I had one of those moments in life when I was presented with the flag of the International Co-operative Alliance to mark the Plunkett Foundation rejoining. I suddenly realised that the last time I'd had an ICA flag in my hand I'd been a teenager standing on the roof of a windswept Co-op Department store in Brighton trying to get it to go up the flagpole as part of my Saturday job. There have been one or two changes in life since then.
The General Assembly of the ICA can easily take your breath away given the amazing range of countries there and the diverse forms of co-operatives that they represent. That diversity is due in no small measure to Sir Horace Plunkett who moved the motion at its inaugural meeting that the ICA should welcome all forms of co-operatives, not just consumer co-ops.
It was an exciting time for the movement. A real sense of hope and the election of a new president, Britain's own Dame Pauline Green. I am sure that she will bring tremendous energy to the role and will help the ICA to make full use of the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012 if the UN approves it next month.
Plunkett also had the pleasure of taking its seat on the International Co-operative Agricultural Organisation. To hear a fine presentation on agricultural co-operatives and climate change from James Graham of the Scottish Agricultural Organisations Society made the day worthwhile.
The event taught us that Plunkett still has an important role to play in international co-operation, particularly in the field of rural co-operative development. It may be a long way from the flagpole in Brighton, but the challenge is still as urgent.