The lord-lieutenant of Northamptonshire, Lady Juliet Townsend, has said that her successor David Laing will be “amazed at all the things he will find going on in Northamptonshire”.
Lady Juliet, who has served as the Queen’s representative in Northamptonshire since 1998, said she’d had a “wonderful time” since taking office.
She said: “This job has given me such a positive view of life because I’m always surrounded by saints.”
“Northamptonshire has a strong volunteering base and all the people who devote their lives to doing things for the community, and the people doing all sorts of obscure niche things, are the salt of the earth. Learning from them has enriched my life.”
“People often don’t realise how much is involved in being a local respresentative for the Queen and some of it can be difficult. For me, the military side was very confusing at first and it didn’t help that they all talk in initials.
“One of my best moments over the past 16 years was during the recent jubilee celebrations when the Queen was visitng surrounding areas and we just managed to sneak her over the border into Corby; it was such a high moment and it meant a lot to the local people.
“Another was presenting the bravery award to local celebrity, Ann Timson, aka Supergran. I was amazed at how she could march up to several armed thugs with a just a handbag, but then be nervous to the point of shaking about meeting an elderly lady, albeit a royal one.
“Having Royal Garden Party invitations to dispense to local unsung heroes was also a great perk as it lets you give people the recognition they deserve.”
Lady Juliet, who had originally only planned to stay lord-lieutenant for 10 years, said she is retiring due to mobility difficulties.
She said: “I decided to retire a few years early so that I could leave whilst still enjoying the job and being able to do it properly, but now it will be great to have a fresh new person with their own talents to bring to the job.”
Mr Laing, who has previously served as High Sheriff, plans to bring a modern touch to the job by starting a new website and admits he is slightly apprehensive about following in Lady Juliet’s footsteps.
“The selection process is democratic but it’s like looking at the top shelf in a sweet shop: all the possibilities are there but you feel like they are out of your reach. Getting the job was incredibly unexpected and I am now looking forward to being part of such an active county.
“I’m especially interested in supporting young people and my target is to visit as many groups involved in the Northamptonshire Association of Youth Clubs as I can, but it is important to recognise the equally vital work done by all other volunteer groups in the county.
Talking about his involvement in the First World War anniversary this year, My Laing said: “There are still people who actively recall the War and it’s great that people are using the opportunity to look for appropriate ways to mark this milestone.”
David lives with his wife Mary in Grafton Underwood, near Kettering. They have four sons and a daughter.