Queen’s representative in Devon: We are working on ‘new normal’

David Fursdon, the Lord Lieutenant of Devon

David Fursdon, the Lord Lieutenant of Devon - Credit: Archant

There has never been a more important time to look to the community and thank the individuals and groups who have help us to get through a very difficult time.

The Lord Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon, spoke to me about the situation within the area and what the future 'may' hold when the county can open up.

He said: 'It's been strange because my role representing the Queen is all about getting out and about meeting people, congratulating people, seeing what the community has achieved and, of course, I haven't been able to do that.'

ARE THE ROYAL FAMILY AWARE OF THE SITUATION IN DEVON?

'Very much so, we are in touch with various members of the Royal family and obviously they are very keen to get back to normal and are frustrated but of course there is also the risk. We are in constant discussions in how to progress the situation.'

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THE COMMUNITY HAS COME TO THE FORE DURING THIS PERIOD?

'We are asked on behalf of the Queen to keep an eye on all aspects of life, to engage and to communicate with society within our community.

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'I have been absolutely delighted to see people stepping up to the plate. There have been some remarkable engagements with neighbours, the vulnerable, the old and with the isolated.

'I've even seen it in my own parish and I think it's fair to say that human nature is not what it once was.

'There have been some wonderful stories and some great heart-warming situations which has managed to get people through this terrible time.'

THE GIVING OF AWARDS IS GOING TO BE OVERLOADED SURELY?

'There will have to be a scale of recognition. We would like to thank everyone at all levels. When it comes to honours, naturally a lot of people don't want to stand out, they shy away from being put forward so we have to work quite hard to pull those people out and recognise them.'

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN?

'There are plans, loose plans, about various events. We would like to see people invited to an official garden party but I'm also thinking of maybe hosting something within the county just to say thank you to so many people who deserve it. When and only when we are out of this can we put plans together.'

WHERE DO YOU START IF YOU WANT TO NOMINATE SOMEONE FOR AN AWARD?

'You can contact my office at Devon County Hall in Exeter. There are two websites the www.gov.uk national page or the Lord Lieutenant's website www.lordlieutenantofdevon.org.uk and there you can find advice and the forms. If you have any problems we can always help you out.'

THERE MUST BE A DELAY IN PAST AWARDS?

'We are playing catch up with the award system at the moment and there could be some congestion for some time to come.

'The last garden party didn't take place, last year's and this year's awards have to be scheduled and then the Covid-19 recognition awards will come along.

'Trying to sort all that out will be difficult but it will be done.

'We have still yet to give out the New Year's Honours, British Empire Medals and, in fact, the Queen's Award for Enterprise, we had four winners which is a record number.

'Even the crystal that we award for enterprise isn't being made at the moment because of coronavirus and it is simply not yet appropriate to gather to hand things over.

'My deputies are working harder than they've ever had to, trying to keep the flow of information.

'I've had some fantastic stories from them about what's going on.

'I have written to the Queen on the situation and I've had a lovely letter back from her office.

'So we are working at it but it is a very different life at the moment.'