Many tributes have been made to the former Lord Lieutenant Allan Willett CMG CVO who retired as is customary on his 75th birthday on 24 August 2011.
His successor, The Viscount De L’Isle MBE, said: “I have greatly enjoyed my fifteen year ‘apprenticeship’ as a Deputy Lieutenant, nine of those as Allan Willett’s Vice Lord Lieutenant.
“When Her Majesty The Queen appointed Allan on the advice of the Prime Minister a decade ago, they made a choice that was, as they say, out of the box, yet truly inspired.
“The Monarchy itself was modernising to ensure its relevance in the 21st Century, and both the Palace and Number Ten made it clear that they wanted the County Lieutenancies to march in step.
“In our corner, that required someone with a great love of our County. Someone with an incisive, innovative mind, considerable organisational skills, and above all a leader prepared to devote the best part of ten years of his life to Kent.
“In you they found the perfect match: the creator of Willett International, a man who had given many years to public sector work – much of it here in support of regeneration; and a man with deep roots here who truly loves Kent.
“You formed a team, of which I was proud to be a member, and set about modernising and reforming the Lieutenancy – succeeding to the point where Kent has become a by-word for best practice and leadership nationwide, a shining example to all other counties.
“You will be long remembered, too, for the highly successful campaigns you inspired: calling for greater public support for the Forces of the Crown and their families; celebrating youth achievement, and promoting volunteering in the community.
“Your philanthropy has also been outstanding: to Canterbury and Rochester Cathedrals, to the Marlowe Theatre and Turner Contemporary, which we can be confident will both become significant economic engines helping to drive East Kent forward – and to many, many other voluntary community-based causes County-wide.
“This great quality of generosity extends to the Lieutenancy itself and the County, which you leave with, among many other things, the legacy of what have already become great Kentish traditions: the Civic Service and Spirit of Kent Award.
“The truth is that no-one has lived up more to the criteria for the Spirit of Kent than you. You have led the Lieutenancy in representing not only the spirit, but the very soul of our great County.
“We also pay heartfelt tribute to Anne for all her support to Allan and through him the Lieutenancy and the people of Kent over this past decade.
“I know how proud you have been to represent Her Majesty in our County, and how you treasure the memories of her visits to Kent.
“Perhaps the greatest compliment I, as the new Lord Lieutenant, can pay to Allan is that I intend to continue to pursue the aims and aspirations he set in motion when he set out on his wonderful journey with the people of Kent in 2002.” – Viscount De L’Isle.
“In your nine years you have transformed the Lieutenancy of Kent. You have been, alongside your wife Anne, totally dedicated to the job and exceptionally generous with your time. You have touched hearts and put a smile on so many faces. And your lead on the support to the Armed Forces in Kent and encouragement to young people has been second to none.” – Paul Carter, Leader Kent County Council.
“Both of you have given us encouragement as you shared the resources of your lives with Kent. May you have many happy years of activity amongst us still because you will be beloved members of this community.” – The Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury.
“His vision, decisiveness, clarity of thought, leadership, humanity and philanthropy have been an inspiration to us all. Bearing in mind Allan’s highly successful business career, it comes as no surprise that he has applied the same energy and “can-do” attitude to the running of the Lieutenancy. The many initiatives aimed at making the Lieutenancy understandable by, and relevant to, the people of Kent bears testimony to this energy.
The impact that Allan Willett has had not only upon the County of Kent, but also the South-East of England in general, from his days as Founding Chairman of the South East England Development Agency, will be felt for many years to come. The thrust of Allan’s mission has been to modernize, to change things for the good and not just to be moving with the times, but to be ahead of them. He is truly an inspiration to us all.” – Frank Martin DL.
“I would like to congratulate you on the splendid service you have rendered to the Lieutenancy in bringing it from an ancient anachronism to a living service to the whole of the county.” – Colonel U H B Alexander MBE DL DCL.