The Speeches


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First of all, I'd like to thank Neroli and Bob for welcoming us all here today. Michelle and Ben really wanted a small, personal wedding, and Neroli and Bob's offer to have it in their home has made it a warm, happy and very special occasion.

What can I say about my daughter without sounding soppy?

I'd always wanted a daughter, and when Michelle was born, Peter, who was at the birth, shouted “It's a boy!” then “No, it's a little girl!” when he realised that what he'd been looking at with great admiration and amazement was really far too long to be anything other than the umbilical cord!

And so I was lucky enough to get my wish, in more ways than one – not just any daughter, but one who shared so many of my interests – in Dutch salted liquorice, gooey desserts, and especially in literature. We've enjoyed many happy years immersed in the world of books – first when I read to her as a baby, then when she decided to start reading by herself, long before she went to school, and later by recommending books we've enjoyed to one another.

We've always been on the same wavelength in many ways, but it's been a great joy to me to see Michelle develop her own interests as she grew up, too. In fact, one of her good points is that she's always been open to new experiences, whether that meant trying new foods, learning new skills in the workplace, or making friends with people from all different walks of life.

I've always been enormously proud of her, not just of her success in everything she's attempted, both academically and in the business world, but also because of her thoughtful and caring nature. As far as that's concerned, she's a perfect match for Ben, who combines his strong work ethic with a warm concern for others.

Shel and Ben have been together for nearly seven years now, and far from feeling the so-called “Seven-Year Itch”, have only grown closer together during that time. Today's ceremony has proved what both families and friends have known all along – these two were meant to be together.

Peter and I wish them all the happiness they so richly deserve.