JOHN GRIFF COLUMN: Citizens deserve a warm welcome to our county

Through these pages you may be aware that a couple of years ago, I was honoured to be invited to become a Deputy Lieutenant of the county, writes John Griff.

By Graham Tebbutt (Edited by)
Thursday, 10th February 2022, 1:46 pm
John Griff is a deputy to Lord Lieutenant James Saunders-Watson (above)
John Griff is a deputy to Lord Lieutenant James Saunders-Watson (above)

The honour is exactly that, but it’s not the kind of honour where you sit back and bask in some kind of reflected glory.

No, this is an honour which brings with it the fulsome expectation that you will actively put something into the work of the Lord Lieutenant to whom you are his or her deputy. And that’s exactly what it should be.

The Lord Lieutenant is the representative of the monarch of the day and is personally selected by them to officiate when their own duties prevent them from being in the county.

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The Lord Lieutenant then appoints their Vice-Lord Lieutenant and a range of deputies to share what can be a considerable load for a single person to shoulder.

In the case of Northamptonshire, our Lord Lieutenant, James Saunders-Watson, has the newly-appointed Morcea Walker MBE as his Vice-Lord Lieutenant and about 25 deputies, who together seek out and encourage good works from across the county, shining the light on them and generally encouraging more of the same.

Through my day-to-day dealings and involvement elsewhere, I have always been aware of the good work going on in Northamptonshire and of the number of people who shy away from that light.

It’s a tough one perhaps, but it is through that light that we better understand just how much there is that people bring to their community... and its value.

This week as part of my deputy duties, I attended a number of citizenship ceremonies... officially.

These are normally shared between Northampton and Kettering and mark the end of a journey for people who have come to Great Britain from abroad; sought citizenship here together with the freedoms that it brings; studied to achieve it; borne the costs of doing so; and finally reached the day of their own ceremony.

It’s a very personal thing and takes time to achieve. Anyone who gets to that point is worthy of respect for their commitment and a warm welcome to British citizenship.

Ours is a diverse community and throughout history we have benefited from new arrivals bringing new views and new skills.

I have no doubt it will be the same with this week’s newly confirmed citizens.

At one of the ceremonies this week – and having presented him with his certificate of British nationality and a small souvenir medal (a unique gift given only by our county I understand) – he, in turn, asked if he could present me with his headgear, a beret with a feather proudly standing to attention at its front and handmade for him by his wife in Tibet.

Having checked that he really was sure that he wanted to present me with such a personal gift, I readily accepted, the warmth of his own generosity briefly catching me off guard. So kind.

It is that same spirit of welcoming new views that will keep other areas of county life refreshed too.

Our new unitary bodies are still settling into their challenges and the same is true of the offices of the High Sheriff and the Lord Lieutenant.

But with new people come new opportunities to bring positivity and prosperity to the county.

Far from being anachronistic, archaic nods to the past, they are contributors to the present and the future, evolving from what preceded them.

Expect positive outputs from positive inputs and the rewards that they bring to the wider community.