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Derbyshire VIPs look back on their best day of 2023

Westminster Abbey, where Derbyshire's Lord-Lieuetenant represented the county at the Coronation Photo: Getty Images
Westminster Abbey, where Derbyshire's Lord-Lieuetenant represented the county at the Coronation Photo: Getty Images

As 2023 draws to a close, the Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, High Sheriff of Derbyshire, Bishop of Derby, Derbyshire Women’s Institute Chair, and the leader of the Visit Peak District and Derbyshire tourist board reveal their personal highlights of the year.

 

Great British Life: Liz Fothergill CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, experienced one of the most memorable days of her life in May Photo: Liz FothergillLiz Fothergill CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire, experienced one of the most memorable days of her life in May Photo: Liz Fothergill

Liz Fothergill CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Derbyshire

'An overwhelming sense of awe'

My best day of 2023, and indeed one of the best days of my life, was May 6 when I had the honour and privilege to represent the people of Derbyshire at the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III and Queen Camilla.

I had secured a hotel within the pedestrian zone so took an early morning walk, dressed in my finery, to join the security queue on Lambeth Bridge.

I met other Lord-Lieutenants and by 7am we were seated on the front row in the nave of Westminster Abbey - totally surreal!

It was a contrast to my last visit for the funeral of her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, an occasion of great solemnity, the coming together of a nation in grief and gratitude for an incredible 70 years’ dedicated service.

So it was an enormous joy and delight to witness the Coronation. I was in in the Abbey for seven hours but it went in a flash.

Before the service there were hours of glorious music - the Monteverdi Choir, English Baroque soloists, the coronation Orchestra, organ music, Bach, Handel, Walton, Rutter and Vaughan Williams… a delicious feast indeed.

Once the processions started I could have reached out and touched the participants, the holders of centuries old orders of chivalry and gallantry, the heralds, the faith leaders, the Crowns and rings.

Lustrous fabrics, glittering jewels, no superlatives can exaggerate the glory and splendour. Centuries- old traditions mixed with innovative ideas to bring inclusivity. A new start in a diverse, vibrant Britain - sheer joy.

The entire Royal family passed in front with the King and Queen looking immaculate, the epitome of grace. It took my breath away.

The exquisite beauty of the service, sublime music, discipline and skills of our Armed Forces gave me an overwhelming sense of awe and respect for our traditions; the British ability to make things happen with precision, grace and style, the world watching our history in the making. What a day.

At 1.30pm we were able to leave. Battling the pouring rain, glad of a plastic mac given by the Girl Guides, I navigated through the crowds with sore feet but walking on air.

 

Great British Life: The Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby Photo: Diocese of DerbyThe Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby Photo: Diocese of Derby

Rt Revd Libby Lane, Bishop of Derby

'Joyous celebrations'

As Bishop of Derby, every day is different.

Some days I sit in the House of Lords, others as a trustee in Higher Education, with The Children’s Society or with Derby Multi Faith Centre. Some, as Lead Bishop for Youth Justice, I spend in Young Offenders institutions.

Much time is given to running a Diocese: with statutory responsibility to offer care, guidance and support for everyone in our county and city, and to provide Christian worship, learning and participation for those who want to join in.

With a budget of over £100 million, about 350 places of worship, 111 church schools, thousands of active members, hundreds of clergy, staff and volunteers, we deliver our work in partnership with other churches, faiths, local authorities, statutory bodies, charities, businesses, politicians and local communities.

The Diocese of Derby is committed to deepening relationship with God, making new disciples, serving local contexts and challenging injustice.

A good day would include some of all those elements and enabling others to do the same, including doing at least some of that with children.

Let me share 24 hours from July:

This snapshot begins with the joyous celebrations ordaining 14 clergy (amazing men and women aged mid-twenties to early sixties, giving themselves for Christ to lead churches and serve communities of Derbyshire and Derby City) followed by an event in my garden for staff, volunteers and their families who supported those ordination services.

The following day began with Prayer in my chapel (as every day at home does). I had a meeting to plan my next session in parliament and welcomed a new member of staff into my Office.

I travelled to a service of interment of ashes, sharing the grief of a family of a clergyman who had served in the diocese, then met a colleague to mentor and support.

In the afternoon, I officially opened a secondary school listening to children tell their story, supporting staff and governors in their leadership and blessing the school community.

What a day!

 

Great British Life: Geraldine Feehally, Victoria Hawley, Veronica Pickering, Henrietta Chubb, Theresa Peltier, Milan Shah at October's Legal Service in Derby Photo: Phil RichardsGeraldine Feehally, Victoria Hawley, Veronica Pickering, Henrietta Chubb, Theresa Peltier, Milan Shah at October's Legal Service in Derby Photo: Phil Richards

Theresa Peltier, High Sheriff of Derbyshire

'Derbyshire is bursting with the best of humanity'

Choosing your best day is rather like choosing your best music for Desert Island Discs. Like music, your choices can leave an emotional imprint and depending on mood your ‘best’ can change as regularly as the weather.

Since holding the office of High Sheriff I’ve attended just over 250 engagements. I’ve met the most wonderful people where I’ve shared stimulating conversations, laughed heartily, been moved to tears, heard heartbreaking stories of loss, survival and resilience, and better understood the lived experience of others. Without doubt, Derbyshire is bursting with the best in humanity.

But if my quest is to identify one day, it would be the High Sheriff Legal Service on October 8 at Derby Cathedral. To understand why, I’ll remind readers of my theme for the year - Unity is Community.

Celebrating difference was the order of the day - from the deeply moving music of Derby Cathedral Choir, the organist and voice of Jamie Joseph, to the delivery of prayer from Royal School for the Deaf Derby and Reigate Primary School students, who displayed such composure and dignity.

It was an opportunity to bring people together representing all that is great about Derbyshire, where our physical, psychological and social differences were accepted and embraced. Where conversations began, friendships flourished and alliances were strengthened.

We rely heavily on the goodwill of volunteers and the professionalism and hard work of our emergency services, judiciary, military and army personnel, charities, third sector organisations and community groups.

On Sunday October 8 I was privileged to be among a county-wide demographic, where leadership, commitment, resilience and a passion for improving the lives of others was in abundance.

Everyone in attendance had a part to play. Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’

 

 

Great British Life: Jo Dilley, managing director of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire Photo: Visit Peak District & DerbyshireJo Dilley, managing director of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire Photo: Visit Peak District & Derbyshire

Jo Dilley, Managing Director of Visit Peak District & Derbyshire

'We are getting it right in Derbyshire'

It may sound a little uninspiring, but one of my most memorable days this year was receiving confirmation from VisitEngland that Visit Peak District and Derbyshire in partnership with Visit Derby had received Local Visitor Economy Partnership accreditation.

I know that doesn’t mean much to the layperson, but when you have worked in tourism as long as I have, the email received on April 3 was confirmation we are getting it right in Derbyshire and Derby!

Local Visitor Economy Partnerships (or LVEPs) will form the new structure for delivering tourism activity across England and VisitEngland’s objective is to accredit up to 40 LVEPs across the country. Proudly, we were announced as one of the first 15 LVEPs!

This is where I get excited (I know, I need to get out more!). We are paving the way here for others playing catch up, offering the first partnership between a County and a City and hailed as a best practice approach by peers at VisitEngland and our Government Department DCMS.

‘What does this mean?’ I hear you say. I hope (and I say hope) investment will follow. We have a spectacular tourism offer in the Peak District, Derbyshire and Derby and investment from Government is vital.

It would be remiss not to mention the amazing teams here at Visit Peak District and Derbyshire and Visit Derby, whose primary objective is to support thousands of businesses across the sector.

As a team we work with a fantastic community of business owners and employers and their resilience and hard work to overcome the many challenges faced in recent years deserves our respect and should be applauded.

We are so lucky to live in such a great place – I urge you all to explore what’s right here on your doorstep.

 

Great British Life: Derbyshire WI chair Anne Bellamy Derbyshire WI chair Anne Bellamy (Image: Derbyshire WI)

Anne Bellamy, Chair of the Derbyshire Women's Federation

'Those there were privileged to attend'

‘And did those feet in Ancient Time…’ The opening lines to Jerusalem being sung by about 2,000 women from across England and Wales sounded so good it made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

I was in St David’s Hall, Cardiff, representing 4,000 members of Derbyshire Federation at the National Annual Meeting of the Women’s Institute.

I wasn’t alone from Derbyshire. About 30 of us had travelled the day before on May 24, stopping at various places throughout Derbyshire picking up members, renewing acquaintances and looking forward to a couple of days of something different.

We had arrived mid-afternoon, giving us time after checking in to our hotel to explore Cardiff before dinner. After, it was off to bed for an early start the next morning.

St David’s Hall was within walking distance and when we got there it was thronged with women. There was much laughter and chat amidst an air of expectation. This meeting was one of the most important events in the WI year and those there were privileged to attend. There are about 170,000 members across England and Wales and I was part of the audience representing those women.

Singing Jerusalem was just the start as the day progressed through reports and speakers. We all listened intently to the arguments for and against the resolution to clean up our rivers before voting in favour. We will now campaign on this issue.

I felt privileged to take part. I was representing Derbyshire Federation, one of 69 in England and Wales.

At the close, we sang Jerusalem again. It is synonymous with the WI and most of us don’t need to look at the words, we know it by heart!

It was my best day!



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