MESSAGE OF HOPE from Lord-Lieutenant, Lt Col (Retd) Johnny Stewart
2020 began with considerable optimism but sadly, since March, this has faded and our Country and County face the considerable challenges of COVID-19. These are extraordinary, dark times but I think we all might have been heartened by The Queen’s Address to the Nation at Easter. Her Majesty has seen our Country through many trials and her calm reassurance was most welcome.
Many families have been deeply affected through the death of a loved one, the current considerable financial challenges and the enormous changes to our daily lives. Many of the things we all took for granted are no longer possible. However, they will be one day and we will return to more normal times. We will overcome the pandemic but in the short term we must stay at home and prevent the virus from spreading. Already the measures that we are all adhering to are showing really positive results with a lessening in the depressing death toll. Self isolating is really hard, especially in this very unusual spell of weather when all we really want to do is get outside in the sunshine, but we must stick to the task.
We have seen an amazing community response in the County. So many have stepped up and are volunteering. All of the voluntary organisations I have visited over the last few years are doing wonderful jobs. I have spoken to many people by telephone and it is clear that countless people have come forward and are doing so much to help within their communities, checking on neighbours, carrying out their shopping, dog walking, delivering medical prescriptions and caring for the vulnerable and elderly.
Council officers, already with so much to do, are now facing many new challengesthat they never expected to face and they are doing a great job. Essential Council workers are working hard to keep services running and are taking extra risks in doing so: we are all grateful to them.
There are so many unsung heroes both in the Council, NHS, emergency services and the voluntary organisations throughout the County. We must do everything we can to support them and recognise their endeavours. When the Pandemic is beaten and we return to our normal way of life we must come together to thank all those who have made our lives so much easier.
Many of you will be disappointed that the pandemic has ruined plans for the VE75 celebrations and commemorations in early May. I know that a lot of work had been carried out in preparation for the many community events. The anniversary will now be very different and will be brought to you all by social media and television.
Armed Forces Day has for the second year running been cancelled. All being well we will have a very special parade in 2021.
Buckingham Palace has confirmed that they are still sending out 100/105th birthday and 60/65 and 70th wedding anniversary cards from the Queen but due to the pandemic and the shortage of staff at the Palace there may be delays. Sadly it will not be possible for me or any of the Deputy Lieutenants to present them for the foreseeable future.
Each year, one of my many happy tasks as Lord Lieutenant, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, is to invite 80 people to attend the annual Royal Garden Party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. Although this has not officially been cancelled, I fear it is very likely and, if so, I will organise for all those who were due to go this July to attend in July 2021.
I look forward to seeing you in the future when life gets back to normal, whenever that may be. We will meet again. Stay well and stay safe in these very difficult times. We will all get through this and there will be better times again in the future.
I end with a quote from Captain Tom Moore who has inspired so many of us, “For all those finding it difficult: the sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away”