Queen’s representative in North Yorkshire picks her new team

A pillar of the British establishment it may be, but as of today the Lieutenancy of England’s largest county numbers among its ranks a Texan and a US-educated racing driver.

Jo Ropner, Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.  Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Jo Ropner, Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Jo Ropner, the businesswoman appointed the Queen’s representative in North Yorkshire in 2018, said she had chosen her four latest deputies in the name of social and geographical diversity.

“For me its very important to get a proper balance,” she said. “This is the largest lieutenancy in the country and my deputies are my eyes and ears, from Scarborough to Coverdale. I wanted to draw them from as wide a spectrum as possible.”

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Thus, Linda Fenwick and Nigel Corner join a team of Deputy Lieutenants that also takes in the broadcaster Harry Gration and the Dean of Ripon.

Jo Ropner, Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Mrs Fenwick is a “shell artist” born in Pittsburgh and raised in Dallas, who moved to York in 1986 with her British husband, James Fenwick, part of the Fenwick department store dynasty. She makes furnishings from seaside shells, which she sources from around the world.

She has recently completed a year-long term as High Sheriff of North Yorkshire, an ancient ceremonial office which supports the judiciary and local charities.

Mr Corner is a businessman educated at Hartford University in Connecticut, who competed in international motor sport for 12 years and is a life member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

Mrs Ropner, whose appointment as Lord Lieutenant in 2018 followed the death of her predecessor, the businessman Barry Dodd, in a helicopter crash, said she hoped her deputies, all of whom required the Queen’s agreement to take office, would help “shine a light” on those who had made extraordinary contributions to life before, during and after the quarantine.

“Having endured weeks of lockdown, we can still say that we are all the richer and luckier for being in North Yorkshire,” she said. “Communities have never been stronger or more resourceful. But the recovery will be a long one and there’s no doubt that it will come at a huge cost to tourism, pubs and other businesses.”

Royal visits, which the Lieutenancy oversees, would have taken in next month’s national event in Scarborough to mark Armed Forces’ Day, but Mrs Ropner hoped that recognition for deserving organisations would continue regardless.

“Never more have people needed to be encouraged that they are going in the right direction,” she said.

Her other new deputies, named today, are retired head teacher and schools inspector Isobel Nixon, and the banker and environmentalist Professor David Hill.

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