04 Oct 2019 Summer update
July began with a short visit to an initiative by Shropshire Magistrates in the community entitled ‘Crucial Crew’, presenting a scenario to school children to try and get the message across to them that a criminal record is not good news. The remainder of the day was highly entertaining as I had been asked to role-play as a ‘royal visitor’ to the county to assist in training police protection officers. I only hope there are not too many disappointed Salopians when they realise their photographs are not of the genuine product!
A very worthy winner of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in our county was The Forge Urban Revival at Oakengates, which addresses social care and mental health needs. I was honoured to present their award and meet volunteers; many of them had been given help themselves by The Forge and were now in a position to give help to others. I am learning that there is normally one person who galvanises and enthuses a wonderful team like this.
I attended the 110th Newport Show on 13th July as a guest of the Newport & District Agricultural Society – a traditional country show with cattle, sheep and horse judging combined with agricultural machinery and trade stands, run by a team of volunteers. They are so proud of what they achieve when so many local shows can’t make ends meet.
The afternoon of 14th July was spent at RAF Cosford attending the Field Day of air cadets and presenting some of the trophies. It’s difficult to remember what it is like to have a hot day but it was. One or two passed out with the heat so the first aiders were able to practise their skills too.
I attended a lovely awards evening at Hodnet Hall for St John Ambulance volunteers and members on 16th July. It must be wholly rewarding because many of them were being recognised for long service.
Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra was visiting her retired lady-in-waiting Meriel Afia over a weekend in July and presented the Pride in the Community Awards, she also opened the new café. The Princess delighted everyone she met and my husband and I were invited to join her at Plowden House for dinner.
The Queen’s Award for Enterprise was awarded to a Shropshire company this year: Protolabs from Telford. Their award was one of 129 given for International Trade. From just three employees in 2005, Protolabs has created more than 430 jobs in Telford and more than 2,300 in manufacturing plants in the USA, Japan and across Europe. It is now the world’s fastest digital manufacturing source for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts. It was a fascinating visit and I was so pleased to present the award to their delighted Vice-president Bjoern Klaas.
Two days later I was equally delighted to present a QAVS award to a small volunteering group in the market town of Wem who call themselves GOAL – Getting Older Adults on-Line. They teach computing skills to the elderly so that they can keep in touch with their families, order shopping online and generally use modern technology. They have the persistence needed to encourage the elderly to enjoy computers and even make multiple visits to their homes to make sure they understand.
I spent an afternoon presenting Pony Club 90th Birthday celebrations in Telford and that evening joined the Telford Street Pastors out on patrol through the early hours, seeing how they look out for those living on the streets and the young people coming out of nightclubs who might be rather worse for wear. They hand out hundreds of pairs of flip-flops to young girls, and I was horrified to hear that they have to protect some of the drunk girls from known predators who lurk waiting to take advantage of their inebriated prey.
Another QAVS presentation took place at Shrewsbury Castle on 8th August to the Shropshire War Memorial Association,a small group of people who get their hands dirty cleaning and helping to restore the county’s war memorials, or assisting folks who want to find their ancestors on memorials. I now understand the emotions felt by those who have relatives who were not properly recognised for their contribution to the wars.
Friday 9th August was the first day of the Shrewsbury Flower Show at which I was a guest of the Shropshire Society in London. The show has been held almost every year since 1875 and is one of the longest-running shows of its kind, managed and organised with the help of over 100 volunteers.
I attended the Citizenship ceremony in Telford, presenting their certificates and commemorative paperweights to people from a variety of ethnic groups. I hope I never have to answer some of the questions they get asked as part of the mandatory ‘knowledge of life in the UK’ test.
The following day I presented a gift to a retiring magistrate and then met two representatives of the County Air Ambulance Trust to hear about their work and fundraising.
I visited the Shrewsbury offices of the Red Cross on 9th September to meet volunteers and to hear about their difficulties in recruiting new volunteers. The following day I attended a meeting in Shrewsbury of the team from Young Addaction which left me an emotional wreck. They told me about the many youngsters being exploited by the ‘county lines’ teams of drug dealers and how they are trying to prevent the exploitation and abuse of such children. I have been able to discuss these issues with our Council Chief Executive and glad to hear there are no plans to cut funds.
On 12th September I was invited to attend the deliberations of the CVS departmental Sift Committee at the Cabinet Office to assess the hundreds of citations for individuals proposed for an MBE or BEM. It was very humbling to read about the work of so many volunteers from all over the country. From there I returned to Shropshire to a dinner for my Deputy Lieutenants. I am hoping to make this an annual event where we can get together to discuss the various challenges faced by the county.
We held our first exploratory recce in Bridgnorth on 17th September, prior to the visit of The Duke of Gloucester in October.
The Autumn Briefing for the West Midland Reserve Forces and Cadet Association was held at RAF Cosford, followed later by this year’s graduation ceremony at Harper Adams University and also Shrewsbury University.
I attended the swearing-in of new magistrates for Shropshire; it is a concern that so few applicants are coming forward. I suggest that we revert to old tactics and get current magistrates to approach someone they believe could make an ideal magistrate and encourage them to apply. There is nothing like being told by someone that they think you could make a good job of something.
One of my DLs has been instrumental in raising awareness of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in the county by organising workshops to help identify likely candidates and assist them with their applications. We are planning to hold similar workshops to promote county applications for The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise, following on from the success of Protolabs this year and we are also setting up a new committee for nominations of individuals’ honours.
August was quiet and lulled me into a sense of being in control. I didn’t believe that I would ever enjoy seeing an ‘inbox’ full of junk that can immediately be deleted and make you feel as if you are achieving at speed!