Lord-Lieutenant of Herts speaks out about role in the county
PUBLISHED: 15:00 14 July 2018
One might assume the Queen’s representative in Hertfordshire was a high-born baron lounging in a castle somewhere in the Home Counties Green Belt.
But nothing could be further from the truth for Robert Voss, who succeeded The Countess of Verulam as Hertfordshire’s Lord-Lieutenant last year.
When the role was initially established it was to maintain law and order across the county - but the Lord-Lieutenant has not undertaken that role since the 19th century.
His duties now include arranging Her Majesty’s visits, presenting awards on behalf of The Queen, relaying important news to her, suggesting residents for royal garden parties, attending civic events, and maintaining close links with the military and emergency services.
When he was appointed to the role in July 2017, Robert vowed to make the relatively unknown job familiar to the people of Hertfordshire.
He said: “My main objective is to bring the Lord-Lieutenant to the people of Hertfordshire for various reasons. Firstly, if you stop 100 people in the street in St Albans or Hatfield or Welwyn or wherever, I bet 95 per cent of people would not have the foggiest who I was and what I was talking about.
“So firstly it is about getting people to understand what it is and secondly, it is bringing the deputies to Hertfordshire.”
Robert has appointed 49 deputies, all with expertise in a variety of industries.
He said: “We all want to facilitate things, put people together and make connections and so it is important that people can engage with that and they can come to us.
“We are there to facilitate for the people of the county so it is very important people know who we are.”
The 65-year-old, who will stay in the position until he is 75, was shortlisted by a committee, then hand-picked by Prime Minister Theresa May, and then presented to The Queen for selection.
He added: “It is fascinating, extremely busy, and I am learning an awful lot about the county I thought I knew so well.
“When I heard I was shocked, totally and utterly shocked. Although I knew my name was one of the three put forward, which in itself was a shock to be selected.”
Robert is the son of two refugees who fled Nazi Germany in 1939 and he has lived for more than 30 years in and around Rickmansworth.
He recently retired after a long career in the metal industry, having also chaired the European Federation in Brussels for 16 years.
Having a special interest in young businesspeople, Robert was involved with Hertfordshire Young Enterprise, was a trustee of Young Person of the Year Charity, and established the Young Entrepreneurs Challenge.
As part of the Lord-Lieutenant job, he is president of The Hertfordshire County Committee of The Army Reserve and Cadet Force and chairman of The Advisory Committee of the Magistrates.
Robert is a University of Hertfordshire governor and a member of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation Survivors’ Testimony Committee.
In 2014 he was awarded a CBE for services to British industry and voluntary work in the UK.
On receiving the award, Robert said: “I am especially proud and humbled as the son of two refugees who escaped Nazi Germany in 1939, who, within 12 months of being given refuge, enlisted into the British Army and fought for the country they proudly called home for the rest of their lives.
“It is the greatest honour to be able to serve the country that literally gave me life.
“I will devote my time and energy to serving the great county of Herts – a vibrant, dynamic and diverse county - and its people to the best of my ability and with pride.”
He says people skills are the most valuable lesson he can transfer from a business career to the Lord-Lieutenant role.
Although he has had no experience in the armed forces, Robert normally wears full military uniform when carrying out The Queen’s duties.
Mr Voss lives in Loudwater with his wife, Celia. They have two adult sons, a daughter and two grandsons all of whom live in different areas of Hertfordshire.
To find out more about the Lord-Lieutenant role or to contact Robert, visit lord-lieutenant-herts.org.uk