The Wokingham Paper

High Steward Lady Elizabeth retires after 26 years’ service to Wokingham

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Lady Elizabeth with her daughter Lucy Zeal. PIC BY STEWART TURKINGTON
Cllr Gwynneth Hewetson leads tributes to Lady Elizabeth Godsal as she retires as Wokingham’s High StewardLady Elizabeth with her daughter Lucy Zeal. PIC BY STEWART TURKINGTON

Wokingham’s High Steward has retired after 26 years of service to the town.

Late last month, Wokingham Town Council celebrated Lady Elizabeth Godsal’s service to the town with a special afternoon tea at the Town Hall.

For the event, Lady Elizabeth was surrounded by family, friends and invited guests from local organisations and charities she has met throughout the years.

Cllr Gwynneth Hewetson was on hand as Councillor, former Mayor and friend to lead the proceedings and was joined by fellow past mayors to present Lady Elizabeth with a silver Acorn pin broach to commemorate her service to the town.

Occasions Singers performed a medley of popular songs, finishing with the song Unforgettable by Nat King Cole.

At the gathering, Lady Elizabeth said: “I am delighted and flattered to see so many people here today. I am sad to be stepping down but I have enjoyed my time so much and loved getting to know so many people.”

John Griffin from The Wokingham Society – a group that Lady Elizabeth is president of – wrote a thank you note for the event.

It read: “I wish to say how much I enjoyed the tea party in honour of Lady Elizabeth. It was a joyous and fitting tribute to a wonderful person. She has a profound awareness of what civic duty and responsibility mean and she is an inspiration to us all. We are very fortunate to have her as our President.

“We had an afternoon filled with splendid music, laughter and nostalgia and it was an honour to be there.”

Mary Bayliss, the former Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire, also paid tribute to Lady Elizabeth for her service.

She said: “What a great party the Town Council gave yesterday for Lady Elizabeth – it was such a happy afternoon.

“There was a delicious tea, excellent entertainment and old friends to see. It was a lovely thing for the Council to do and I know that Elizabeth was very touched by the kindness she received.”

Lady Elizabeth has worked closely with not only the Town Council but also with so many organisations and individuals. The Town Council said that it felt privileged that Lady Elizabeth has been so involved with the town during this time and her advice and support will be sorely missed.

Cllr Hewetson said: “It was a very happy gathering, albeit, for a sad occasion at the Town Hall. The Main Hall looked magnificent as past Mayors and representatives from a number of organisations around the Town joined Lady Elizabeth Godsal for her farewell tea party.

“This was to be her final, informal engagement as High Steward of our Town; a position she has assiduously carried out for 26 years.

“Everyone enjoyed the event, especially Lady Elizabeth and the volume of chatter competed with the wonderful singers. It was an afternoon to remember and a fitting tribute to a very special Lady.”

Wokingham has had a High Steward for 400 years but Lady Elizabeth has been the first lady.

The original High Steward was Sir Henry Neville who was Lady Elizabeth’s nine times Great Grandfather and a number of descendants from the family have carried out the role.

Lady Elizabeth’s daughter, Lucy Zeal, will succeed her Mother in this Honorary position from later this month and the Town Council is delighted that the Neville family connection will be maintained.

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