The effect of the Corona Virus on the Lieutenancy
The Corona Virus has made a major difference to the activities of the Lieutenancy in the period from the beginning of March 2020 until the spring of 2021. As would be expected almost all the events to which the Lord Lieutenant would normally be invited were cancelled or postponed. These included the garden parties, honours presentation ceremonies, new citizen ceremonies, 21 gun salutes & of course, Royal visits! The 1 exception was that many of the services on Remembrance Sunday in November 2020. did go ahead, although in a very restricted and safe manner. There were a few new citizen ceremonies held at the Lagan Valley Centre in Lisburn in the summer of 2020 but later they became Zoom ceremonies, initially with 1 person at a time but later with up to 5 new citizens attending a ceremony.
Each Lord Lieutenant has the use of a cadet drawn from the army, navy or air force but because of the restrictions the cadet appointed in March 2020 still hasn't been able to perform any duties and has not even been able to meet the Lord Lieutenant.
All the Buckingham Palace Garden Parties have been cancelled for 2021 & it is probably unlikely that the Hillsborough Garden Party will be held this year although it is still just about possible that it could be held in the autumn.
The 2020 ceremonies to award the Queen's Award to Enterprise & the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service were all postponed. It is very much hoped that the Awards to Lowden Guitars Ltd, Technical Metals Group Ltd & Portico will go ahead sometime this summer. There are 6 possible QAVS award winners in County Down in 2021 but we will not know the results of this until around May or June.
We still do not know how the honours presentation ceremonies both in Northern Ireland & in London will proceed. Obviously at the present time they have had to be held over. Those offered a BEM last year were able to choose to have the medal posted to them or to have a private ceremony. It is not known yet what the plans for 2021 will be.