It’s been rather a strange start to a new role in these Coronavirus fuelled days, as it’s hard to see the correct path to take to fulfil my duties as High Sheriff. But what is clear as the pandemic situation unfolds is that we have amazing people across our beautiful county, working at the front-end having to face relentless, gruelling tasks, day after day. I am aware too, we have longer term problems developing as the lockdown continues, businesses struggle, jobs are lost and tensions rise. It will undoubtedly have a long term impact on all of our lives and for some more than others.
I realise I am limited in what I can do at present, so right now in the grips of the lockdown, my challenge is to find ways that the office of High Sheriff can help and support people and organisations – without causing any extra work for them.
So I am sending out emails of introduction and letting people know that I’m here and how to contact me, and getting to know people virtually rather than in person.
I have a Facebook page to which I regularly post articles of support to our front line services, charities and other items which may hopefully be of interest.
Stay safe and well
We hosted this annual event on 5th March, attended by a wide range of Herefordshire guests and the board of the HCF. Frank Myers MBE, Chairman, addressed the guests giving an update on the work for the HCF and the position of its finances, which were good.
I then presented High Sheriff awards to representatives from Aspire Living, Echo, YSS and the Avenbury Care Farm. An Award for the Museum of Cider Hereford will be handed over in due course by Philippa Spens, the HSS Chief Executive, as the Director was unable to attend at the last minute. Each award is backed up by a donation from the High Sheriff’s Fund, managed by the HCF.
It was a well-organised event and a pleasure for us to see the house used in a useful way for Herefordshire.
After the cyber seminar I organised in August for business with the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce at Eastnor, Lady McFarlane DL, a Trustee of YSS in Hereford, thought it would be helpful to offer a similar seminar for the voluntary sector. She hired a room at Hereford Football Club and arranged through Will Lindesay DL, Chief Executive hvoss (Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service) to issue invitations widely. The Lord Lieutenant and the Chairman of Herefordshire Council attended.
We had about 40 acceptances. The speakers were James Squire, ROCU Cyber Protection Officer, West Mercia Police, Paul Burgwin, Chief Consultant, ITCONSEC Secure Consultancy, and Teejay Nichols, Fraud Analyst, Nat West. The event was sponsored by ISO Consultants from Malvern, NFU Cyber Insurance and PC Logix IT Services of Hereford’.
It was very informative, and disturbing given the success of the criminals involved in hacking and stealing money.
I attended this service on 9th February in Hereford Cathedral. The Dean took the service and gave the sermon. As always, the service was enhanced by fine singing by the cathedral choir.
The many branches of the WI in Herefordshire were represented and their record of providing educational opportunities for women and cohesion and support across the county was fully recognised and applauded. Val Lewis, the Federation Chairman, invited me to stay on for tea and cake, something for which the WI is also justly celebrated.
This is an important annual event, which this year was postponed due to flooding. It was held in the Hereford Town Hall in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant, the Dowager Countess of Darnley and hosted and organised by Nathan Travis, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive.
The event is a chance to mark the great talent and commitment of members of the Fire & Rescue service in Herefordshire and to honour those who have given long service. Medals are also awarded for specific acts of bravery and dedication. We witnessed thirty and forty years’ service awards and an award for the HWFRS Supporter of the Year and Team Fundraiser. We heard details of dramatic life saving acts in the River Wye, and I presented the High Sheriff’s Community Volunteer of the Year award and had the chance to thank all present, including the families who support the brave and demanding work the service staff undertake.
Although not in Herefordshire, the mosque in Craven Arms is probably the nearest one to our county so Lucy and were delighted to be able to visit it with High Sheriff of Shropshire, Dr Josh Dixey, and his wife, Di, on 1st February.
We were received by the Imam, Sohayb Peerbhai, who has been incumbent since 2011. The mosque is based in Noor (light) House in Newton Street, and the prayer area is in an extension at the back. There is an active congregation of over 30, many of whom are employed in the halal abattoir, Euro Quality Lambs, nearby. The house has separate areas for women to meet and prepare for services
The Imam also showed us the Islamic community centre. It is good that the tradition of providing mosques for UK-based Muslims continues, the first having been opened in Liverpool in 1889, also in a house.
As there are no prisons in Herefordshire, we took the chance to visit Stoke Heath Prison with the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Dr Josh Dixey on 1st February. We were the guests of John Huntington, the Governor.
HMP & YOI Stoke Heath is a Closed Category C Adult male and Young Adult site with a maximum of 766 inmates. We were shown round by a warder and met the chaplains and imam and some of the prisoners. The Governor explained the issues faced by the prison service, but confirmed the impression we had that the regime was intended to prepare inmates as far as possible for a return to normal life the end of their sentences.
After an earlier event in November was postponed due to flooding, the magistrates and their partners came to Eastnor for their annual social evening on 29th January. It was a pleasure to spend time with them – and to enjoy the home-made refreshments they provided.
I was asked to give a short tour of the rooms normally open to the public, which I was very happy to do. As expected, they were an attentive audience and asked some good questions. As it was in the middle of their party, it did not have to be too long.
It is impressive that magistrates are volunteers, albeit well trained, and how much time they devote to the service. We are fortunate to have such an effective system in our country and county.
I am grateful to Julia Steels JP and Libhin Bromley JP for taking up my offer of the venue. I hope they will choose to return at some point.
Hope is a small charity based in Ross which aims to support anyone in Herefordshire aged 5-25 who has had a loved one diagnosed with a serious illness. It reaches beyond Herefordshire with a digital support service for anyone aged 11-25. The Founder and Chair is Sue Trevethan, and Michael Sharp has been the Chief executive for the last ten years.
Hope is well supported by local businesses and won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2015. On his recent visit to Ross, the Prince of Wales met and encouraged some of the Hope team at their stand near the Market House.
This event was held at the Courtyard in Hereford and was very well attended. There were speeches and performances before a black-tie dinner.
Hope is an outstanding charity providing a vital service to young people where there is a gap in other support.
This was postponed from the autumn due to bad weather, but despite the delay, the performance was invigorating and to a very high standard. The Shirehall was the venue.
The orchestra was conducted by Michael Young and tutored by Barbara Kinnaird. It opened with the Hebrides Overture by Mendelssohn and followed with an excellent performance of the horn concerto by Richard Strauss. Jack Bloomer played that tricky instrument with great assurance and sensitivity. The concert finished with a suite from the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, which showed the range and talent of the orchestra to the full.
We are lucky to have an orchestra of this standard in Herefordshire. It can be supported through the Herefordshire Music Fund, with the High Sheriff fund being one of its champions.