Meet Islington's new deputy lieutenant, Michael Messinger
- Credit: Michael Messinger
The man entrusted to be the Queen's "eyes and ears" in Islington is looking forward to the lifting of coronavirus regulations so he can get out to meet and help people.
Michael Messinger took on the role as representative deputy lieutenant in November - but has not yet donned his ceremonial outfit as the country has been in lockdown ever since.
He is one of 100 deputy lieutenants who answer to the Queen's personal representative in Greater London, lord-lieutenant Sir Kenneth Olisa OBE.
The role dates back to the time of Henry VIII, when 98 lord lieutenants across the country were responsible for raising militias to keep the peace before the advent of the police force. Now, the role is purely ceremonial.
Michael, 74, whose former job as a police officer is entirely coincidental, told the Gazette: "It’s a great privilege to be given the role, and I’m really looking forward to doing the very best I can to support the borough and the people in it in any way I can.
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"The lord-lieutenant appoints his or her deputies, and exactly why I was appointed I’m not sure, but I was offered the opportunity and I was very grateful and honoured to accept."
Michael is already familiar with Islington through his role as chief volunteer and trustee for St John Ambulance in Clerkenwell.
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He moved to London aged 19 to join the Met, and retired 40 years later in 2006.
Throughout that time, he carried out uniformed policing in central London, dealing with public order, ceremonial events and public safety, and was involved in the funerals of Princess Diana and the Queen Mother, and the millennium celebrations.
Michael once met the Queen after the Paddington rail crash in 1999, and a couple of other times "fleetingly".
He was appointed to succeed Charles Goodson-Wickes at the end of last year.
"Of course Covid has put a bit of a bosh on things," said Michael.
"I’ve met various organisations virtually, and I’m Zooming and I’m telephoning.
"I think it’s important that we all do what the government tells us to do, to keep everyone safe, but I’m greatly looking forward to when we can operate in a more unrestricted way so I can get around to meet people and do what I can to help them."