“IF I set you a quiz and one of the questions was, “What is the highest structure in Ely?” you would probably ask whether you had been given the right quiz. That is far too easy for King’s Ely pupils. Surely Mr Marshall can come up with more challenging questions than that. However, as you know, questions can be interpreted in more than one way.
“For my quiz, I would be giving the mark to anybody who said that the flagpole on top of Ely Cathedral is the highest structure. It is a construction in its own right. Unless there is a flag flying, the flagpole up on top of the West Tower hardly gets noticed, and yet there it is sitting at the highest point for miles around. It has to be incredibly robust and is secured with tension chords that are put under extreme pressure when the Fen wind blows.
“I noticed the flagpole the other day when I was standing next to the Cathedral because there was a man working on it, as you can see in the picture. The Cathedral confirmed for me that the pole was undergoing its annual inspection. The bravery of the man to perform this role was considerable: something I had never considered before. Seeing this work being done made me think about all the jobs that people do that can go unnoticed but make our lives safer and better. There will always be people who are more in the spotlight than others and we applaud all that they do but we must always remember the roles that happen routinely that can be taken for granted.
“I can guarantee that a flagpole falling off the tower and crashing to the ground would make the local and probably national press. It is kept safely in place because of the workmen who inspect it and so it is good to give this man a moment in the spotlight.”