THE SALVATION ARMY OF SAVANNAH PREPARES FOR HURRICANE IAN’S HISTORIC IMPACT

SAVANNAH, GA. – September 29, 2022 –The Salvation Army of Savannah is preparing resources and personnel to meet the immediate needs of survivors and first responders as Hurricane Ian departs Florida after its historic landfall. Ian comes just days after Hurricane Fiona ravaged Puerto Rico, where The Salvation Army is still serving survivors and first responders. As Hurricane Ian is tracking toward Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp has declared a state of emergency, and The Salvation Army of Savannah is on standby.

 

Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall as a Category 4 storm the night of Wednesday, Sept. 28, on the west coast of Florida. If Ian stays on its projected path, it will mark the first direct impact of a hurricane in the area since 1921. Main concerns include a heavy storm surge leading to severe flooding conditions along the coastline. With the entire state of Florida now under a state of emergency. As Georgia is now under a state of emergency, The Salvation Army is “carefully monitoring Hurricane Ian and have mobile feeding units and disaster response teams along the Florida coast prepared to respond,” said Major Paul Egan, Officer for The Salvation Army of Savannah. Of those mobile feeding units, The Salvation Army of Georgia has 21 mobile feeding units and one field kitchen that is ready to mobilize. About 1 million residents are planning to evacuate ahead of landfall, The Salvation Army is positioning resources and personnel to respond to widespread needs as efficiently as possible, and The Salvation Army of Georgia is prepared to take in thousands of evacuees ahead of their anticipated arrival.

 

“Disaster relief is always about the long game,” said Lanita Lloyd, Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Director for The Salvation Army of Georgia. “It’s about helping people to get their houses and their communities rebuilt. It’s also about providing long-term emotional and spiritual care to disaster survivors as much as we can, because sometimes the recovery on the inside can be harder than the recovery on the outside.”

 

Disaster response updates can be found below:

Ian Prep/Initial Response:

     Nationally, The Salvation Army has as many as 37 mobile feeding units and one field kitchen ready to mobilize across the impacted area immediately after the worst effects of the storm are realized.

o  Each unit can feed 500-1,500 people per day.

       The Salvation Army has also started to serve some of the predicted 1M evacuees at a few shelters in Florida and Georgia.

       Two major warehouses in Tampa, Florida, and McDonough, Georgia, (near Atlanta) are being prepped with food, water, cleaning supplies, hygiene products, and anything else that will be needed by the thousands of people in the storm’s path. 

     In addition to these efforts, The Salvation Army of Savannah is providing meals and support to workers at the Emergency Operations Center while preparing for the local community’s response.

 

Due to the state of emergency announcement made by Gov. Brian Kemp, The Salvation Army disaster personnel are collaborating with federal, state, and local emergency management agencies and other social services organizations such as the Southern Baptist Feeding Kitchens to monitor ongoing impacts and adapt response efforts.

For more information about The Salvation Army of Savannah’s response in the local community, please contact Center of Hope Director Linda James at linda.james@uss.salvationarmy.org or 912-651-7420. To learn more about The Salvation Army’s continued response, visit disaster.salvationarmyusa.org.

To make a financial gift to support Hurricane relief efforts:

One-hundred percent of designated disaster donations go to direct services for survivors and first responders. At this time, we are not accepting gifts in kind.

 

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About The Salvation Army of Savannah

Since 1900, The Salvation Army of Savannah has been serving our community for 122 years.

 

About The Salvation Army USA: 

The Salvation Army annually helps more than 25 million Americans overcome poverty, addiction, and economic hardships through a range of social services. By providing food for the hungry, emergency relief for disaster survivors, rehabilitation for those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, and clothing and shelter for people in need, The Salvation Army is doing the most good at 7,200 centers of operation around the country. During times of disaster, 100% of designated donations to The Salvation Army are used for immediate response and long-term efforts. In 2021, The Salvation Army was ranked No. 2 on the list of “America’s Favorite Charities” by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. For more information, visit SalvationArmyUSA.org. Follow us on Twitter @SalvationArmyUS and #DoingTheMostGood.

INTRODUCING THE UK’S NEW PRIME MINISTER – LIZ TRUSS

Back in the land of my birth there is an old expression about noticing that you’re getting old when police officers start to look younger. This resonated with me recently as I realized that the UK’s new Prime Minister is almost a decade younger than me! Of course, here in the USA I don’t have those kind of worries since our President will be 80 years old this November.

I admit to being rather pleased when, for the third time in history, a woman became Prime Minister in the UK, having won the recent leadership contest to become Leader of the Conservative Party. Liz Truss follows in the footsteps of Margaret Thatcher who was Prime Minister from 1979-1990 and Theresa May from 2016-2019. In the UK there is no general election among citizens to decide who the next Prime Minister will be, as we do here to elect the President of the USA. That is because the UK has a parliamentary democracy – a form of government in which the party (or a coalition of parties) with the largest representation in the parliament (similar to the House of Representatives) forms the government, with that party’s leader becoming Prime Minister. So, in simplistic terms, the Members of Parliament (MPs) decide among themselves who will lead them. If the electorate doesn’t like the Prime Minister, they simply vote that party out at the next general election.

Liz Truss, at the age of 47, replaced Boris Johnson as the UK’s leader of the Conservative party (which is closest to the Republican party here). It is fitting that another inspirational female leader, Queen Elizabeth II, did her duty until the end by formally inviting the incoming Prime Minister to form a new Government just two days before she passed away. This ceremony and tradition were so important to the late Queen that Liz Truss flew to the royal residence of Balmoral in Scotland as the Queen was not well enough to travel back to London, the traditional meeting place. Here is an amazing reminder of the Queen’s long reign: Liz Truss, her fifteenth Prime Minister, was born in 1975 and her first Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was born over 100 years earlier in 1874! It was also very poignant that one of Mrs. Truss’ first duties as Prime Minister was, on September 19, to represent the British government by reading a bible passage at the Queen’s funeral in Westminster Abbey.

So what is the story behind the UK’s new ‘Prime Minister, First Lord of Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service, and Minister for the Union’? Mary Elizabeth Truss was born in Oxford in the South of England, raised in Scotland and then later Yorkshire in the North of England.  Her mother was a nurse and teacher and her father a Professor of Mathematics. She attended the local comprehensive schools (what Americans call public schools), studied in Canada for a year and then went to England’s top-tier Oxford University. She started her career as an economist and accountant and then joined the Conservative party. She met her husband, Hugh O’Leary, in 1997 and they married in 2000. They have two teenage daughters. 

Her political life began when she was elected as a local councilor in London’s Greenwich in 2006, and then elected as an MP (a “Member of Parliament, which is the UK equivalent of a member of the US House of Representatives) for Southwest Norfolk in 2010. She was one of the first MPs of her “intake year” to enter Government just two years later and rose rapidly up the ranks, serving as Foreign Secretary before her election as Prime Minister. She is a huge fan of the USA and is committed to cutting taxes, enforcing law and order and cracking down on illegal immigration. She was very much elected on her own merits, achievements, and policies, and not because of the fact she is female. As the third female Prime Minister, I think I can safely say the UK has largely moved on from gender-based politics.

Liz Truss faces some pretty tough challenges entering office since Britain’s economy is stagnant, inflation is over 10% and the price of energy is predicted to rise by a massive 80% from a year ago. The new Prime Minister is committed to cut energy prices and has already made controversial decisions to cut income taxes and property taxes for both citizens and businesses. She believes that by cutting taxes, her government is “incentivizing businesses to invest and also helping ordinary people….”.  After an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper, they reported that “The prime minister embraced a Reagan-style ‘trickle-down’ approach to the economy throughout the Conservative leadership contest, arguing it was wrong to view all economic policy through the ‘lens of redistribution’”. There is more information at www.elizabethtruss.com and www.bbc.com.

I say goodbye this week with a quote from the new Prime Minister herself: “Britain and the US remain the Wild West for ideas, where pioneers push each other towards ever greater heights in the white heat of free enterprise. No one knows their place, no one fears failure and no one is ashamed of success!”

God Bless America, and go Liz Truss!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009.  She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at lesleyfrancispr.com.

200 CLUB OF THE COASTAL EMPIRE ANNOUNCES ANNUAL COMMUNITY HEROES GOLF TOURNAMENT – OCT. 26

SAVANNAH, GA – September 21, 2022 – Dozens of teams will hit the green and tee off early Wednesday, Oct. 26 for the 200 Club of the Coastal Empire’s annual Community Heroes Golf Tournament at The Club at Savannah Harbor, 2 Resort Drive. Many community volunteers have once again committed their time to help ensure the success of the event, which serves as a fundraiser for the nonprofit organization and acts to honor their mission of supporting the families of fallen first responders in 20 counties across The Low Country.

“Each year we are humbled by the amount of support and funds this tournament brings to our organization, but our ultimate goal with events like these is to raise awareness of what we do and raise the necessary funds to support the many families we serve.  To date, the 200 Club has provided nearly $4 million dollars to those families.  Dana said. “We are so grateful to have created this special event that everyone has come to look forward to every year. Without our sponsors, donors and volunteers consistently supporting us and our mission none of this would be possible.”

The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire honors the sacrifice that many first responders make for all of us by providing necessary support to the many families left behind.  As an organization, they proudly and honorably provide significant financial assistance, as well as fully paid college education to the surviving spouse and children of law enforcement officers and firefighters who lose their lives in the line of duty while protecting our communities.

The opening ceremony will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include visits from area first responders who will showcase their life-saving equipment. 200 Club President Mark Dana and other supporters will speak before golfers are dismissed to their carts and sent out on the green with a traditional kickoff shotgun blast at 9 a.m. During play, teams will compete for special hole in one prizes, raffles and the always competitive closest to the pin. Teams can enjoy food and drinks at comfort stations along the course and then lunch when play ends. 

A variety of golf tournament sponsorship opportunities are available, including a $300 GPS Hole Sponsorship, $150 Standard Hole Sponsorship, $700 Big Ticket Team, $1,200 Legacy Sponsorship, $2,000 Hero Sponsorship, and $5,000 Valor Sponsorship. A new sponsorship opportunity has been added to this year’s tournament, the $250 200 Club Beneficiary Hole Sponsor. These hole sponsorships will have a special sign that shows teams the college students that the 200 Club is currently supporting.  

For more information or to sign up for the golf tournament, please visit the 200 Club website at www.our200club.com or contact Frances Dana at frances@twohundredclub.org  

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, Allie Robinson at 912-547-3100 or allie@lesleyfrancispr.com, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

SAVE THE DATE: SAVANNAH VOICE FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES DATES FOR 11TH SEASON

SAVANNAH, GA – September 21, 2022 As the Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) brings its 10-year anniversary season to a close, the organization is excited to announce its return to the Hostess City for their eleventh annual Festival. The two-week festival will be held Aug. 6-20, 2023, at iconic various venues around Savannah.

SVF will feature a variety of musical performances from opera, musical theatre, and song. The line-up of events will include a main opera production, a musical theater show, a studio production, and a featured artist recital, in addition to Festival favorites such as the sacred concert, coffee concerts, and master classes. A full line-up of events will be released later in the year. Updates will be posted to SVF’s website.

Jorge Parodi, SVF artistic director and internationally acclaimed conductor, is looking forward to returning to Savannah for the organization’s eleventh season.

“We are thrilled with the success of our tenth season and can’t wait to do it all again next year,” Parodi said. “We already have several events in the works that I know our fans will adore. I love the support that all the wonderful artists and I feel every time we perform in this beautiful city, and I hope that we will see everyone again next year.”

For more information about the Festival, please call 855.766.7372, email info@savannahvoicefestival.org, or visit www.savannahvoicefestival.org

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Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. Donations are tax-deductible.

The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.

For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Beasley at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com, Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

PORT WENTWORTH CHAMBER OF COMMERCE HOSTS FORUM ON HWY 21 TRANSPORTATION ISSUES – TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR FALL LUNCH AND LEARN

09/22

PORT WENTWORTH, GA – September 20, 2022 –The Port Wentworth Chamber of Commerce will host its Fall Lunch & Learn event from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Wingate by Wyndham, located at 7210 GA Hwy 21, Port Wentworth, GA.

Attendees will receive a regional transportation update from guest speakers including Chester Ellis, Chairman of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, and Steve Davis, Port Wentworth City Manager, along with James Dickerson and Laura Conn, Construction Project Specialists with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“This informative luncheon will address questions regarding transportation and road improvements in Port Wentworth and our surrounding region,” said Chamber of Commerce Boad of Directors Vice Chair Vicki Waters. “We look forward to hearing from this knowledgeable group of guest speakers.”

Tickets for this limited-seating event can be purchased online via Eventbrite. The cost to register for this event is $12 for Chamber of Commerce members, or $15 for non-members. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit https://bit.ly/3BWCqxz.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Beasley at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457, or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

THE EXCHANGE CLUB OF RICHMOND HILL HOSTS 29TH ANNUAL FISHING DERBY

RICHMOND HILL, GA – Sept. 19, 2022 – The Richmond Hill Exchange Club will host their 29th Annual Lynn Bennett Kids Fishing Derby on Saturday, September 24th from 8:00 AM to Noon, at the Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery on GA Highway 144, between the library and Kroger.  Registration will begin at 8:00 AM, with fishing beginning at 8:30AM.  The derby is free of charge and open to children ages 15 and under, accompanied by their parents or adult guardian. Over the last two years, the Exchange Club has not been able to host this event due to the pandemic and they are excited to bring it back to the community this year. For the first time, the club will be honoring Lynn Bennett, a long time member who organized the derby for years prior to moving out of the area. 

Each year hundreds of children have enjoyed this event, and the Exchange Club expects another large turnout this year. The fishing derby will be at the Fish Hatchery ponds that have been stocked with catfish. Participants should bring fishing poles equipped and ready to fish, as well as bait, although a limited amount of bait and fishing poles will be available for use free of charge. Coke products will also be available at no charge for participants; courtesy of Savannah Coca Cola Bottling Company, and snacks courtesy of Publix and the Exchange Club members.

The Exchange Club Kids Fishing Derby is a collaboration with Georgia Department of Natural Resources Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery and occurs on Richmond Hill Fish Hatchery Outdoor Adventure Day as part of the 50th Anniversary of the federal National Hunting and Fishing Day. The DNR will have other great outdoor activities available for people of all ages on this same day. 

All area children ages 15 and under are encouraged to participate. Parents or guardians should complete an official entry form for each child and bring it to the Fishing Derby on September 24th. Entry forms will be available at the event.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the Facebook Page, look for Richmond Hill Exchange Club on Facebook. For more information, please contact Chris Raiford at 912-661-0208.

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For media inquiries, please contact Allie Robinson at allie@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-547-3100, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

 

ASBURY MEMORIAL CHURCH COMBINES THEATRE AND WORSIP IN THEIR ANNUAL GOD ON BROADWAY SERIES

10/22

SAVANNAH, GA – Sept. 19, 2022 – Asbury Memorial Church (AMC) has unveiled the lineup for their highly anticipated God on Broadway worship series, which will take place at every Sunday worship service in October. These unique services will combine sermons and liturgy with the themes and characters from popular Broadway shows. Sunday worship services will begin at 11:15 a.m. at Asbury Memorial Church, located at 1008 E. Henry Street, Savannah, GA 31401.

God on Broadway will kick-off Sunday, Oct. 2 with Amadeus, followed by The Kite Runner on Oct. 9. The series will continue with The Play That Goes Wrong on Oct. 16, Dog Sees God on Oct. 23, and conclude with To Kill a Mockingbird on Oct. 30.

Under the direction of Minister of Music, Ray Ellis, the Asbury Choir will perform songs that match the themes of the shows and the scripture selected for that particular Sunday. The sermons, preached by senior pastor, Rev. Billy Hester, will be inspired by both the biblical texts and the plots of the shows.

“This worship series has become a tradition in our church that the congregation looks forward to every year,” said Rev. Hester.  “We have a great lineup prepared this year and I hope to see some new faces in the congregation.”

Rev. Hester and his wife, Cheri, have acting experience from both on and off Broadway and love using their talents and their former careers as actors to enhance the worship experience. God on Broadway has been a mainstay at the church since 2005 and, each year, is popular with people who appreciate this innovative approach to sharing the Gospel and Christ’s love.

Asbury Memorial is a Christ-centered, forward-thinking, all-inclusive congregating that celebrates the joy of God creatively and is committed to remaining a welcoming and affirming congregation for all. The God on Broadway series is free and open to the public. For more information or to view segments from past God on Broadway worship services, please visit the God on Broadway page at www.asburymemorial.org.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Beasley at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457, or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

MARITIME BETHEL SAVANNAH TO HOST ANNUAL SAVANNAH MARITIME MATTERS 2022 FUNDRAISING EVENT

10/22

SAVANNAH, GA – SEPT. 19, 2022 – Maritime Bethel Savannah (MBS) will host their annual “Savannah Maritime Matters 2022” fundraising event Saturday, October 8 at The Palmetto Club at The Landings, located at 1 Cottonwood Drive, Savannah, GA 31411.

This event is slated for 6-9:30 p.m. and will include a cocktail hour, silent auction, dinner, dancing, and live music from the Fabulous Equinox Orchestra.

“Maritime Bethel has grown exponentially in the last year and that’s all because of our community’s generosity,” said John Houchens, Executive Director at MBS. “We’ve had a greater demand than ever before due to the growth of the Savannah port and want to assist more seafarers! Thank you to everyone who has donated their time, expertise and money in support of our mission.” The proceeds from this fundraising event will go towards helping seafarers in the Savannah Port and to support MBS’ vital Capital Campaign.

Tickets are on sale now via the MBS website, https://www.maritimebethelsavannah.com/. Individual seats and tables for 8 or 10 people are available. Sponsorship packages are also available ranging from $250 to $5,000. Please contact John Houchens at 912-398-0896 or john@maritimebethelsavannah.org for more information and benefits of becoming a sponsor.

Maritime Bethel Savannah is a nonprofit organization providing ‘far away from home’ personal and practical support to seafarers who come into the Savannah Port from all over the world. They are a faith-based organization that includes advocacy, spiritual, physical and emotional support. They are not affiliated with any one church or denomination. Each year they offer their ministry to the 78,000 men and women who call on the Port of Savannah. Those services include onboard chaplain visits, group worship, personal prayer and counseling, phone connections to home, purchase and delivery of personal supplies, and more. For more information on Maritime Bethel Savannah and their mission, please visit https://www.maritimebethelsavannah.com/home.

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For media inquiries, please contact Emily Vonck at 404-955-5418 or emily@lesleyfrancispr.com  Kristyn Beasley at 229-393-6457 or kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950 the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

SAVANNAH CLASSICAL ACADEMY STUDENT RESULTS EXCEED DISTRICT FOR 2022 GEORGIA MILESTONES ASSESSMENT SYSTEM (GMAS) SCORES

SAVANNAH, GA – Sept. 19, 2022 – Savannah Classical Academy (SCA) reports a stellar year for the charter school as the 2022 Georgia Milestones Assessment System (GMAS) scores have been released by The Georgia Department of Education. These assessments measure student proficiency in grades 3rd through 8th grades in a range of disciplines including math, reading, English language arts, science, and social studies. 

For 2022 SCA students outscored Savannah Chatham County Public School System students on all twenty-three common state assessments (GMAS) and also achieved parity or superior achievement when compared to all students in Georgia in all but six assessments. SCA scored exceptionally well in reading across all grades, reflecting the school’s commitment to literacy and in science and math, especially at the higher grades, due to the focus on their classical model of instruction with rigorous coursework.  SCA’s return to in person learning in August 2021 after all schools closed in spring 2020 semester due to the pandemic has proven to be a benefit to students as evidenced by these significant achievement outcomes.  SCA is a great investment and continues to be good stewards of Chatham County’s taxpayer dollars by delivering excellence both in the classroom and our community.

“SCA students are held to a high standard in their courses and are supported by teachers to meet expectations. It is clear that the dedication of students, teachers and families are essential elements to our successes” said SCA Chief Executive Officer Barry Lollis. “We value our excellent staff.  Their commitment is paramount to our students succeeding academically and development into productive citizens. We are proud of our teachers and students’ I look forward to more positive achievement outcomes through our community’s continued investment in and support of our school.”    

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Georgia Milestones Assessment System is a comprehensive summative assessment program and represents a single system of summative assessments that span all three levels of the state’s educational system – elementary, middle, and high school. The system is designed to send consistent signals about students’ preparedness for the next level, be it the next grade, course, or endeavor, such as entering college or beginning a career after leaving the K-12 educational system. 

It is the philosophy of Savannah Classical Academy that all students benefit from a rigorous, content-rich, educational program that develops academic potential and personal character. The school provides an environment that fosters academic excellence through the habits of thoroughness, the willingness to work, and the perseverance to complete difficult tasks. Through a defined traditional, Classical-Liberal curriculum, students are prepared to become active, responsible members of their community.

For more information about Savannah Classical Academy, please visit www.savannahclassicalacademy.org.

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For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Fielding at kristyn@lesleyfrancispr.com or 229-393-6457, Lesley Francis at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com or 912-429-3950, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).

THANK YOU AND REST IN PEACE QUEEN ELIZABETH II

Last week, the world lost a much-loved iconic leader and a massively stabilizing influence. Like most British people, I now feel like a little piece of my heart has gone forever. Of course, she was 96 years old and logically we knew she could not stay with us always. But when I heard the news, I felt that the world shifted on its axis and will never be the same again. The sadness is more intense because – quite simply for almost everyone in Britain, across the Commonwealth, and around the world –  she has always been there. She was already 40 years old and a mother of four when I was born, but she was steadfast and dutiful and consistent and unchanging. She was the heart and soul of the UK, and the solid foundation of our long history.

In a speech given on her 21st birthday in 1947, the then-Princess Elizabeth went on the radio and made this promise to post-war Britain and its Commonwealth nations: “My whole life, whether it be short or long, will be devoted to your service.” And so it was to be, right up to the very end. Two days before her death, she greeted the new British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, and as is the tradition in the UK, asked her to form a government and become prime minister. It was The Queen’s job, her duty, her obligation, and her promise to the British people, and she did it despite the toll it must have taken on her during her last 48 hours on earth. She told us 75 years earlier during that speech that she would always do her duty, and she did it to the end.

Queen Elizabeth II has been consistently true to her words of that 1947 speech, devoting her 70-year reign to her country, her commonwealth nations, and her subjects. Rarely in history has any leader been more completely, unwaveringly and selflessly devoted to her people.

As monarch, The Queen rose above politics and divisiveness. She stood firm on the principal of a non-politically aligned monarchy, and always focused on what was best for her subjects. She constantly promoted goodwill, communication, peace, and making the world a better place. She weathered internal scandals and bad behavior of other members of her royal family, worked with 15 British Prime Ministers, met with 13 of the last 14 US Presidents (somehow LBJ missed out), and guided the monarchy through innumerable changes over her seven decade reign. She was the longest-serving monarch in British history, and at her passing at age 96 she had been patron to over 800 charitable organizations. The Queen is currently being mourned by tens of millions of Brits, hundreds of millions across the Commonwealth, and billions around the world. By some accounts, the Queen was the most popular person in human history. 

I am thankful for the marks of respect given by the other land I love, the USA. President Joe Biden has announced that he will attend her funeral and said “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era”. I have been deeply touched by how many American friends have reached out to me to express their sympathy and support for the loss of the Queen. Many of them really “get” how I feel. I have even been interviewed on TV and on Georgia Public Broadcasting radio.

So how did it all start? Once upon a time, back in 1926 in the land of my birth, a beautiful princess was born. This princess was smart, lively, personable, strong-willed and fun. She and her younger sister were princesses because their grandfather was the King, so their father was The Duke of York, and their slightly older uncle was The Duke of Windsor and in line to be the next King.

When she was just 10 years old, the arc of her life changed in ways she couldn’t completely comprehend as a child. Her uncle had indeed become King in 1936 but decided later that year that he couldn’t do it. He didn’t feel he was cut out to be the King, and he was also in love with and wanted to marry an American divorcee, which would have been completely against the 1,000-year-old rules of the monarchy. He therefore abdicated the throne, which is the British phrase meaning he resigned from being King.

So, our princesses’ beloved but very shy father reluctantly had to take on the role and step in and step up to become King George VI, which changed the line of royal ascension over to include our princess, his oldest child. As a teenager and against her father’s wishes, she joined the armed forces during World War II and worked hard, becoming a much-admired inspiration to her country during those difficult years. Britain and the whole world started paying close attention to her.

In 1947, she married her own prince, a British war hero descended from the Greek and Danish royal family who came to England as a child. He was tall, good-looking, an outdoorsman, a race car driver, a sailor, and a pilot. Prince Philip was a real “man’s man”, and although he was no doubt what today we would call “a handful” during those early years of their marriage, they went on to have four children together, and he became her supportive rock that stood by that young princesses’ side during a 73-year marriage until his death at 99 last year. Seeing our Queen mourn alone in the chapel, due to COVID-19 restrictions which meant she could not sit close to her family, was heartbreaking and brought millions of us to tears. But she did not once consider abdication, she just carried on with her job and her commitments… just as she promised.

Back to her life story. In 1952, while the glamorous young couple were on a royal trip across Africa, the terrible news came: her much loved father, King George VI, tragically died at the young age of just 52. So that young princess became The Queen.

She took this responsibility at the age of 25 and was an early and  magnificent example of how women can be leaders. She was inspirational to several generations of young British girls, me included. She provided a quiet strength, work ethic and dependability, and also had a deep religious faith which sustained her. 

I tearfully say goodbye this week with a quote from the great lady herself, formally known as ‘Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.’  She said back in 2016: “On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine”.  

I really do miss her and I am thankful for her life, her contribution to history, and to her impact on me personally.  God Bless America, Great Britain, the Commonwealth, and RIP Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022. Thank you, Your Majesty.

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at lesley@lesleyfrancispr.com  or via her PR and marketing agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com