Author Archives: Floella Benjamin

Baroness Floella Benjamin’s maiden speech

In recent months, LDV has been bringing its readers copies of our new MPs’ and Peers’ first words in Parliament, so that we can read what is being said and respond. You can find all of the speeches in this category with this link. Today, Baroness Benjamin, of Beckenham in the County of Kent, made her maiden speech in the House of Lords, during a debate on the role of the charitable sector in strengthening civil society. Her words are reproduced below.

My Lords, it is an honour and a privilege to address this House for the first time, in a debate that is very close to my heart—I thank the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, for initiating it. I also thank all noble Lords. It is an honour to sit with you in this House.

My family motto is, “Who would have thought?”, because you never know where life’s twists and turns will take you. Mine have taken me on a spiritual journey. I was born in Trinidad and came to Britain as a 10 year-old child 50 years ago. I was spat on and told to go back to where I came from, but how differently things have turned out. I believe that I am now the first Trinidadian female Peer and I follow humbly in the pioneering footsteps of another “Trini”, the late Lord Learie Constantine. I will always remember that memorable day when I was introduced to the House, my family watching over me. I thank my sponsors for being part of that day—my noble friend Lady Scott, and my noble friend Lord Dholakia for his continued support and guidance. I thank noble Lords for welcoming me with such warmth and affection and the numerous members of staff who work so diligently and have taken care of me so efficiently.

I love being part of this establishment, and as I wander round the maze of corridors, soaking up the rich symbolism, I think to myself, surely I have reached the summit of life’s mountain, the zenith of a career stretching over four decades. Like the coat worn by the Garter King of Arms, my life has been a rich tapestry of experiences which have led me to a lifelong mission of ensuring that children’s well-being is at the heart of society’s thinking. That has not always been easy but my philosophy is to keep smiling and never give up. Like other noble Lords I have had to face adversities, but I have used them to make me stronger and more resolute.

Posted in Parliament | Tagged and | 2 Comments

Floella Benjamin – through the round window and into the Lords

On the 28th June 2010 I was introduced into the House of Lords. As I gazed around and soaked up the richness of the symbolism, tradition and magnificent surroundings I thought to myself surely I must have reached the summit of life’s mountain, the pinnacle of a career stretching back over forty years. And as I looked back into the valley of life I couldn’t help thinking of my journey. Like the coat worn by the Garter King of Arms, my life has been a rich tapestry of experiences, some good, some bad, but all significant. I believe that every …

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