The Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Sue Lousada, is a seasoned businesswoman with a scientific background and a hands-on approach to getting things done. She’s also a true ambassador for business in the county, determined to use her post to “shine a light on the good that is in Bedfordshire.”
We were lucky enough to get some time in Sue’s busy schedule to ask about the Lord-Lieutenant’s duties, her strategic plans for the role, and why local business is at the heart of her vision.
Interviewer: Good morning! Could we perhaps start by asking you what the Lord-Lieutenant does, and why it’s important?
LL: Good morning! The Lord-Lieutenant is the Monarch’s representative in the county, so I’m responsible for organising royal visits and related events (including my Coronation Garden Party in July), and locally administering the State Honours system – as well as managing the King’s Awards for Enterprise and King’s Award for Voluntary Service.
That perhaps makes me sound a lot less accessible than I am, but I’m also available to support local charitable causes and officiate at parties and openings, amongst many other ceremonial appearances!
On a more fundamental level, I’m here to serve the county and thank people (often the unsung heroes) for the good they do here, and to build bridges, including between local organisations and businesses, so they can operate more effectively.
Interviewer: Is business now a focus for the Lord-Lieutenancy?
LL: It’s certainly a focus for me in this role because that’s my background. My husband Simon and I started our own business, which grew to three depots and over 100 employees, so I know the challenges involved in making a small business work.
And because our business was local, enabling other businesses in Bedfordshire to overcome those challenges and grow means a lot to me.
Interviewer: What are your strategic plans for the office of Lord-Lieutenant?
LL: Supporting individuals and organisations to grow is absolutely key to all of it.
For me that means, amongst other things, driving opportunities for young people. Many of our local businesses are crying out for contact with the talent of tomorrow, and many of our young people are in need of skills acquisition, confidence development, and familiarisation with the adult world. One idea is to organise visitor programmes between local companies and schools, so we can hopefully enable both of them to grow, in different ways.
The Lieutenancy is also launching a pilot business mentoring scheme towards the end of the year, in collaboration with The Growth Hub, to encourage businesses to share insights on growth and business issues with other businesses, to achieve better, faster business outcomes.
We shouldn’t forget either that, in Cranfield University, we have a world-class higher education institution on our doorstep, and I’ll be working hard to build on previous good work by organisations like SEMLEP and the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce to connect academic expertise to the business community.
Interviewer: You mentioned the King’s Awards for Enterprise. Where do the Awards fit into your strategy going forward?
LL: My strategy will be to encourage more local businesses and organisations to enter the Awards by making good use of my exceptionally experienced Deputy Lieutenants to help them with the applications process.
The Awards are hugely important and our number of successes show that this small county punches way beyond its weight in innovation and achievement.
Bedfordshire has so many lovely people, quietly doing wonderful things, we also have many successful businesses, small, medium, and large. I look forward to helping them all receive the recognition and credit they thoroughly deserve.
Interviewer: Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Sue Lousada – thank you so much for your time and thoughts today.
LL: It’s been a pleasure.
For more information on how to join Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, visit www.chamber-business.com, or call 01582 522448.