Dame Mary to leave her royal role as Hampshire's Lord Lieutenant

Daily Echo: Dame Mary Fagan Dame Mary Fagan

SHE has welcomed royals, attended countless engagements and must have shaken more hands than anyone else in Hampshire.

But after 20 years of tireless service, Hampshire’s Lord Lieutenant, Dame Mary Fagan, is set to retire.

For two decades Dame Mary has so often been the first person to greet high-profile dignitaries visiting the county.

The Queen, Prince Charles and Princess Anne are among the royals she has given a warm welcome to over the years.

She will retire on her 75th birthday in September next year.

As the Queen’s representative in Hampshire since 1994, and as patron or president to more than 60 organisations, Dame Mary is a familiar sight at engagements.

Winchester and Chandler’s Ford MP Steve Brine was most recently with Dame Mary at the laying of the wreaths on Remembrance Sunday.

He said: “Hers will be one extraordinary pair of shoes to fill.

“I’ve been very fortunate to know her over many years and aside from her exhausting work rate, which would stretch those many years her junior, she has that priceless ability to connect with everyone she meets and put them at complete ease. She’ll be a big loss for Hampshire.”

As High Sheriff of Hampshire, Rupert Younger is a man well placed to comment on performing duties in the county.

He said: “I have worked closely with her and am in awe of her energy, enthusiasm, commitment to the county, and her incredible ability to get things done.”

Dame Mary’s duties include organising royal visits to Hampshire and she often attends engagements with her husband, Captain Christopher Fagan.

A spokesman at her office confirmed that she is to step down, but did not wish to comment further.

Her successor has not been chosen yet, but the Government’s Cabinet Office will begin consulting people in Hampshire to find a replacement.

The post of Lord-Lieutenant was created by Henry VIII in the 1540s. They were to be his officers in their respective counties, raising local militia units on behalf of the king.

Dame Mary is also Chancellor of the University of Winchester and sources there say that she will step down from that role in 2015.

Sophie Farmer, 21, from Badger Farm, is president of the Student Union at Winchester.

She said: “I met her at my graduation and she was a wonderful lady.

“I was on a music scholarship and she commented on how nice it was that I was contributing music to the university.”

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