I shall always remember the day in 1999 when John Bush, the then High Sheriff, asked me if I would become a trustee of a new charity that had been set up in Wiltshire the previous year, and as a resident of that wonderful county, I accepted with alacrity!
My husband, The Prince of Wales, had initiated a meeting of all the chief constables in the U.K. to introduce the concept of a service that would help elderly and vulnerable people who had fallen victim to house crime, and as a result of this, the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust was the first of its kind to be established –but sadly now it is one of a few remaining.
After my marriage in 2005 I became the proud Patron of the Trust and in this role I hope that I have continued to play my part in this truly splendid Wiltshire charity. The Trust’s original aim was to secure the homes of elderly and disabled people who had become, or were at risk of becoming, victims of house crime. It offered practical help and advice on how to remain safe at home – the one place we should all feel secure.
Since then it has increased its remit to meet the changing needs of our community; it now installs and manages 80 covert cameras within the homes of the most vulnerable, and secures the houses of people experiencing domestic abuse by a partner, which, I know, is a vital lifeline for those victims.
But it is probably its latest initiative, 'Stay Safe Online', that meets the current challenges of modern day life, as cyber-crime is now the Nation’s fastest growing crime. The Trust has a team of 7 volunteers who carry out home visits across the county, improving awareness through education, which hopefully will help prevent computer fraud in the future.
It may surprise you to learn that the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust has secured over 25,000 homes in the county and I believe that we have a dedicated and superbly efficient team that deserves our praise and recognition. It is responsive, dynamic and versatile and it still continues to work very closely with the police to make Wiltshire a safer place in which to live. The charity does not work in isolation but cooperates efficiently with a wide variety of other organisations and it seems to me to be a great oversight that other counties in the UK do not to follow Wiltshire's shining example.
But Ladies and Gentleman we are here tonight to celebrate its 20th Anniversary and I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to you all for your support over the years and especially this evening. Charities like the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust are at the backbone of our society and can only continue their good work through the generosity of people like yourselves – so thank you again for supporting us.