Louise Bennett OBE has been appointed as Vice Lord-Lieutenant to the West Midlands’ Lord-Lieutenant, Sir John Crabtree OBE. The role of Vice Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands is for a three-year term and involves assisting the Lord-Lieutenant in the performance of his duties.
Louise - a former Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce - succeeds Professor Helen Higson OBE, Professor of Higher Education Learning and Management at Aston University, whose three-year term included Coventry’s Capital of Culture in in 2021 and the Commonwealth Games in 2022 and in particular, saw her champion opportunities for disadvantaged young people.
Louise, whose career has spanned both the private and public sectors including working for the National Health Service and in the retail sector, was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands in 2014. She was High Sheriff of the County of the West Midlands in 2021 and was recently appointed Chair of the High Sheriff Nominations Committee for the West Midlands. She sits on the High Sheriff Association’s Council of England and Wales and is a Trustee of Crimebeat - a charity supported by the High Sheriff Association.
From 2003 to December 2022, she was Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. She is also President of Warwickshire College University Centre, a pro bono post she has held since October 2022.
With a strong commitment to young people, Louise has also held voluntary positions with school, college and university boards, as well as being a career and enterprise adviser in the West Midlands. As approved foster carers, Louise and her husband also welcome young people into their home with the aim of providing a safe environment, warmth, support and a real commitment to raising young people’s aspirations in life. For more than a decade, Louise and her family have fostered several children from the West Midlands.
In 2007, Louise was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for her services to business.
Commenting on her appointment, Louise said:
"I am honoured to be appointed Vice Lord-Lieutenant and in particular am looking forward to working with the Lord-Lieutenant to continue supporting the communities of the West Midlands.
“I have a particular interest in young people, skills and enterprise and intend to continue the invaluable work of the Lieutenancy to enable more people to benefit from the many opportunities that this great region can offer.”
The Lord-Lieutenant, Sir John Crabtree, added:
"I am greatly looking forward to working with Louise whose passion for the West Midlands and its varied communities is evident from her extensive and varied work to date. I would also like to thank Professor Higson who has worked incredibly hard during a remarkable period in the West Midlands as we have recovered from the pandemic and welcomed many thousands of visitors to our region whilst engaging with so many different groups.”
Prof Higson, who steps down as Vice Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands, said:
“I wish Louise great enjoyment in her role and know she will work hard with the Lord-Lieutenant in serving the communities of the West Midlands representing His Majesty The King. I have particularly enjoyed meeting people from across the region in schools, care homes and community events. This opportunity has given me an added respect for the armed forces in our region. I now look forward to continuing to support the Lord-Lieutenant in my position as a Deputy Lieutenant for the West Midlands.”
The West Midlands Lieutenancy is the second largest lieutenancy in England and Wales, supporting a population of nearly 3 million people across the seven local authorities of Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton.
The Lord-Lieutenant is The King’s representative for the region and in addition to supporting visits by the Royal Family, has a community role to support initiatives that help the region and to recognise people and organisations that help others. The Lieutenancy also supports the Honours system and engages with many partners to promote Honours and encourage nominations that can be made by anyone to acknowledge the many wonderful contributions so many people make. These include individual Honours, awards for charities and volunteers through The King’s Award for Voluntary Service and for business through The King’s Award for Enterprise.
For further information on the West Midlands Lieutenancy visit www.wmlieutenancy.org.