14 Sep The Lord-Lieutenant of Shropshire looks back on a busy few months
At the beginning of the school Summer holidays most children relish endless days of blissful freedom unable to believe the time that goes so slowly at that age will ever end, at the other end of the spectrum as a grandparent time goes incredibly quickly and this Summer has totally disappeared with memories of many soggy wet days, but Deputy Lieutenants and I have managed to attend some really successful events.
I’m also really pleased to say that Selina Graham has now joined as a new Deputy Lieutenant. Selina has an amazing dedication to the voluntary sector and in her time as High Sherrif raised over £170, 000 for charity.
The first King’s Birthday Honours were announced in June and the Lieutenancy were delighted to learn that 17 Shropshire citizens had been recognised. When the email arrives with the confirmed list of recipients it is just like getting an exam result, your eyes can’t read fast enough. The large number we received this year reflects the incredible contributions to business, the arts, sport, and to our community and I would like to congratulate them all for their efforts.
In July, the County had a royal visitor as we welcomed Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, Chancellor of Harper Adams University, to meet a group of scholars who will use their studies at the University to benefit communities in Africa and India. Vice-Chancellor, Ken Sloan said that “the visit was a chance to update the Chancellor on some of the excellent projects currently underway at Harper Adams – and to discuss our ambitious plans for the future.”
Both myself and Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Jenny Wynn, have visited RHEINMETALL BAE SYSTEMS LAND (RBSL) in the last couple of months. Jenny was given a very warm welcome when she attended their Engagement Day which was also attended by the Mayor of Telford & Wrekin, representatives from the local colleges and from SSAFA. Visitors received a tour of the site and met with staff and apprentices and had the opportunity to watch a Challenger 2 MBT being driven around the test track.
I was pleased to be able to officially name the new restaurant at the RBSL Telford site and at the same time learn more about RBSL and meet the team. I spent time in the Systems Integrations Facility where the Human Factors team gave me the opportunity to try new displays and controls that are being developed for Challenger 3 as well as seeing the progress of the Boxer Mission Module. It was absolutely fascinating.
In July, I was delighted to visit Bishops Castle with Deputy Lieutenant Fiona Rogers-Coltman for the 450th anniversary of the granting of the Charter by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1573. It was wonderful to see the community come together to celebrate the anniversary of such an historic event for the town and Bishops Castle should be basking in a warm glow of satisfaction having put together the most wonderful Charter celebrations. I felt under dressed in the crowd of traditional Elizabethan costumes. I dearly hope they win the battle to keep their 16 bed Community hospital.
This time of year is always busy with awards presentations around the County and in July Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Jenny Wynn attended Derwen College, last year winners of a Queen’s Award for Enterprise. She joined the students celebrating achieving an impressive 72 Bronze, Silver and Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards.
Jenny also visited Hindlip Hall where 30 West Mercia Police officers received long service and good conduct medals and ten members of staff received certificates of long service at a ceremony.
The awards, were presented by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire Edward Harley OBE, Vice Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire Jenny Wynn and recipients were personally congratulated by Acting Chief Constable Alex Murray.
Along with my newly appointed cadets, I attended a lunch hosted by the Coldstream Guards Association. Shropshire’s own Garrison Sgt Major Stokes was at the lunch and the cadets had chance to meet him and other members of the Coldstream Guards. It has been fascinating to learn about ceremonial events of the last couple of years, including Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and the coronation of King Charles III, that GSM Stokes has co-ordinated, we were well looked after and had a delicious lunch at Wroxeter Hotel.
A highlight for myself and Shropshire in general is the Shrewsbury Flower Show. Whilst not without drama this year (which was handled well by all involved, particularly Shrewsbury Town Crier Martin Wood whose loud, clear voice gave instructions to empty The Quarry), the event delivered wonderful stands, garden displays and attractions. I bought a new mac and so now await more downpours in eager anticipation of being totally dry and cozy. The Quarry really is an atmospheric location and lends itself well to the perfect carnival feeling. As guests of Shropshire Society in London we were enthralled to hear Garrison Sgt Major Stokes talk about the build up to the funeral and then subsequently the Coronation. Night rehearsals and no sleep is normal. He and his girlfriend had a special code to use on the telephone for when Her Majesty died. On hearing the words “vegetable lasagne” she was to take the dog and leave London as preparations for these State Ceremonial events are full-on. Sue got the message but didn’t stick to the agreed format and instead kept Vern supplied with sandwiches, coffee and support, which probably contributed towards the absolutely magnificent faultless military processions on both occasions.
I was also pleased to meet Will Mowbray and his girlfriend Molly Marr, he was a recipient of The Capt Webb Medal from The Shropshire Society in London. An honour bestowed for showing extreme courage. Will and Molly helped to save Dan Walker from drowning in the river Severn, Will showed me scars on his hands from clinging in desperation to the bank that was laced with broken glass.
One of the final events of the summer was attending the Albrighton Trust, Moat and Gardens to officially open their Coronation Garden. The Albrighton Trust, Moat and Gardens, designed around the remains of a 13th century fortified moated manor house in Albrighton, offers educational and recreational activities for people disadvantaged by physical and learning disabilities or ill-health. The new garden will offer extra community space for anyone wanting to visit. What a wonderful facility they have created, the serenity of the lovely gardens and coarse fishing in the moat makes it a spot to visit or even consider volunteering at.
My best wishes to you all.