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Mike Colston from Great Missenden is Chairman of Buckinghamshire County Council for the coming year. In addition to his responsibilities to his electorate, he will represent the council at numerous events in his civic role – his diary is pretty full already! Keep up to date with where he’s visited and the people he’s met in this weekly column.
I do consider it an honour as Buckinghamshire County Council Chairman to wear a rather impressive insignia on my visits, bearing the county's coat of arms.
This palm-sized medal contains a wealth of history about our beautiful county, and wherever I wear it, people - especially schoolchildren - ask what the insignia represents. So, here's the history bit!
The coat of arms of Buckinghamshire dates back to the 12th Century. Its shield features a white swan bound in a chain. The chain illustrates that the swan is bound and protected by our Monarch, under an ancient law that still applies to wild swans today. Since the 12th Century, every July, the Queen's Swan Marker conducts a census on the numbers of young cygnets along the River Thames, to ensure the swan population is maintained.
The arms on this shield were first borne by the Duke of Buckingham at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 when King Henry V of England defeated a French Army. On either side of the shield is a deer and swan. Above the swan is the Whiteleaf Cross, representing our ancient landmarks and above that is a beech tree, for which Buckinghamshire is famous.
And last, but not least, the Latin motto Vestigia Nulla Retrorsum may be translated as ‘No stepping back’- an instruction which carried great significance in the days when armies fought sword to sword and shield to shield!
I received a history lesson of a more personal kind recently, when I attended the presentation of awards for meritorious service to Buckinghamshire's armed forces reserve and cadets, by Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant. It's a great achievement to be selected for this award, and it was a privilege to attend the ceremony at RAF High Wycombe, to see these fine volunteers honoured.
The ceremony did bring back memories of my own youthful activities in my school combined cadet force and then my time in National Service when I drilled, learned firearms discipline and worked at a trade. Back then, all young men did two years' compulsory military service, called National Service. This ended in 1960 in the UK, but it still remains in place today in quite a few countries.
The ceremony also reminded me of Remembrance Sunday, which falls this year on November 13, when we remember and pay tribute to those who have given their lives for us.
For me, to see the turnout of the award winners and listen to their own efforts and achievements was fantastic. These young people are our future and it's absolutely right we should celebrate their achievements.
Last time, I mentioned my old gavel, having become something of a liability due to its tendency for the head to fly off, was being replaced. One reader asked if I was planning to auction off the now-defunct model.
With regret, no such auction is to be held - the 'flying gavel' will be consigned to history, along with other County Council memorabilia.