As read by the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent

LORD-LIEUTENANT’S NEWSLETTER – JULY 2018

LORD-LIEUTENANT’S NEWSLETTER – JULY 2018

It has been wonderful to see so many people from Gwent taking part in events around the Royal family this year.  In addition to the usual busloads of people who went to Buckingham Palace Garden Parties this year, we were also allocated places for a number of (mostly younger) people to attend the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.   For most of us, just watching that extraordinary event was a remarkable experience;  but for those lucky few who actually saw it take place in Windsor, it was something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

And the Royal family have been in Gwent on a number of occasions in recent months.  The Princess Royal was in Cwm and Abertillery in January, and again in Cwmbran in July;  and The Prince of Wales has conducted no less than 8  visits in Gwent so far this year.  One of those visits was to the Celtic Manor Resort, where His Royal Highness named the second Severn crossing ‘The Prince of Wales Bridge’.  His speech on that occasion is worth reading, at https://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/speech/speech-hrh-prince-wales-reception-celebrate-renaming-prince-wales-bridge

Within the Lieutenancy, we welcome 5 new deputy lieutenants:  Dame Claire Clancy, who was formerly Chief Executive of the Welsh Assembly;  Her Honour Judge Helen Mifflin;  Susan Gwyer-Roberts, lately head teacher of Caldicot School;  Brigadier Russ Wardle, formerly Commander of the Army in Wales;  and Edward Watts, whose achievements and voluntary  work are too many to list here.  These five join the existing distinguished DLs who collectively perform a variety of civic duties on behalf of The Queen and the Lieutenancy.

We are all standing by for this year’s Remembrance Day – one of the most important days in the Lieutenancy’s calendar.  2018 has added significance:  not only does Remembrance Sunday also fall on Armistice Day this year, but it also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War.  It is entirely appropriate that The Queen should be represented at as many Remembrance parades and services as possible throughout Gwent. 

I am looking forward keenly to next academic term, when we begin a series of talks to schoolchildren at all levels (primary, secondary and college) on the role of the Monarchy in the UK.   This coincides with the period that the UK is chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government group:  both the Commonwealth and The Queen provide an opportunity to look from a slightly different perspective at a range of subjects in the national curriculum.  The pilot sessions we have held to date have been very positive, and I look forward to rolling out the scheme in September.

As ever, I have been awed and humbled by the people and groups who have received national recognition for their selflessness.  11 people from Gwent received Orders of the British Empire at various grades in the Queen’s Birthday List, and further 8 in the last New Year List.  Anyone can nominate someone for an honour – the process is pretty straightforward, and is set out very clearly at https://www.gov.uk/honours.  It is such a special way to recognise the extra contribution people make to their community.  Please have a look at the check list at http://www.lordlieutenantofgwent.co.uk/awards-garden-parties/ for all the opportunities for rewarding exceptional achievements.

FIRST PERSON: Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE, the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent

FIRST PERSON: Brigadier Robert Aitken CBE, the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent

Click here to view the South Wales Argus’ First Person article on the Lord Lieutenant of Gwent

The Lord Lieutenant’s Newsletter 13/10/17

The Lord Lieutenant’s Newsletter 13/10/17

This time of year naturally makes us think about remembrance – perhaps especially in this period of the centenary of the Great War.  A number of new or updated memorials have been erected – at Langstone, for instance, and at Deri – to recognise the names of members of the community who might have been overlooked.  In Gwent, Remembrance services for members of the Armed Forces take place throughout the county in November – many of them attended by Deputy Lieutenants or the Lord Lieutenant.  And of course in Gwent it’s not just about members of the Armed Forces:  we have, at Senghenydd, a most poignant memorial to the men who died in the worst mining accident in British history, 104 years ago this October.  All those who made such sacrifices on our behalf are much in our thoughts at this time of year.

We hosted two Royal visits in July:  The Duke of Kent, who took the salute from The Rifles as they exercised their freedom of Chepstow;  and then later from The Prince of Wales to Llancaiach Fawr near Caerphilly.  The sun shone on both occasions, the crowds turned out in good numbers, and both were very happy occasions.  We have further visits in the diary for both The Prince of Wales and The Princess Royal during the winter.

One of the great joys of being Lord Lieutenant is discovering groups and organisations who are quietly getting on with their business, but doing wonders in their local community.  One such is the Machen Academy of Dance – doubtless well-known to residents of Bedwas and the surrounding area, but (I confess) completely unknown to me until they invited me to visit.  Here is a vibrant, well-run youth organisation in the very finest tradition of local clubs.  Children queue up to join;  all types of dance are catered for;  and yet the purpose of my visit was to present two of the dancers with their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Awards – awards they had achieved through the Machen Academy of Dance.  Well done MAD!

On the subject of youth organisations, it was my great privilege to spend some time during the Summer on camp with Gwent & Powys Army Cadet Force.  The Army Cadets are one of a number of uniformed youth organisations who operate in Gwent, and which offer activities for teenagers that are not only fun for the kids, but which also set them up well as citizens.  So the Army Cadets do all the running around in the woods you would expect cadets to do;  but they also inculcate qualities like self-discipline, moral courage, obedience, keeping your clothes neat and tidy – qualities which some people would like to see a little more of in society today.  And there are plenty of other uniformed youth organisations doing just as good work:  the Scouts and Guides, the Police and Fire cadets, St John’s Ambulance, Naval and Air Force cadets, and the Church Lads & Church Girls – all nurturing young people in a safe but fun environment.  It is always a privilege for me to see them in action.

Below is a gallery of photos from the last quarter, click on each one to view the full sized image.

Prince of Wales visit

Prince of Wales visit

Prince of Wales visit

Prince of Wales visit

Machen Academy

Machen Academy

War memorial Deri

War memorial Deri

Army camp summer 2017

Army camp summer 2017

Duke of Kent visit to Chepstow

Duke of Kent visit to Chepstow

Langstone memorial

Langstone memorial

The Lord Lieutenant’s Newsletter 31/07/17

After a record number of Royal visits in the first part of the year (The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Cambridge, The Duchess of Cambridge and The Princess Royal, all within a fortnight), the past few months have been largely free of Royal visits.  The Prince of Wales will be back in Gwent shortly, however – so keep an eye on www.royal.gov.uk for details.

After the bumper crop of honours and awards for people living in Gwent in the New Year’s Honours List, it was a great delight to see so many more people honoured in the Queen’s Birthday List in June.  Two Dames (Claire Clancy and Hilary Boulding) in one List must be something of a record!  It was particularly gratifying to see Ron Jones, 100 years young and still actively selling poppies for the Royal British Legion, honoured with a BEM; but congratulations are due to all those recognised in this way.  How lucky we are to have a system like this, that allows anybody to nominate someone they think is worthy of recognition by The Queen.

This period also saw a significant focus on our Armed Forces, with Gwent once again hosting Wales’ national Armed Forces Day in Caerphilly.  The support from local people was exceptional, and much credit is due to Caerphilly County Borough Council for their support to this prestigious event; but similar events took place all over Gwent, many of them preceded by flag-raising ceremonies at the start of Armed Forces Week.  Serving and former servicemen and women take huge comfort from this recognition, by the general public, of the sacrifices they were and are prepared to make on behalf of the nation.

May is the month for Buckingham Palace Garden Parties, and again it was fantastic to see no less than 60 people from Gwent attending.  Invitees from Gwent covered a wide range of people, most of them individuals who had given that little bit extra to their local communities.  I’ve been twice now to a Garden party, and they’re really special occasions.

I have personally been much involved in the past few weeks with the selection process for new magistrates in Gwent.  Many people don’t know that magistrates (Justices of the Peace, to give them their more formal title) are volunteers, who give their time for free out of a sense of public spiritedness and duty.  The selection process is rigorous, but it’s a most rewarding part-time role.  Our British system of justice could not operate without our magistrates, and we all owe them a big debt of gratitude.

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