A Look Back at Lieutenancy Life

Apr 26, 2017
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Category: Deputies

Greater Manchester Lieutenancy – 1974 / 2017

 When the Greater Manchester Lieutenancy was established in April 1974 it was based and serviced by the Greater Manchester County Council (at that time most Lieutenancies were based on their County Council).

 The nominal Clerk to the Lieutenancy was the Chief Executive of the County Council but they usually deputed a senior member of their staff to undertake the duties of the Office.

 When the ‘shadow’ County Council was set up in 1973 I was asked by the  Chief Executive designate (Sir George Odgen) to assist the Lord-Lieutenant designate (Sir William Downward) in the setting up and eventual running of the Lieutenancy.

 Neither Sir William nor I had any experience of the work but we agreed that we would learn ‘on the job’.

 The staff of the Lancashire and Cheshire Lieutenancies based on the long established Shire County Councils were very helpful in sharing their knowledge and experience, as were the staff of the Duchy of Lancaster Office, and we were ‘ready for action’ on 1st April 1974.

 We knew that the Lord-Lieutenant’s responsibilities, in addition to representing The Queen across all aspects of life in the County, included the organisation of official Visits by Members of the Royal Family to Greater Manchester ; ‘Keeper of the Rolls’ as the senior Magistrate in the County with responsibilities for the appointment of Magistrates (together with the Duchy of Lancaster) ; the appointment of General Commissioners of Income Tax (together with the Lord Chancellors Office) ; and the Presentation of Honours and Awards.

 We were ‘thrown in at the deep end’ as the first Royal Visit was by The Prince of Wales in the early summer of 1974 involving a full day Programme of engagements. This was followed by a number of Visits by Members of the Royal Family that year setting the pattern for a Programme of Visits of at least  twelve every year. In some years eg .2002 Commonwealth Games year, many more.

 A particular highlight in the early years was the Silver Jubilee Visit by The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh in 1977. This two day Visit included a Royal Garden Party in Longford Park, Trafford - the first provincial Royal Garden Party in England.

 Royal Visits were very popular events particularly those of The Queen and the younger Members of the Family. We applied the same detailed Programme preparation to all Visits in liaison with the Host organisation ; the Royal Household ; the Police ; the Local Authority ; and the Press / Media, but  Visits by, for example, the Princess of Wales, attracting huge crowds and international media attention, created additional pressures.

 The Metropolitan County Councils were abolished in 1986 and a new challenge was presented as the Lieutenancy had to be set up as an independent organisation.

 I was asked to take charge of the Office and support for the Lord-Lieutenant and we acquired the rent of a small Office suite in Manchester City Centre. We were supported financially by Government. I was joined by Anne Owens as the Secretarial Assistant and we enjoyed a happy working relationship.

 In 1987, on the retirement of Sir William, Sir John Timmins was appointed Lord-Lieutenant and I continued in Office until I retired when Sir John retired in 2007.

 Although the nature of the work required a 24/7 availability I was glad that my wife Fran could attend many of the Visits and events.

 I thoroughly enjoyed my 34 years in the Lieutenancy Office and was grateful for a challenging yet fulfilling career which gave me, in addition to interesting work, the opportunity to visit Schools, Colleges, Hospitals, Factories, Voluntary Organisations (and Palaces !) meeting so many interesting people.

 Her Majesty appointed me a Member of Her Royal Victorian Order (MVO) in 1989 and a Lieutenant of the Order (LVO) in 2002

 I was happy to be given the opportunity to continue an association and involvement with the Lieutenancy when Sir John appointed me a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) shortly before my retirement as Clerk.

 As a DL I have been pleased to assist Mr Warren Smith, the Lord-Lieutenant in his wide-ranging and demanding role by undertaking some interesting duties particularly attendance at Citizenship Ceremonies involving recently in my Borough of Trafford, the involvement of local Schoolchildren to witness and take part in these important occasions.

 I firmly believe that the Lieutenancies throughout the Country have an important role in all aspects of life of their Counties.