Sussex Life meets Lord-Lieutenant Susan Pyper,
PUBLISHED: 08:33 25 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:15 20 February 2013
Our monarch is a very busy lady. When she cannot be present in West Sussex she asks her representative, the Lord-Lieutenant Susan Pyper, to stand in. Simon Irwin went to meet Queen Elizabeth's eyes and ears in the county
Susan Pyper is a bundle of energy. Not at all the fearsome Establishment figure one might imagine would be the Queens representative on the ground. More the high-flying health service leader and former RAF officer that she was in another life.
Mrs Pyper has been in her role since 2008 and, health allowing, could be in post until 2027 when she reaches the official retirement age of 75. She is keen to raise the profile of her role and to engage with the entire breadth of society in West Sussex.
She sees the post as broadly split into two. First, to uphold the Crown, to represent the Queen and to be her eyes and ears in the county.
Among the duties of the Lord-Lieutenant are escorting Royal visitors, presenting honours and awards, leadership of the local magistracy as chairman of the Advisory Committee on Justices of the Peace and liaison with local units of the Royal Navy, Army and RAF.
Mrs Pyper is invited to a huge number of events around the county and tries to get to as many as possible. If the event is suitable and she is unable to attend she asks one of her Deputy Lieutenants (DLs) to represent her. Along with her number two, Gordon Tregear, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant from Cowfold, Mrs Pyper is entitled to 47 DLs. She currently has 41.
One regular weekly event is the citizenship ceremony held every other week at Chichester and Crawley respectively. There the Lord-Lieutenant or one of her DLs formally welcomes the new citizens to the United Kingdom on behalf of Her Majesty.
The citizenship ceremonies are genuinely touching events and mean so much to the people involved. It is an honour to welcome them formally to the community here in West Sussex.
Mrs Pyper sees the second part of her role as being to encourage and foster the life of the county in all its variety. This includes everything from the arts, the spiritual life of the county to health and well being. She is keen to widen the relevance of the Lieutenancy to all groups, including all faith groups. She says her desire is to be as inclusive as possible.
If you think about it, we are a very diverse county. For example, Crawley is an exciting, richly multi-faith and multi-cultural town.We are lucky to have so many nationalities living here in West Sussex.
Already I have been made very welcome by the Muslim and Sikh communities, and I look forward
to meeting and learning about
other faith groups
The Cathedral here in Chichester has been a rock not just in the general religious sense but in their support for the multi-faith approach I am taking.
There is a perception that West Sussex is very wealthy and some areas are, but parts of it are completely the opposite, even in Chichester. When I left the NHS, there was a considerable difference in life expectancy between one side of Chichester and the other.
It is a busy county. There are the towns and city, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Crawley, Worthing, Littlehampton, East Grinstead, Bognor Regis and Chichester. West Sussex is like a doughnut, youve got the towns all around the edge and youve got the important rural hole in the middle.
Mrs Pyper came to West Sussex in 1989 when her husband Jonathan, who was a fighter pilot in the RAF, got a job as a commercial airline pilot flying out of Gatwick. They immediately fell in love with it.
I wasnt born here but this is my county and has been for well over 20 years. I am totally committed to it.
My children have been brought up here and the whole family is rooted here.