AFTER 20 years as the Queen’s representative in Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan will leave her post on Thursday.
The committed Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire was appointed in January 1994 and has since carried out 5,000 visits to charities.
She has also hosted 800 Royal visits.
Last night, civic leaders from across the county attended a ceremony in the Great Hall in Winchester to bid her farewell.
Dame Mary said: ‘Hampshire has a strong volunteering base and I never cease to be amazed at the dedication and commitment shown by the volunteers.
‘I shall certainly miss meeting the people who work so hard to make Hampshire the vibrant and successful county that it is.
‘Working with so many organisations with dedicated staff and volunteers has been a very special experience.’
Dame Mary is a patron and president of 60 organisations.
She holds the rank of Honorary Read Admiral in the Royal Navy Reserve, and Honorary Colonel for 457 Battery, Royal Artillery in Southampton and Honorary Colonel of 103 Battalion REME(V).
Dame Mary will retire on Thursday and her deputy Nigel Atkinson will take over.
She added: ‘In my 20 years I have seen many changes and such is the nature of life.
‘I am, however, confident that with the ingenuity and hard-working people of Hampshire the county will continue to thrive and prosper for many years to come.’
At the event last night, Dame Mary was honoured with a beating retreat by the Band of the Scots Guard. The special reception was organised by Hampshire County Council and was attended by hundreds of invited guests from the organisations she has served.
The leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry, hosted the event.
He said: ‘Dame Mary has served Hampshire with charm, energy and a dedication to service, and an expression of goodwill rarely matched in public life.
‘She has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of so many residents across the whole county including the cities of Portsmouth and Southampton.’
Portsmouth’s lord mayor, Councillor Steven Wylie, was among the invitees from the city.
He said: ‘It was a really lovely event. Congratulations to Nigel who will take over the role. She will be a hard act to follow.
‘We had a dinner in the city for Dame Mary about a month ago to celebrate all she had achieved for the city.’