Sir Warren Smith Retires as Lord-Lieutenant

On the 4th July Sir Warren Smith KCVO KStJ JP retired after serving for 15 years as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester.

Sir Warren Smith

Sir Warren was appointed as Justice of the Peace in 1983, was made a Deputy Lieutenant in 1995 and was selected as High Sheriff for Greater Manchester in the shrieval year 1997/98 before becoming the Lord-Lieutenant on the 24th June 2007, succeeding Col Sir John Timmins. Social exclusion had always been an interest for him, and he had chaired or had been a trustee of national, regional, and local organisations dealing with drug, alcohol and mental health problems, community relations, poverty and justice. He maintained an interest in these areas throughout his time as Lord-Lieutenant, particularly community relations and so it is no surprise that he developed the Lieutenancy to be as diverse and as inclusive as possible. Through active recruitment the Lieutenancy now reflects the cultural mix of Greater Manchester and has a gender balance.

Sir Warren with Sir John and James Timpson during a visit to present their Queens award for Enterprise
Sir Warren with Sir John and James Timpson during a visit to present their Queens Award for Enterprise in 2019

Sir Warren became the patron or president of over 40 organisations whilst Lord-Lieutenant, and he will continue to work with several of them during retirement. His active interest in the work of these organisations along with his ideas to increase the visibility of the Lieutenancy and to contribute to the civic life of Greater Manchester kept him extremely active. For the years 2008-2021 he completed over 5200 engagements or meetings which is an average of 377 per year.

In addition to his engagements, he steered the Lieutenancy to promote the Queens Award for Voluntary Service which led to Greater Manchester having the most nominations and awards in the UK for last 5 years. Under his leadership the Lieutenancy has delivered several pilot programmes for the Honours and Appointments Office in Cabinet Office to increase the quantity and quality of Honours nominations especially for underrepresented groups. This culminating in the best Honour’s Lists in the past few years since Greater Manchester was created in 1974. The most recent lists have also had a much higher representation of ethnic minority groups than the national picture and Greater Manchester average. In the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020, 32% of recipients in Greater Manchester were from an ethnic minority background.

Sir Warren Smith greets The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh at Manchester Airport
Sir Warren greets HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh at Manchester Airport

During his tenure Sir Warren hosted 116 Royal visits to 340 venues including 6 visits of Her Majesty The Queen, either on her own, or with The Duke of Edinburgh. The first Royal Visit he hosted was a two day patronage visit by the Earl of Wessex in July 2007 and his last was the Princess Royal in June 2022 to the British Cardiovascular Society Centenary Conference.

Following the Manchester Atrocity in 2017 he supported Manchester City Council throughout the recovery. He helped organise and hosted visits by The Queen, The Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge within the first few weeks of the aftermath. Subsequently he helped organise The visit of the Duke of Cambridge to the first anniversary and The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge to the official opening of the Glade of Light Memorial this year. He is a member of the Memorial Trust and will remain so after retirement.

The Princess Royal knighting Sir Warren Smith at Windsor Castle
The Princess Royal knighting Sir Warren at Windsor Castle

In the NY Honours list 2020 he was Knighted, becoming a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order. The Princess Royal conducted the investiture at Windsor Castle.

Sir Warren loves his garden, which doubled as his office and meeting place during fine days where visitors were also entertained by the everlasting energy of his Norfolk Terriers. Currently he has two – Esse and Bobby, Esse is very loving, and Bobby is a little mischievous to say the least. His dogs were even spotted by The Queen on a visit, when she arrived in a helicopter on the fields to the rear of his house. He enjoys cooking and entertaining friends at home and in the garden and Summerhouse – something he wants to do more of in retirement. He makes pots of lemon curd and bottles of Sloe Gin and Damson Whiskey which he regularly gifts to people.

Sir Warren Smith hands the ceremonial sword over to Mrs Diane Hawkins
Sir Warren hands the Ceremonial Sword to Mrs Hawkins

On the 3rd of July he handed over the ceremonial sword to the new Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Diane Hawkins, in the presence of the Lieutenancy, at afternoon tea at The Monastery Manchester. It was an emotional and enjoyable event and was especially poignant as it was the first full gathering of the Lieutenancy since the start of the pandemic.

Thank you Sir Warren for you generosity, knowledge and leadership of Greater Manchester Lieutenancy and your contribution to the Lieutenancy regionally and nationally.