I value being able to tell people what we do that’s good in the county. I value listening to the people of the county who have problems or good points that they want to give me to bring back.
What inspired me to become a councillor?
Well, my grandfather had been a councillor for Petworth Rural District Council and I thought the time had come when I would like to do something for my community and help with the community’s future. There was an election and I stood and got on as a representative for Petworth - and I’ve been there ever since.
What do I value most about being Chairman?
Well, I value the honour, I value the opportunity I have to go over this wonderful county of ours. I value being able to tell people what we do that’s good in the county. I value listening to the people of the county who have problems or good points that they want to give me to bring back.
One of the best jobs that I enjoy is a thing called citizenship ceremony. We do once a fortnight, meeting all these people who have put a lot of effort into becoming citizens of the United Kingdom. I present them with their certificates and we have lots of photographs together, family come as well, and then I hand over to the Lord-Lieutenant or the Deputy of the Lord Lieutenant and they give them a history lesson on the position of Lord-Lieutenant in the county and what it’s all about.
How do I manage balancing in my life?
Well, it isn’t always easy because the most important thing in my life is my family. It’s one of the reasons that I do this job, not just my family but everybody’s family. I do have a lot of support at home. I don’t physically work on the farm anymore, what physical work there is is less mainly to my husband and contractors nowadays. But when I get back from council work, I’m very keen to sit in the garden, but not just sit I actually work in the garden. In fact, my daughter and I are both in the Ploughing Match Associations ‘Best Kept Garden’ competition. I do you think she’ll beat me but that’s another story.
My role as Chairman of West Sussex County Council is a varied one, and for instance, just recently I had a royal visit with Prince Charles in Crawley at L3, where they’ve just installed new simulators for airline pilots.
And that was followed the next day with 22,000 children at Ardingly Showground on a ‘Connect with the Countryside’ meeting for all of them to experience different aspects of the countryside.
Is being Chairman of the County Council the pinnacle of my political career locally?
Absolutely, absolutely, I have no doubt of that. It’s an honour, it’s a privilege And I intend to work hard at it for the time I’m Chairman of the County Council because it is a privilege to do so.
NB This film was recorded prior to Covid-19 restrictions