The County was honoured by the presence of HRH The Countess of Wessex and was greeted by the Lord Lieutenant, the Dowager Countess of Darnley, who then presented HRH to a number of county dignitaries and their partners.
Air Vice Marshall Mike Smart escorted HRH to the “Weeping Window” display of ceramic poppies that had been set up as a cascade from a high window on a tower to the East of the North door of Hereford Cathedral. The poppies were the same as were on display at the Tower Of London in 2017 to commemorate the fallen of the First World War and made a powerful impression on the viewer.
HRH was then introduced to a group of former munition workers at the munitions factory in Rotherwas that was still in production until well after the second world war finished. I was told some hair raising stories told with remarkable understatement. https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200164/herefordshire_archive_and_records_centre/273/rotherwas_munitions_project/2
HRH was also shown the new SAS Memorial Window, ‘Ascension’, a beautiful new addition to our Cathedral. http://www.sasmemorial.co.uk/ HRH was presented with a (delicious looking) hamper of Herefordshire produce by Mrs Dorothy Knight, a former munitions worker now aged 96. I had talked to her beforehand and was struck by the way she talked about her experiences.
HRH was escorted across the road to the Hereford Museum to see the “Herefordshire in the Great War” exhibition as well as artwork by Herefordshire artist, Brian Hatton, a man of remarkable talent from Hereford, born in 1887 and, tragically killed in 1916. In his short 39 years of life, he produced over 1,000 art works. One can’t help but reflect on what might have been. HRH also met a group of children who had won prizes for their artwork remembering the First World War and met the sponsors of the prizes, former High Sheriff, Bob Tabor and his wife Bea. HRH was also given a briefing on the work of Caplor Horizons in Commonwealth Countries. https://www.caplorhorizons.org/
HRH was then taken to the Hereford Cider Museum, formerly a Bulmer site but dedicated to all cider making in the county where we all enjoyed tours of the Museum. We also all enjoyed a good lunch. Finally, HRH was given a briefing of the work and continuity of the Brightspace Foundation. https://www.brightspacefoundation.org.uk/.
HRH then made her departure.
The High Sheriff was asked to be dressed in full 18th century Court Dress for this great fun occasion. Bromyard have devised a Heritage trail from the Heritage Centre via St. Peter’s Church, the Alms houses and the Falcon Hotel (that was part of the carrier/coach and mail system when the horse was the only alterative to ones feet), past the most beautiful black and white houses and important refreshment opportunities to end at the Petty Bridge Toll House. www.VisitBromyard.org.uk.
Bromyard was in festive mode. Before the High Sheriff cut the ribbon on the Trail, everyone was entertained by the Belle d’Vain Morris dancers “ranting” the Trail. I recognised the Scottish dance tune that was being played but misremembered its name in the speech. Luckily few spotted it. We met a Highwayman (a number of times) but I was better armed than he.
I was escorted by Cadet Stephen Gow, who ushered Laura and me to where we should be at any time and was clearly anxious when we dawdled. He did a brilliant job and his boots shone like mirrors. A credit to the Cadet Force.
Thanks are owed to Jan Scrine, the Mayoress of Bromyard and Winslow, who made the Heritage trail happen, to Fred Clarke, the Mayor, and the Heritage lottery fund who helped pay for the Trail information boards.
Laura and I attended the declaration ceremony of David Price as High Sheriff of Powys at the Strand Hall in Builth Wells. Each Bailiwick does these ceremonies a little differently but all require the incoming High Sheriff to swear an oath written in English that is not entirely clear. Before I was swore my own oath at the Herefordshire ceremony on 13th April, Laura and I had attended the Declarations of Rhoddy Swire as High Sheriff for Shropshire, Cassian Roberts for Worcestershire and Charles Martell for Gloucestershire (so al our neighbours except Gwent).
The outgoing High Sheriff of Powys, Susan Thompson, reflected on her year in office. His Honour, Judge Richard Twomlow addressed us on our ancient office and the new High Sheriff responded and talked about his hopes for the year.
At the end, a member of the audience stood up, microphone in hand and burst into song. Then another. Then another and finally the new High Sheriff himself. These were the Young Farmers with whom David is much involved. The High Sheriff of Shropshire, Rhoddy Swire was also there with Georgina, his wife and we reflected whether this should be a tradition that we should introduce to our Counties. The jury is out.
We were treated to an excellent lunch afterwards.
The High Sheriff attended a function aimed at raising awareness in the local business community of this wonderful charity which is “dedicated to providing chances for people of all ages and abilities to make all sorts of music together, because it is one of the most powerful ways to improve people’s lives and well-being, and the life of their communities” – to quote their web-site. http://www.musicpool.org.uk/
We were addressed by Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire and a Patron of the charity, followed by James Miller, Chairman of the Charity who both told us more about the charity.
We were then addressed by Karen Usher DL, who is a key member of the team that is bringing a new university to Hereford and Herefordshire. It is in the High Sheriff’s remit to promote the County and I view the success of this project as crucial to the healthy future of Herefordshire. It will bring opportunities and jobs to the area and arrest the net exodus of young people from the County. http://nmite.org.uk/.
It was encouraging to be told that it is never too late to take up an instrument and there were people there of similar age to the High Sheriff to prove it! Music makes creative people and team workers, all of which we badly need. Anyone reading this, please support them.
Laura and I attended the celebration of the 1st Anniversary of the cooperation agreement between Hope Support Services and St. Michael’s Hospice.
Hope Support Services, http://www.hopesupport.org.uk/, is a charity that started in Herefordshire but aims to develop nationally. It offers support serves to young people who have a loved one who is seriously ill or worse. The service is given by other young people, most of whom have been through a similar experience. They have a physical presence in Herefordshire and Gloucester and on-line coverage in 13 other areas all over the UK. As their name suggests, they bring hope where there is otherwise bewilderment and despair.
St. Michael Hospice is in Bartestree, just outside Hereford. http://www.st-michaels-hospice.org.uk/. They offer both day care in the home and hospital care for those with terminal illnesses. It is very close to my heart having looked after my Mother so well.
It is easy to imagine the difficulties faced by young people who may either be faced with close relations with terminal illnesses or, indeed, be faced with it themselves. Therefore, it is perfect for the two charities to be working together.
Service of Dedication to Commemorate the Fallen of the Falklands War of 1982, Ross-on-Wye on 14th April
The High Sheriff attended the service of dedication to commemorate the Fallen of the Falklands War in 1982.
Three soldiers are remembered.
Private Timothy Jones, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment
Guardsman Gareth Griffiths, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
Guardsman Colin Parsons, 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
The service took place in the Market Place where those assembled were welcomed by Air Commodore Vivian Warrington OBE, President of the Ross-on-Wye and District Royal British Legion. The service was lead by the Revd. Sarah Jones, Rector of Ross-on-Wye. A moving tribute was given by Trevor Bradshaw, a comrade of Private Jenkins. The Exhortation and Kohima was made by Graham Aplin, Chairman of the Ross-on-Wye and District Royal British Legion. Gordon Mather MM, Chairman of the South Atlantic Medal Association read a prayer. Finally, Major Patrick Darling DL, on behalf of The Dowager Countess of Darnley, Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, thanked all who attended, those who contributed to the memorial and those who worked so hard to make the day a success.
The High Sheriff was accompanied by his Brother, Michael Hone, who has served in the Falkland Islands with the Coldstream Guards just after the war had ended.
The day was a moving start to the year in office.
On 13th April in the High Court in Hereford, Thomas Nathaniel Hone made his declaration to take over the role of High Sheriff of Herefordshire from the Reverend Lady Lisvane in front of the Right Honourable Sir Andrew McFarlane and many distinguished witnesses.
Saturday, 10th June 2017
To Llanwarne for the County Rally of the Royal British Legion for Herefordshire. We gathered at the War Memorial for the Commemoration, Last Post and Silence, and Reveille. The Northfield Caledonia Pipes and Drums then marched off, as we all made our way to Christ Church, Llanwarne, for the Service conducted by The Revd Mark Johnson, Rector of the Wormelow Hundred group of churches.
After the singing of O Valiant Hearts the Vice-Lord Lieutenant, Christopher James, laid a wreath at the altar on behalf of the Lord-Lieutenant, and I laid a wreath as High Sheriff. Eternal Father, strong to save, I vow to thee, my country, and Now thank we all our God were sung with gusto, and the Service ended with the National Anthem.
We then moved to the road outside, where the Vice-Lord-Lieutenant took the salute at the march past, and Brian Wilcox, the Chairman of Herefordshire Council, and I accompanied him on the dais. We repaired to the Village Hall, and enjoyed a superb tea. The afternoon ended with stall and a raffle in the churchyard of the old Llanwarne Church, just before the rain started…
Congratulations to the Royal British Legion and the county President, Major Alan Harrhy, on organising a a splendid and memorable occasion
Thursday 8th June 2017
General Election Polling Day, for which as High Sheriff I was Returning Officer for both our County constituencies. Robert and I arrived at the Hereford Leisure Centre just after the close of the polls at 10.00 p.m. I had had a very thorough briefing from Colette Maund, Herefordshire Council’s Head of Electoral Services, and Erica Hermon, the Deputy Head of Law and Governance, but I was nevertheless unprepared for the sight of the main sports hall set up with trestle tables, with overhead signs numbering each counting area and the sheer numbers of people waiting to start the counts for our two County constituencies: North Herefordshire, and Hereford and South Herefordshire.
I met Alistair Neill, the Chief Executive of the Council, who was in overall charge, and he explained the layout of the room and the roles of each area. As the ballot boxes arrived from the polling stations one of the count officials announced over the public address system the table it would go to. The first step was to count and record the number of ballot papers in each box and ensure that the numbers matched the totals recorded at each polling station; then postal votes were mixed with votes cast earlier that day; and then the count proper could begin. Colette had predicted results between 3.00 and 4.00 a.m., and the scene of concentration and activity was most impressive.
Every now and then Robert and I took a break from watching the counting and caught up with national events on the television in the foyer of the Leisure Centre. To say that the results starting to come in from around the country confounded expectations would be an understatement.
One particularly interesting aspect of the count was the reviewing of doubtful ballot papers – doubtful because the intention of the voter might not have been clear, or where more had been written on the ballot paper than the simple X against one candidate. Representatives of the candidates were able to see the papers and to challenge the judgement of a senior official if they disagreed; but all the issues I saw were quickly resolved.
As Colette had predicted, the constituencies were ready to declare at about 3.20 a.m.: Hereford and South Herefordshire first, and then, after a short delay for a partial recount, North Herefordshire. I was given the paper with all the numbers and then on the dais, with the candidates standing first in one constituency and then the other declared the results. My congratulations go to Jesse Norman and to Bill Wiggin, and my best wishes to them for the service they will give to the people of our County in the new Parliament. My last duty was to endorse the Writs for each constituency – the legal proof that they are MPs.
The Council had hired the Sports Hall for 24 hours, and less than 20 minutes after the declaration of the second result the hall had been almost completely cleared of all the tables, chairs, signs, computers, printers and boxes – very impressive.
I was most grateful to Alistair Neill for his company during the evening, and for the support he and his staff gave me as Returning Officer. Special thanks too to Colette Maund, the Head of Electoral Services. The whole team, both permanent staff and those brought in for the count, performed superbly; it was a very efficient and impressive operation which reflected great credit on everyone involved.
I think I have now just about caught up on my sleep!
Monday, 5th June 2017
To the Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum at Suvla Barracks, Harold Street. A fascinating briefing by Colonel Andy Taylor, the County Colonel of The Rifles and the Curator of the Museum. Andy traced the history of the Regiment from the Herefordshire and Radnorshire Rifle Volunteers, formed in 1861, via its existence as the Volunteer Battalion of The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, to becoming the 1st Battalion, The Herefordshire Regiment, in 1909.
At the start of the First World War the Regiment was expanded to three Battalions, and the 1st Battalion landed at Suvla Bay in August 1915 in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign, fighting with great fortitude but suffering appalling casualties. As my New Zealand grandfather was fighting with the ANZACs only a mile or two away from the Herefordshire Regiment at the time, it was gripping to hear Andy’s description of the Regiment’s experiences. Had the senior commanders been more flexible and imaginative, the outcome might have been very different.
A feature of the Museum is the collection of medal groups, and the military and family stories that they tell. Andy has been untiring in bringing together all aspects of the Regiment’s history (including the pennant from Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz’s official car – kept by the Regiment “in safe custody” after being acquired at the surrender of German forces in Denmark).
My warm thanks to Colonel Andy Taylor for a fascinating morning. Do have a look at the website: herefordshirelightinfantrymuseum.com for information about the Museum and how to visit it. I can thoroughly recommend it.