A very merry Yuletide to each and every one of you from myself and my personal assistant, Mrs Dilworth.
This is that special time of year when we look back to the last special time of year and find some way to suggest that this special time of year is more special than the last special time of year.
As you will all recall, this was the year in which your university earned 23rd place in Yacht and Yachting's list of universities "within comfortable distance of a marina". It was also the year in which we were able to eat with a degree of confidence in the university's dining areas following our Catering Department's successful acquisition, after a recount, of a Grade 3 rating from the Food Standards Agency.
But all these achievements and many others that it would take far too long to itemise [Mrs Dilworth - if there's anything else you can dredge up, please stick it in] have only been made possible thanks to the commitment and hard work of people like YOU. Yes, whether you are a humble labourer in the vineyard or lucky enough to enjoy your own drinks cabinet, you can relish the coming two-day Yuletide break in the knowledge that you have done your bit.
However, not everyone has done equal-sized bits, which is why I must now undertake the invidious task of picking out the people who have gone the extra 1,500m. So here they are: this year's Top Poppleton People!
(Deputy Head, Brand Management)
When Ms Edsel first joined us from Bovril plc, she was faced with the urgent task of developing a brand identity that had a more thrusting edge than our existing slogan: "Poppleton - Cheap but not Vulgar". She soon came up with our new and highly praised logo: "Poppleton - Experience the Experience". Georgina is 42 and enjoys outdoor sports.
Dr E.G. Loab
(Head of Neuroscience)
Dr Loab's research findings were rarely off the front pages of our newspapers last year. His discovery of the tiny part of the brain that governs the likelihood of people supporting Millwall was as well received as his discovery of the cortical node responsible for an addiction to chilli chicken masala. In his spare time, Dr Loab enjoys "trying my hand at a spot of tag wrestling".
(Head of Assisted Retirement)
Last year was another busy one for Ms Bodkin as she resorted to increasingly baroque ways of dispensing with non-research-related academic staff. To this end she managed to ensure that more than 120 leading academics applied for but eventually failed to obtain their own jobs. Cecilia likes to relax with a little SM.
(Head of Fabricated Submissions)
Mr Kite is a relatively new recruit but in his short time with us he has already shown his value by helping to fabricate submissions to a wide range of bodies including the QAA, Hefce, Hesa, the HEA and the Leadership Foundation. He also recruited a team of six distinguished novelists to work on our REF impact statement. When he has a minute to spare, Mike likes to make nuisance calls.
I'm sure you'd like to join me in raising a glass to all these splendid servants!
God bless them, everyone!
The Vice-Chancellor and President
(Signed in his absence by Mrs Dilworth)