05 Apr My first quarter as Lord-Lieutenant
My appointment on 2nd January 2019, following the retirement of Sir Algernon Heber-Percy, began with a deluge of emails and letters from all manner of organisations, asking me to be patron or to be involved in their work. Curiosity about the first woman Lord-Lieutenant appointed in Shropshire prompted Radio Shropshire to interview me live on air, giving me the opportunity to promote the work of the lieutenancy and explain my duties.
Having become a joint patron of the Shropshire, Staffordshire & Cheshire Blood Bikes, I spent a morning at the end of January with two volunteers who explained the amazing work of the motorbike volunteer riders in transporting not only blood but breast milk to various hospitals around the three counties.
A most informative day was spent at Harper Adams University where over 5,000 students specialise in studying the agricultural and rural sector. The university is set on a 635 hectare farm with innovative courses tackling the future development of food production and processing, animal sciences, engineering and land managements. 2020 will see the first intake to its new Veterinary School in conjunction with Keele University.
It has been a steep learning curve getting involved with all aspects of the military. I was warmly welcomed to RAF Shawbury in March and given an entertaining tour of the base which included a ride in a helicopter. The Defence Helicopter Flying School trains aircrew for all three services alongside the Central Flying School which delivers the next generation of helicopter instructors. I have also become a joint Vice-President of the West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association and am looking forward to meeting the four cadets who will accompany me on some of my duties.
A most humbling experience was the afternoon spent at Hope House children’s hospice in Oswestry. Seeing at first hand the dedication of their staff giving care and support to both sick children and their parents was an inspiration.
Pomp and circumstance were very evident in the Legal Service in Ludlow in mid-March for the outgoing High Sheriff of Shropshire, Rhoddy Swire, and a week later at Shrewsbury Castle when the new High Sheriff, Dr Josh Dixey, was installed.
I am very keen to involve, in as many duties as possible, my Vice Lord-Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cuthbert-Brown and my 25 deputies who are spread geographically around the county. We enjoyed a most positive first meeting together in early March to discuss their specific interests for assisting with Lord-Lieutenant duties. I will rely on them to be my eyes and ears for exceptional volunteers and events throughout the county.
The Windsor Consultation from 8th to 10th March was an enormous help to my husband and I. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Windsor Castle and gained much from the talks, tips, words of advice from more senior colleagues and discussions with newly appointed Lord-Lieutenants.