For Queen and county

HIS post was created more than 500 years ago by Henry VIII and he has represented the Queen in Northumberland for the last nine years, but for Sir John Riddell, the time has come to step down as Lord Lieutenant.

As tradition dictates, the former international investment banker and Private Secretary to the Prince and Princess of Wales relinquished his role on his recent 75th birthday, ending nearly a decade of service to the monarch and the county.

Sir John told how he had 'immensely enjoyed' his time as Lord Lieutenant, not only overseeing Royal visits but also being heavily involved with local voluntary services and organisations including the Army Cadets.

"It was a marvellous experience," said Sir John, who is 13th Baronet of Riddell and was educated at Eton and Christchurch College, Oxford. "It was one of the best posts I have occupied, the reason being that I had been living and working in London for long stretches of time and it was an excellent chance to reacquaint myself with my home county of Northumberland.

"During my time I managed to meet all sorts of different people I would otherwise have never met, particularly in local government and the voluntary sector, and it was an absolute pleasure.

"I have some wonderful memories of escorting the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, particularly during her visit to Berwick and later when we walked together through the centre of Ashington down Station Road.

"It was rather daunting because we didn't think many people would turn out due to the rain, but the response was super. It was very reassuring, being the Queen's representative in the county, to see such great public affection for her."

More recent Royal visits included Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall's trip to Morpeth to see the aftermath of last September's floods which devastated the town centre.

Sir John is also the president of the North of England Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, which includes local companies of the Territorial Army.

And he has also been central to administering honours under the Queen's Awards for Voluntary Service.

Although his Lord Lieutenancy is now behind him, Sir John says he will remain active in the voluntary sector.

"An enormous part of my role was trying to keep in touch with what has been going on in the voluntary services across the county, and that's something I want to continue doing," he said.

"It is vital the people are encouraged and recognised for their efforts.

"I think the advice I would give to the next Lord Lieutenant is to go where the people are. I would say that you have to get around and show your face.

"It is vital to cherish those people who get up and do something positive for their communities."