Becoming the county’s first Lord-Lieutenant on Twitter, appointing its first Sikh Deputy Lieutenant, Mr Jaspal Singh, and overseeing attendance at 24 different Remembrance services in a single day – Julie Spence’s first year as Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire has been both hectic and remarkable.
Reflecting on her first year Mrs Spence, whose role is to be the representative of the Crown in Cambridgeshire and who was formerly the county’s Chief Constable – admits that in the early stages she found her responsibilities ‘rather daunting’.
“Everyone expects you to know what you are doing, for example if you are the first to lay a wreath. That said - with a dose of common sense, good fortune and support from others - I have navigated the elephant traps and maintained the dignity required of the office I proudly hold.”
During her first year she has awarded three British Empire Medals, eight Queen’s Awards for Enterprise to first class companies; appointed five new Deputy Lieutenants – including the aforementioned Jaspal Singh, five Lord- Lieutenant’s Cadets and welcomed six members of the Royal Family, including the Princess Royal and Duke of York, to different parts of the county.
She has attended a veritable blizzard of events including ANZAC Day and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial day - and given a considerable number of speeches including one at the USAF Memorial Day Commemorations, at the US cemetery in Madingley, to mark the 75th Anniversary of the ‘Friendly Invasion’ by American troops as they joined World War 2.
Following the lead of the Royal Family, on January 1st, Mrs Spence fulfilled her New Year’s resolution and joined the ranks of the Twitterarti in order to spread the message of the work of the Lieutenancy (@Lord_Lt_Cambs). A new website is also being planned.
In all things she has been ably supported by her 35 deputy Lieutenants
“This year has enabled me travel around the county and to understand even more about its complexity. Many think Cambridgeshire is an affluent county. This however masks great diversity; we have over 153 different cultures and nationalities living in the county and the enormity of the wealth/poverty gap, best exemplified by two wards in Cambridge where two thirds of the children live in poverty, and in Wisbech where there are wards in the bottom 10% in the country - only in London is there greater polarity between rich and poor but our divide is complicated by rurality.” she said.
In reflection of the great diversity of the county, during the year Mrs Spence has attended Chinese New Year celebrations and been a guest at the Peterborough Interfaith Forum celebration in Cathedral Square Peterborough.
Highlights of the past year
My most heart-warming and emotional duty:-
The Organ Donors Awards Ceremony, jointly run by St John’s Ambulance and the National Organ Donation and Transplant Service, where awards are given to the families, in the name of the loved one they have lost, who has given life to others. One man who received a lung transplant giving him 11 extra years of life, on his death donated his kidneys to a lady who had waited 35 years for a transplant.
My most exhausting duty:-
The two day visit by Earl of Wessex on his Real Tennis Tour raising funds for and awareness of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, organising alongside The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Team, a fund raising gala dinner and ending with the Earl opening the new Arthur Rank Hospice.
My most exhilarating duty:-
Selecting six people to attend the wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Sussex; these individuals represented the best of the county and were mainly aged under 20. I know they had a fabulous day in Windsor watching the wedding and feeling part of the occasion and seeing history in the making.
NB: Mrs Spence and her husband watched the wedding themselves on the big screens at The Rowley Mile Course in Newmarket before enjoying a sunny afternoon’s racing!
The Lieutenancy’s busiest day:-
Remembrance Sunday November 2017 when we attended different 24 Remembrance services across the county.