MyLocalNews catches up with the Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss, who kindly answers key questions about himself and his role in the county.
- Could you name a few of your favourite moments as Lord-Lieutenant so far and why they mean so much to you?
All the awards ceremonies are wonderful – to be able to represent Her Majesty and present awards and honours to winners of Queens Awards for Enterprise and Voluntary Service as well as recipients of British Empire Medals – who have done so much for the community – are such pleasurable events.
However, perhaps the most enjoyable was at Lonsdale School for physically and neurologically impaired young people, when they created a Royal Garden Party and put my wife and I on thrones and all the pupils filed past and saluted. Then we all had tea – what a day of joy and excitement.
- In general, what are your favourite aspects of the role?
Meeting such a diversity of people around the county. I have the opportunity to meet and engage with people all level of the community and it is so humbling to meet people who have very little themselves and yet still give to others in many ways.
I do especially enjoy meeting young people and am lucky to visit many schools and colleges as well as other youth organisations.
- You have held the position of Lord-Lieutenant since 2017 – would you say the role has changed at all in that time? If so, how?
In the way that the world is continually changing, so is the Lieutenancy. I have brought a lot of structure to the role. I am allowed to appoint 57 Deputies – I currently have 46 appointed – and I wanted to capture the huge amount of expertise and experience that these good people possess, so I established 15 panels covering all aspects of interest, including education, health, business, social responsibility, inter-faith as well as the four geographical areas of the county.
These days, the Lieutenancy needs to engage with people at all levels alongside our traditional roles representing Her Majesty and carrying out duties on Her behalf.
- You will of course hold this role until 2028 – do you have particular ambitions for your remaining years?
My mission statement when I was appointed was “To take the Lieutenancy to the people of Hertfordshire” and that has ambition has not changed. Together with my Deputy Lieutenants, we have great expertise and experience in a vast number of areas and I want to ensure that we reach out to the people of the county and say, “how can we help you?”
This is what Her Majesty would like us to do on her behalf
- As the Lord-Lieutenant, you have an incredible number of responsibilities and, additionally, you are president, vice-president or patron of a wide range of charities. Is it a struggle to manage your time? What is the key to staying on top of things?
Indeed, I am extremely busy often seven days a week. However good diary management is important, as is a good PA and in Siobhan – the assistant clerk to the Lieutenancy – I have just that. I am also good at forward planning and have engagements in my diary already for 2023 and 2024
- Would you mind describing your relationship with the Royal Family and, briefly, summarising what they mean to you personally?
I am a huge admirer of the Royal Family and no one more so than Her Majesty The Queen, who will celebrate an amazing 70 years on the throne in 2022.
I have met The Queen and do meet other members of the Royal Family who are very hard working and always interested in the people that they meet
- What would you say is the most common misconception about the Lord-Lieutenant role?
That I get paid (I don’t).
That I do this for one year-I do it until I am 75-in my case 11 years.
That I live in a castle… I don’t!
- Obviously, you have more than earned the Lord-Lieutenant role – but could you ever have imagined holding such a prestigious title in previous years?
Absolutely not – I was totally shocked when my name was put forward. Both my parents were immigrants from Nazi Germany who came to the UK with nothing, so it is with them in mind that I appreciate the huge honour bestowed on me. It is of course life-changing but the ultimate honour to be the personal representative of the greatest monarch in the world.
- While lockdowns are hopefully a thing of the past now, the pandemic has no doubt had a huge impact on your role and your personal life. What have been the biggest problems you’ve faced?
Not meeting people face-to-face and being able to shake them by the hand. Of course Zoom, Teams etc. have been life savers for all of us but I have been overwhelmed at times –in one week having 29 virtual engagements.
- I have seen you take a number of positives from the pandemic in your columns. What is the biggest positive you can find regarding the pandemic?
Without doubt the community spiri,t which has abounded across the county – and the country. People have gone out of their way to help, support and guide others in their communities. I hope it continues.
- How do you tend to spend your free time? (if you have any!)
As you say, if I get any free time – I play golf and cycle to try and keep fit, but I think my family – who I don’t see as much I would like – are my main interest. And Celia is my amazingly supportive wife, who not only puts up with me being out so often, but also accompanies me to events when she can and for whom my role is also life-changing.
- Can you tell readers a fun fact they may not know about you?
I played a full 90 minutes football match at Wembley Stadium (the old Twin Arches) in 1996-a wonderful experience.
I have two different coloured eyes.
Please follow me on Twitter – @hertlieutenant and on our website – www.lord-lieutenant-herts.org.uk