July 4th, 2013
Afternoon tea at the House of Lords: HART competition winners describe their experience
In April, Anna Carey, Chris Jaffe, Eloise Turner and John Maier became the winners of our 2013 scholarship competition. Anna and John wrote insightful essays on Burma’s progress towards democracy, whilst Eloise and Chris created thought provoking artwork on the theme Remember Sudan.
On 17 June the winners attended a celebratory tea at the House of Lords. They describe their experience:
Chris: On arrival there was the usual hustle and bustle surrounding the landmark building, people endlessly stopping to take a snapshot of London’s timekeeper. That’s Big Ben to you or I. As I strolled towards St Stephen’s Gate the crowds thinned but the police presence increased. Now we were in business! We were met by Megan at the gate and, having navigated the airport- style security, took our first steps inside the grounds of an institution that I thought I would only ever see the outside of. Walking the halls, two thoughts crossed my mind. One was how the interior wouldn’t look out of place in a scene from Harry Potter (excuse the inner nerd). The second was how glad I was that I didn’t have to walk to halls alone. I would still be trying to find my way out.
Anna: We started the day by witnessing Question Time in the House of Lords. This was perhaps the most surprising element of the day for me as the tradition in the debating was something I hadn’t expected. The way the members address and talk to each other was initially strange and foreign to me, but you could clearly see it is entrenched in British tradition. As a politics student it was fascinating to see our political system in action.
Eloise: My first impression of the House of Lords was that the interior was too grand and removed from the world outside the Houses of Parliament. However, once we had sat down as guests in gallery of the Chamber for Question Time, I discovered that the Lords discussed very relevant issues, with much understanding and consideration of other people’s lives.
Chris: The thing that struck me most about watching the debates was how quick those involved are able to think and formulate an answer to questions they have been posed. It was instantaneous! It was very strange to see people walking in and out of the Chamber, passing around notes on piece of paper, almost like naughty school children!
Eloise: After leaving the Chamber for Question Time we met up with Baroness Cox for tea. This was the highlight of my day (but not because of the lovely tea and cake). It was a brilliant opportunity to talk to Baroness Cox and hear about her experiences in other countries whilst providing humanitarian aid to the people who really need it. I loved to hear about the personal relationships she, and other members of HART have developed with the people they help. In my opinion this is the most valuable aspect to HART, because they understand what people really need. I strongly feel that HART make a valuable contribution to helping people who suffer across the world.
Anna: Having tea in the House of Lords was a surreal but brilliant opportunity.
With an extensive range from teas to cakes and scones this wasn’t your everyday afternoon tea. Being able to talk to Baroness Cox directly about issues in the countries HART deals with and her opinions and advice was an honouring experience. As someone who wants to, one day, work for a charity it was inspiring to hear about both the positive changes and the people working in countries such as Burma and Sudan, as well as stories encapsulating why more work needs to be done.
Chris: Having met Baroness Cox at the London exhibition I knew we were all in for a treat. The tales of her travels to war torn countries, the devastating effects of war on the people she has met and how she lent a hand to help those who need it, were truly heart wrenching. The detail of the accounts, coupled with Baroness Cox’s ability to hold an audience, kept us captivated. I truly believe that Baroness Cox is one of, if not the most, remarkable person I have ever met. Her tireless pursuit of justice and her veracious quest to give a voice to those that truly need it is awe-inspiring. I truly wish there were more people in the world with the same completely selfless views as her, then maybe it would be a much rosier place.
Anna: After tea, Baroness Cox gave us a tour of the inside of parliament and allowed us to sit in the House of Commons to further witness the everyday politics of Britain. Clearly, the day was jam packed with wholly new experiences, but it was truly lovely to meet Baroness Cox, Megan Rowland and the other competition winners; I wish you all well and thank you for my day at the House of Lords!
Eloise: I would love to find out more about how I could contribute to HART, through volunteering or anything else that would help make a difference where it is needed. I would also like a deeper understanding about how the House of Lords and House of Commons work.
If you would like to read this years winning essays, or see the incredible artwork, visit our Scholarship Winners 2013 page.
To find out how you, your school or university can get involved with next years competition visit our competition page or contact email@example.com.
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