The new Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire says she wants to use the historic role to boost local communities in turbulent times.
Successful businesswoman Jo Ropner said there were many ways in which this unpaid ceremonial role could be of practical benefit to the county.
She said: “With all these external ructions going on, I would like to try to encourage a feeling of community pride.
“It’s important we knit communities together and make everyone proud of North Yorkshire and where we live.
“I think the role can be used for the good of the county.”
As someone heavily involved in the voluntary and charitable sectors, as well as being a director of New England Seafood International and the marketing director for Camp Hill Ltd, the corporate event and outdoor adventure business she runs at Bedale with her husband Robert, Mrs Ropner said she was particularly looking forward to the charity aspect of the role.
She said she was standing in the shadow of the great work of her predecessor, the late Barry Dodd CBE who tragically died in a helicopter crash in North Yorkshire last May.
“I’ve got big boots to fill after Barry, which was an awful tragedy.
“It was a huge honour to be appointed. I was utterly astonished when I found out. I did have a moment where I talked it through to make sure it wasn’t just going to be something that was good for me but something that would be good for North Yorkshire.”
Dating from the 1500s, historically, each lieutenant was originally responsible for organising the county’s militia.
These days, the Lord-Lieutenant heads up the promotion of civic, commercial, voluntary and social activities within the county, as well as helping organise royal visits as the British monarch’s personal representative.
Mrs Ropner said: “People don’t always understand the power of a royal visit to a community. They work incredibly hard and bring a real boost in a lot of practical ways.”
The first woman ever to be appointed a Lord-Lieutenant in the north was as recently as 2004 but Jo said she saw the issue of gender as irrelevant.
She said: “I hope I was appointed because of who I am and what I’ve achieved rather than being a woman. I’ve worked in businesses heavier with men than women and it’s never bothered me. It’s irrelevant in this day and age.”