Sunrise 11 May 2021 - Matthew Kempson
I initially signed up to be a Vigil quite simply to take advantage of the wonderful view across my adopted home of Hull. As an incomer I’ve grown to develop a love of the city, its history and its architecture. It was such a wonderful opportunity to survey the city, to create panoramic perspectives and closed-down portrait views – to piece together the city and its buildings – east and west.
In the run-up to my Vigil I was reminded that this is the 80th anniversary of the Hull Blitz – two days of intense bombardment that contributed to Hull being the UK’s second most bombed city. Whilst standing over the city, I thought of the Air Raid Precautions wardens who took vigil 80 years ago, sounded the alarm and helped, as best as possible, to keep their city safe. I thought too of the devastation and loss, and how Hull overcame this over time to look forward, rebuild and renew. This was so evident in the view – bombed sites creating opportunities for innovation and creativity. We can see this from above – in Hull College, for example and more recently, in the Siemens Gamesa site.
Initially, I struggled with the idea of the Vigil. For me, I imagined a 24/7 continuous watch over the city. On reflection, however, I think sunrise and sunset is about right for a place like Hull. It does not need any more of a Vigil watching over it. It’s a city that is fiercely independent – that forgotten ‘North-east coastal town’ that is so used to looking after itself, its communities and its residents.
So finally, as I reflect on my Vigil I will remember the views, the buildings, the communities and the people below. I will think of them rising and going about their business as they start their day afresh – and quite simply, and humbly, I wish them well in their endeavours as they continue to shape Hull in their own image.