My wife and I are bursting with pride after attending our son’s graduation last week (well done, Sean), but we have also been boosted by a big dose of hope.

He now has a degree in professional musicianship from the University of Sussex/British Institute of Modern Music, awarded in the literally awesome setting of Bristol Cathedral.

If the venue wasn’t inspiring enough, during the ceremony we also got to hear some stirring speeches by college lecturers, dignitaries, guests and the Dean of Bristol.

They were all on the same theme: nobody gets a degree without brains, talent, dedication and sheer hard graft, but anyone who completed a course during the Covid-19 epidemic deserves extra praise.

It got me thinking about all those others who have had something to be proud of in the last couple of years - and there are a lot.

I’m not just talking about the obvious, like NHS and care staff, and all the other key workers who heroically kept the country going while the politicians struggled to do the right thing.

Those same politicians already seem to have forgotten the superhuman contribution of so-called ‘ordinary’ low-paid people, judging by their own current preoccupation with lining their own pockets.

So I doubt they also have much respect for what the rest of us have been through.

Outside of wartime, I can’t remember the general population having more reason to be proud of their part in overcoming challenges.

For those of us who made it through relatively unscathed and are enjoying a return to some semblance of normality, the challenge, now, is to make sure we learn from the experience, but also show respect for those who are still struggling and are still vulnerable.

We have a number of friends who are still trying to come to terms with what happened, and some are finding the road back to normality a long and difficult one.

But just because they are finding it hard, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be proud of themselves.

Back at the graduation speeches, the principal of the college moved on to another theme.

She said she hoped that, as well as feeling proud, the graduates would go out into the world and be nice.

But not too nice.

It is up to them, she said, to take a stand against prejudice and injustice, whenever they encounter it.

Funnily enough, our son recently came home with a story of how he had stepped in to stop a self-important, entitled shopper belittling an innocent shop assistant in a supermarket.

I always maintain that you really only have to teach your children one thing, and that is respect.

So although they might have to be told to be proud of their achievements, I think the younger generation already understands the need to contradict the growing disrespect by certain older people.

A degree during a pandemic is one thing, but it fills me with even more pride and hope to see young people excelling in the University of Life.