It is a great privilege to be invited to be High Sheriff of Herefordshire for 2017-18, and to take up a post which, after the Monarchy, is the oldest secular office in the country. There have been High Sheriffs, originally directly responsible for law and order (and for collecting taxes!) for more than a thousand years.
I have had connections with Herefordshire for 40 years and I have lived and worked here since the birth of our elder daughter 34 years ago. During that time I worked as a business consultant, latterly concentrating on leadership and management; as a non-executive director in the NHS and as a trustee for various Herefordshire charities.
In 2013 I was ordained into the Church of England and I now work as an assistant priest in the Borderlink benefice, which has eight churches along the south side of the River Wye from Cusop to Preston-on-Wye. I am the third woman priest in England to be a High Sheriff, and the first in Herefordshire.
Being High Sheriff brings a number of responsibilities;
• To lend active support to the principal organs of the constitution in Herefordshire – the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the Police and other law-enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities and all recognised churches and faith groups.
• To ensure the welfare of visiting High Court Judges; a responsibility that goes right back to the early days of High Sheriffs
• To support the Lord Lieutenant on Royal visits and other occasions
• To take an active part in supporting and promoting voluntary organisations within Herefordshire
This is a wide brief – so to make the best use of my time in my year as High Sheriff I have decided to focus particularly on organisations that support people who, for whatever reason, are isolated. I make a distinction, of course, between those who like solitude – a personal choice to be on their own – and those who feel lonely and cut off. This is an ever-increasing issue for people in Herefordshire with our geographical isolation, our ageing population and limited rural public transport.
I am very much looking forward to getting to know Herefordshire even better, and to meeting more of the people of our County who do such great work to help others.