New Vice Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire: Colonel adds county title to stunning CV
Shirley Tart introduces the new Vice Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire.
So on we go, the line unbroken. And in in this case from one Colonel to another as the county welcomes Colonel Mark Cuthbert-Brown to the role of Vice Lord Lieutenant.
He is already known in many areas of Shropshire life, is a charming companion and comes with a more than interesting career past. But Mark says: “I’m still hoping that I’m up to it. I am just a little bit hesitant.”
Hesitant, maybe, but surely well equipped to be the latest candidate for this special, county appointment.
He says: “It was very surprising when the post was first aired but when the Lord Lieutenant actually asked me, I was of course thrilled that he had the confidence to think I could do it.”
Having grown up in the Home Counties, in 1977 Mark was commissioned from Sandhurst into the Royal Military Police and so began what many would see as an extraordinary career.
Among many appointments, he served three tours in Northern Ireland, has been an infantry platoon commander and seen service in Berlin. He says: “Remarkable memories include meeting the gaze of an infirm Rudolf Hess during his move from Spandau to the nearby British Military Hospital and during the South Atlantic conflict, managing the custody of Alfredo Astiz – the only prisoner of war brought to Britain since 1945.”
Mark was commissioned into the Royal Military Police from Sandhurst in 1977, and after an already significant career by then, was promoted to the rank of Colonel 2000. He has a Queen’s Commendation for Bravery and after time spent on service in Shropshire, quickly grew to love the county and kept a couple of rented rooms on a Nesscliffe farm for when he could escape and come back to draw breath, as it were.
He has two children from his marriage to Ros (“we remain on good terms”) - daughter Samantha is a chartered surveyor and son Daniel, a constable with Surrey police – as well as four grandchildren.
Over the years, he has been part of attachments in many parts of this country – including three years as principal staff officer for personnel, quartering and logistic issues in Shrewsbury’s Copthorne Barracks.
He says: “It was during that time, greatly appreciating the warm welcome received from Salopians, that I decided to eventually settle in the county.”
While there were many overseas appointments from Berlin to Iraq. And in June next year, Mark already has a very important diary date – a wedding. He is to marry his partner Jayne Day who served in the Royal Air Force and who is now an IT Services Manager.
And so the hands of time move on as Col Mark moves in to support Lord Lieutenant Sir Algernon Heber-Percy in serving, promoting as well as thanking and honouring Shropshire for all the county does, perhaps particularly in the world of volunteering and care for others.
And again, the deputies look forward very much to working with him.
In Shropshire’s case, all the military and service experience and knowledge gathered in, and now available in the wider world, is a very special gift.
And Mark Cuthbert-Brown will now be helping further a team which is dedicated to putting our county first.
Away from a fine and varied Army career which also included being Commandant of the Royal School of Music and instructing at the US Army School in Alabama for instance, he still is occupied with many projects including writing about Rwanda and that horrific genocide of the last century. While not surprisingly, his many interests include military history “though lacking some academic depth on that one,” he says.
Mark has also had ‘non-clinical roles’ with the St John Ambulance Brigade, in Germany and in London and nowadays, in his adopted county, as co-ordinator of the Parish Paths Partnership for Kinnerley, he can sometimes be found installing gates and maintaining stiles on footpaths.
He also chairs the Shropshire appeal of ABF, the Soldiers Charity, is on the committee of the Shropshire Horticultural Society and, in another role, belongs to the Shropshire Horticultural Society and is a board member of the Daimler and Lanchester Owners’ Club.
What you might call a good all-rounder now ready to play his fuller part in the county team!
Vice Lord Lieutenant steps down
As he marked his birthday this past weekend, so Colonel Edmund Thewles also officially stepped down as Shropshire’s Vice Lord Lieutenant.
He has held the position as deputy to Lord Lieutenant, Sir Algernon Heber-Percy for 10 years but the rules say when you reach 75, retirement is obligatory and this past weekend, Col Thewles arrived at the big birthday.
But while he can take a bit of a breather, the good news for the lieutenancy and the county is that Shropshire is not losing him altogether. He and his wife Caroline live in Shrewsbury and are involved in many areas of county life.
And in his time as Vice Lord Lieutenant, Edmund Thewles has not only won friends but also hearts along the way. Sir Algy values the quiet but so significant a contribution he has made and those of us who are privileged to be Shropshire deputy lieutenants have learned so much from his wise counsel and willing, courteous help.
At his retirement evening, Sir Algy spoke warmly of all that Col Thewles had done for him, for the lieutenancy and for so many areas of county life.
Col Thewles reflected: “It is for sure that any contribution I have made in my appointment has been totally outweighed by the opportunities I have been afforded as a comparatively recent and previously Nomadic incomer, to get to know something of my adoptive county and its many facets and none more so than our spectacularly industrious and selfless voluntary sector.
“It has been a privilege and an education to meet so many people of all ages and circumstances who contribute massively to the wellbeing of our county, be it local government, the uniformed services, our school, colleges and universities or the myriad of diverse professions and callings which abound throughout this county.
“I am immensely proud of Shropshire and its peerless sense of community, typified by its concern and caring for the more vulnerable within our society.
“I have grown to love my adoptive county and look forward to many more years in which I hope to continue to make some useful contribution.”
Sigh of relief all round then for the many who admire him very much!
Because the man who spent 32 years as a soldier has become as valued to many in our county as Shropshire is to him.
He added: “I’m a fifth generation nomad but when we moved as a family into Shrewsbury I became involved in different areas of life and I first met the Lord Lieutenant when I invited him to be a Voluntary Colonel which he agreed. A few years later, he invited me to be a Deputy Lieutenant and in 2007, he asked me to take over as Vice Lord Lieutenant.
“And over these past 10 years, it has been an absolute ball. I have loved it all!”