County champion... from the Armada to Jools
PUBLISHED: 15:57 06 May 2009 | UPDATED: 10:40 23 August 2010
LORD Lieutenant Allan Willett can trace his ceremonial role back to the days of the Armada. Not bad for a man who today counts among his deputies the musician and TV favourite Jools Holland. The office is undoubtedly historic but it has certainly changed
LORD Lieutenant Allan Willett can trace his ceremonial role back to the days of the Armada. Not bad for a man who today counts among his deputies the musician and TV favourite Jools Holland.
The office is undoubtedly historic but it has certainly changed with the times.
The businessman and former - and founding - chairman of the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) will serve as Lord Lieutenant until he is 75 in 2011.
He defines the aims of the modernised lieutenancy as being to provide "a focus for county identity, unity and pride, give a sense of stability, recognise achievements, success and excellence, and promote service to others".
Mr Willett adds: "Our aspiration is to celebrate Kent, its unique history and culture, serve its communities - and contribute positively to its future."
The Lord Lieutenant's Support Our Armed Forces campaign has involved taking a lead in encouraging all the county's local authorities to demonstrate their support with welcome home receptions and parades.
This is one of many examples of how, perhaps uniquely owing to its totally apolitical status and because it has no axe to grind, the lieutenancy is able to bring all manner of organisations together in a spirit of cooperation to further the interests of Kent and its communities.
This year's lieutenancy theme is celebrating the mosaic of communities that make up the county - and especially the work of the voluntary sector.
Other important lieutenancy duties include looking after members of the royal family and heads of state when they pay official visits to the county.
The Lord Lieutenant also chairs the County's Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace and their appointment - and there are more than 850 JPs in Kent.
His deputies, who come from all walks of life and all parts of Kent, are selected by an appointments panel and honoured for their positive contributions to the county and the nation.
Lieutenancy appointments carry no pay and the deputies meet all their own expenses, including buying their distinctive Invicta-motif badges of office and uniforms - if they choose to wear one for appropriate duty occasions.
Why do they do it? Simply for love of the county and the satisfaction of being able to put something back into its communities.
Encouraging volunteering in the community is one of the lieutenancy's key roles.
As well as being a Deputy Lieutenant, Peter Hardy, from Shorne, is a trustee and chairman of Kent Community Foundation. The foundation raises funds from philanthropic individuals - including the Lord Lieutenant himself - and organisations and has distributed almost £11million to more than 3,500 projects since its formation eight years ago, benefiting tens of thousands of people in Kent.
He says: "The impact of all the hard and dedicated work volunteers do in Kent's communities is immeasurable and the lieutenancy is active in thanking them - and encouraging others to volunteer."
The lieutenancy's annual civic service is a happy occasion and a large contingent from north Kent attended this year's event at Rochester Cathedral.
The Lord Lieutenant also presents Queen's Awards for voluntary service - and for enterprise.
Highlighting all the positive achievements of our young people, representing as they do the future of our county, is another priority for the lieutenancy. Spearheading the lieutenancy's youth initiative is Godfrey Linnett, chairman of Kent Youth. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, although he lives in Bromley, which now - like Bexley - is part of the Greater London Lieutenancy.
He said: "Two years ago the lieutenancy held a major celebration of youth achievement at the County Showground.
"We are currently planning a similar event there on May 15, 2010, and will be encouraging many youth organisations from north Kent to take part."
For more information on the Lieutenancy of Kent, visit www.lord-lieutenant-kent.info
Musician, big band leader and popular television music programme host Jools Holland OBE, who lives at Cooling Castle, is proud to have been appointed a Deputy Lieutenant.
Representing the Lord Lieutenant at an Army Benevolent Fund military band concert, Jools was persuaded on stage - in his new Deputy Lieutenant's uniform - and gave an impromptu keyboard performance to the delight of the audience.
All a far cry from seeing off the Armada, but another positive example of the modern lieutenancy at work for a good cause.
Another deputy lieutenant heavily involved in youth work is Kelvin Holford, from Dartford, who is also County Commissioner for Kent Scouts.
The lieutenancy maintains close and cordial relationships with all Kent's local authorities, each having a nominated deputy for liaison.
Link Deputy for Dartford is the Reverend Martin Henwood, vicar of Holy Trinity, who chairs the charity Faith in their Voices, which engages the leaders of faith communities in community development.
He explains: "One of our initiatives is a flagship regeneration project taking place at Gravesend Old Town Hall, where the faith communities are engaged in outreach projects, welcoming new arrivals into the community." This exemplar model is spearheading the way in which existing communities are able to engage in the wider regeneration agenda and other issues.
John Ogden, from Meopham, is the link Deputy Lieutenant with Gravesham Council. Occasionally, deputy lieutenants are called upon to look after royal visitors - as Mr Ogden did when the Duke of York visited Gravesend two years ago. Godfrey Linnett is the link Deputy Lieutenant for Sevenoaks, which encompasses Swanley.
Horton Kirby farmer Sarah Ward OBE chairs the Kent Rural Task Force and is on the Board of East Malling Horticultural Research, the independent provider of research, development and consultancy serving the food chain and other sectors of land-based industry. She is among those deputy lieutenants who now take part in ceremonies held by Kent County Council and Medway Council welcoming new citizens of the United Kingdom.