HM Queen Elizabeth II delivers her annual address in the Christmas message to the nation and the Commonwealth.
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BAND PLAYS: God Save The Queen
There was a time when British Olympic medal winners
became household names
because there were so few of them.
But the 67 medals at this year's Games in Rio
and 147 at the Paralympics
meant that the GB medallists' reception at Buckingham Palace
was a crowded and happy event.
Throughout the Commonwealth, there were equally joyful celebrations.
Grenada, the Bahamas, Jamaica and New Zealand
won more medals per head of population
than any other countries.
Many of this year's winners spoke of being inspired by
athletes of previous generations.
Inspiration fed their aspiration,
and having discovered abilities they scarcely knew they had,
these athletes are now inspiring others.
A few months ago, I saw inspiration of a different kind
when I opened the new Cambridge base
of the East Anglian Air Ambulance,
where Prince William works as a helicopter pilot.
It was not hard to be moved by the dedication
of the highly skilled doctors, paramedics and crew,
who are called out on average five times a day.
But to be inspirational, you don't have to save lives or win medals.
I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people
doing extraordinary things -
and good neighbours -
unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.
They are an inspiration to those who know them,
and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa,
from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
She once said, "Not all of us can do great things.
"But we can do small things with great love."
This has been the experience of two remarkable organisations,
The Duke of Edinburgh's Award
and the Prince's Trust,
which are 60 and 40 years old this year.
These started as small initiatives
but have grown beyond any expectations,
and continue to transform young people's lives.
To mark my 90th birthday,
volunteers and supporters of the 600 charities
of which I have been patron came to a lunch in The Mall.
Many of these organisations are modest in size
but inspire me with the work they do.
From giving friendship and support to our veterans,
the elderly or the bereaved,
to championing music and dance,
providing animal welfare,
or protecting our fields and forests,
their selfless devotion and generosity of spirit
is an example to us all.
When people face a challenge
they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath
to find courage or strength.
In fact, the word "inspire" literally means "to breathe in".
But even with the inspiration of others,
it's understandable that we sometimes think
the world's problems are so big that we can do little to help.
On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice...
..but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness
can be bigger than we imagine.
At Christmas, our attention is drawn to the birth of a baby
some 2,000 years ago.
It was the humblest of beginnings, and his parents, Joseph and Mary,
did not think they were important.
Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life
and never travelled far.
He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong.
And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching
and find in him the guiding light for their lives.
I am one of them because Christ's example helps me
see the value of doing small things with great love,
whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.
The message of Christmas reminds us
that inspiration is a gift to be given as well as received,
and that love begins small but always grows.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.
BAND PLAYS: A Christmas Intrada by Alfred Reed