02 Jul 2019 Spring update
At the beginning of April, I was honoured to present the awards at Shrewsbury Castle to the most outstanding cadets, four confident and personable young men who are a credit to their proud parents. The four cadets will now accompany me at various events throughout the coming year.
I was pleased to be invited to join the Advisory Board of the new University Centre in Shrewsbury, whose courses and degrees are run in conjunction with the University of Chester. Their first undergraduates were awarded degrees in October 2018 and I hope I can make a contribution to the development of this innovative centre.
My first experience of a royal visit to the county took place on 10th April with a visit by The Princess Royal to the Barrow Church of England Primary School followed by the opening of the new RDA Cavalier Centre near Much Wenlock. Princess Anne put everyone at their ease and it was a pleasure to accompany her visit. All the children were delighted to see her.
The following day could not have been more of a contrast: attending the Age UK Shropshire conference in Shrewsbury, entitled ‘Sex and Drugs and Rock & roll – the changing face of old age’. The various speakers and presentations were absolutely fascinating!
My previous years of working as a magistrate in the county means that I am very keen to work closely with the judiciary and I was pleased to attend the opening of the new Shrewsbury Justice Centre on 12th April. The following week I enjoyed a most interesting morning sitting in on inquests at the Coroner’s Court.
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital at Oswestry has a national and international reputation for orthopaedic surgery and musculoskeletal medicine. I was given a tour of the hospital and enjoyed the opportunity to chat to members of staff afterwards.
The volunteers at an innovative service which I visited early one morning inspired me so much that I have offered to be their patron. The Shrewsbury Food Hub was set up in 2016 to rescue surplus food from retailers and redistribute it to local groups and charities. This is a subject I am very much involved with as I have been volunteering at my own local Foodbank for some years. In the three years since its inception, the Food Hub has saved 110 tonnes of good food from going to waste. It has built a team of 105 regular volunteers and partnerships with 22 suppliers.
As part of the local celebrations to mark the centenary of Save the Children, my husband and I enjoyed an evening at Ellesmere with the author Clare Mulley whose biography of Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, is being republished to mark the centenary.
On 7th May I was delighted to meet the newly-appointed Bishop of Shrewsbury, Sarah Bullock, who was making a brief first visit to the county ahead of her consecration as bishop on 3rd July. Another first for our county – our first female bishop – and I will look forward to supporting her ministry.
As a horse lover myself, it was most interesting to be part of the Rider Awareness Day at RAF Shawbury, designed to promote awareness between riders and the helicopter pilots. The biggest piece of advice given: wear high-visibility clothing so you can be seen easily from the air!
During May I was honoured to present the British Empire Medal to three most-deserving Shropshire residents for their unstinting dedication to their local volunteering work. My deputy lieutenants are working hard with workshops and briefings for both The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise and The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to encourage local companies and groups to prepare nominations. I have been humbled by the pleasure these awards give the recipients.
A visit to London on 20th/21st May to the Association of Lord-Lieutenant’s AGM culminated in an invitation to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and the honour of my husband and I being presented to Her Majesty the Queen, and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is a lovely moment for me when I can reward several in the county with an invitation to a Palace Garden Party, it is always a most memorable day and an experience to be treasured.
On 2nd June I was honoured by the Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, to be presented to the people of Shropshire at a Service of Welcome in Shrewsbury Abbey. It was a lovely afternoon and so enjoyable to meet so many people there invited from all faiths and from many different organisations.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to the RAF Cosford Air show on 9th June and watching the many displays, culminating in the most breathtaking display by The Red Arrows. Ear muffs would have been a good addition!
A most poignant service was held on 26th June in St Chad’s Church in Shrewsbury to commemorate those from Shropshire who made the ultimated sacrifice in the Great War. Short services have been held in the church every week since 27th August 2014, with the names read out of those killed during the same week 100 years previously. A very special sculpture was displayed created by the Shropshire Poppy Appeal and the church, working with children from 81 primary schools in the county.
My Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Mark Cuthbert-Brown, accompanied the Countess of Wessex at her visit to Bromfield near Ludlow on 27th June as President of the Royal Smithfield Club. She was given a tour of both the farm and the farm shop and had lunch with her hosts.
Whilst Mark was with the Countess in the south of the county, I was in the north of the county presenting awards to an amazing group of young people at the Tern Valley Scout Group. These youngsters had worked hard over a number of months and years to achieve their awards in scouting. I was so impressed by the dedication of their leaders too.