I was first commissioned as a DL in 1999 and now, having reached the age where I transfer to the Retired List, I can reflect on what has been a most uplifting and rewarding experience.
During my time I have made many friendships not only within the Lieutenancy, but across the wider community in the County, both in the professional and charitable sectors and I hope these will continue well into the future.
It has been an honour to represent the Lord Lieutenant at numerous ceremonies and events and in particular, my involvement in the local Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002 and the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, that marked the anniversaries of the accession of Her Majesty to the throne.
I have been particularly delighted to see how the Lieutenancy has become more closely involved with many of our charitable organisations and recognising the excellent work that they perform, by the record number of national awards that have been achieved. I never fail to be amazed at the tremendous efforts and dedication made by so many volunteers, whose work enriches our society and without whom we would be far poorer.
Having spent 40 years in the Fire Service, the last 20 of which were as a Principal Officer in Greater Manchester, I became acutely aware of the many socio-economic problems in the County, as there is a direct relationship with these and the causes of fire, in the same way as there is with crime.
Given this, I was involved with pioneering a number of significant community based initiatives to reduce the number of fires and the distress they cause, which have since been developed and resulted in a major reduction of fire related incidents, by as much as 50% in some areas. Since my retirement from the Service, the Lieutenancy has enabled me to continue my commitment to the community by being involved with a number of significant initiatives.
In 2012, I was privileged to be granted the Office of High Sheriff and during my year I was not only able to witness the work of the judiciary at Crown Court, Coroner and Magistrate levels and support many organisations involved with crime prevention, but also help a number of other worthwhile community activities. This proved to be the highlight of my time as a DL and I look back on it with pride and satisfaction.
(The picture was taken in the Council Chamber at Bolton Town Hall at my Commissioning as High Sheriff.in 2012. L to R. My wife, Elizabeth, me, The Mayor of Bolton Cllr. Noel Spencer and Mayoress Mrs Alice Spencer.)
However, none of my work for the Lieutenancy or the community would have been possible without the support of my colleagues in the Lieutenancy, but in particular my wife, Elizabeth, whose support throughout has been generous and unstinting.