Some things transcend the divisions in everyday life and the Jubilee is certainly an event that will bring people together, to celebrate as a nation Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne and to remind ourselves how much our local communities matter.
Acting as something of a bridge between the Royal Family and our everyday lives, the role of the Lord-Lieutenant feeds into all aspects of life, from promoting the county to supporting businesses and recognising excellence.
Helen Nellis has held the post as The Queen’s representative in Bedfordshire for the past 11 years, pulling together the threads of a county that she describes as ‘powerful, active and ambitious’, and more than a little diverse.
“I was honoured, shortly after I took up this role, to be asked to be a Business Ambassador for Bedfordshire, a role that is designed to bring businesses and communities together and support enterprise, and it’s clear that different part of this county have different flavours. There’s Luton with its major airport and large employers like EasyJet and Vauxhall, then you have a more rural centre, with excellent road links, and then there’s the Oxford-Cambridge Arc which has seen lots of innovation, and thriving small businesses in business parks, all supported by Cranfield University, the only wholly post graduate university in the UK, and the
University of Bedfordshire.
“It’s a powerful and ambitious region and one of the aspects of being a Business Ambassador is to work with businesses to raise our
Part of that involves encouraging more companies to put themselves forward for the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise. First awarded in 1966, the awards recognise the achievement of firms in a range of categories, including International Trade, Sustainability and Innovation, and are much-coveted. As well as major accolade for the recipient organisation, the awards bring multiple benefits.
The Lord-Lieutenant explained: “The Queen’s Awards winners are the crème de la crème and see immediate rewards. The recipients go to the palace and meet members of the Royal Family, but while there they also meet with other successful companies from all over the country, which is an excellent networking opportunity.
“Most find that having the award also makes it easier to get investment, and it helps to attract employees. There’s a great deal of competition for good talent at the moment and the Queen’s Award is something you can use to attract people. Successful people want to work for businesses where they are going to have opportunities to develop.”
The Lord-Lieutenant’s diary for the Jubilee weekend included events both locally and in London, including the official service at St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as lighting the beacon at Dunstable Downs – where beacons have been lit since the times of the invasion by the Spanish Armada – the Luton Jubilee Carnival and the Bedford Queens Park Jubilee Fair.
Her own Jubilee Service was held in May, at St Mary’s Church in Luton, the church at which The Queen and Prince Philip worshipped whenever they stayed with their friends, the Wernher family, at Luton Hoo.
In addition, Bedfordshire has really taken the Queen’s Green Canopy – a tree planting initiative to mark the Platinum Jubilee – to heart with businesses, charities, faith groups and schools getting involved. Over the course of this year, around 50,000 trees will be planted in Queens Wood Community Woodland, part of the Forest of Marston Vale.
The Lord-Lieutenant said: “I think the main thing about the Jubilee is that it will be an immense celebration and it’s a time when people can relax and have some fun.
“During the pandemic there was a great community spirit, businesses and individuals did so much to support the community, and everyone helped one another. Under difficult circumstances, we did have fun at times, having a drink in our own front gardens and talking to neighbours over in theirs, but there’s nothing like
getting together for a celebration.
“I think the Platinum Jubilee is the first real chance we have had to put what happened behind us and relax and enjoy ourselves.”
Find out more about the role of the Lord-Lieutenant here.