless lives.”

Asked to name her favourite English actor, and the Lord Lieutenant said: “Eddie Redmayne – anything starring him and I’m hooked.” But when it comes to a sporting hero, she had no doubt – the one and only Rob Edwards, manager of Luton Town FC. 

“He has taken Luton to the Premier League, and he is my sporting hero (along with the rest of the Luton team).”

 
 
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