Engagements

The Growing Point Autumn Show – 4th October 2018

The High Sheriff was asked by the chair of Herefordshire Growing Point (who happens to be Mrs High Sheriff) to judge the exhibits at the Herefordshire Growing Point Autumn Show and give out the prizes. There were a large number of entries into which a great deal of thought had been given, so choosing which should be 1st, 2nd and 3rd was not easy. The ones that made me laugh may have enjoyed particular favour. The heaviest potato turned out to be a stone so did not win a formal prize but got a special commendation for humour. There were a number of categories. A new one this year was the hottest chilly. I have a suspicion that this may have been aimed at setting the High Sheriff on fire. The winning entry did nothing initially then my hair stood on end, my head blew apart and I can still taste it on my lips as I type.

This is very special charity – a community really proving gardening therapy and recreation for those who need help to get some pleasure out of life. Here is a link to their web-site. You will see how special they are.

Visit to the Herefordshire Light Infantry Museum – 3rd October 2018

Colonel Andy Taylor OBE DL, the curator of the Herefordshire Light infantry Museum at Suvla Barracks in Hereford, gave me a private presentation of the history of the Herefordshire regiments in their various guises since the middle of the 19th Century to the present day. The museum is packed with uniforms, medals, letters, dispatches, war trophies, decommissioned small-arms, photographs and other souvenirs telling the story of volunteers mostly from Herefordshire but from neighbouring counties too, who fought bravely for their country. Many have descendants who live in the county today.

It is a very important part of the County History. In particular, during the First World War, the 1ooth anniversary of the end of which we are celebrating this year, had a profound and traumatic effect on the County.

I hope that the Herefordshire Shrievalty will always support enthusiastically this memorial to bravery, dedication to country and freedom.

The web-site has lots of interesting information. Here is a link

The Mayor of Bromyard’s Charity Dinner – 22nd September 2018

The Mayor of Bromyard, Cllr Roger Page and the Mayoress, Mrs Clare Davies, held a dinner at the Falcon Hotel, Bromyard to raise funds for his chosen charity, the Kempson Players, which looks after the Bromyard recreation ground.

Recreation grounds are a vital recourse to provide legitimate fun activity (and prevent the alternative). They are causes on which High Sheriffs should be especially keen. Here is a link to the Kempson Players.

A very pleasant evening was had and a useful sum was raised.

The Commemoration of Lance Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis – Friday 21st September 2018

Exactly 100 years ago, Lance Corporal Allan Leonard Lewis was killed at Rossnoy, near Lempire in France on 21st September 1918. Three days earlier, he had been exceptionally brave. On the 21st, he again set an outstanding example and paid the ultimate price. For these acts, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was born on 28th February 1895 in Whitney-on-Wye and is the only Herefordshire born man to have received this award to date.

The citation reads as follows.

“On the morning of the 18th September, 1918, this NCO was in charge of a section which he had successfully kept together. He was on the right of the line and the Battalion started to attack Ronsoy where the East and West barrage opened.

The Battalion advanced to a point where the enemy machine gun fire was so intense that it was a practical impossibility to get forward. The barrage went on and the Battalion was temporarily held up.

This man working with his section on the right amongst the ruins, observed two enemy machine guns opposite him enfilading the whole Battalion. He crawled forward single-handed on his own initiative, with bombs, got within bombing range and successfully bombed the teams manning the enemy’s guns. The enemy left their guns and ran out of their emplacement.

Lance-Corporal Lewis thereupon used his rifle with good effect and the whole team surrendered. He had wounded six and captured four unwounded of the enemy. By his courage and determination in putting out of action two enemy machine guns he undoubted enabled the Battalion to advance, and so contributed largely to the success which followed.

Later on 21st September, 1918 during another attack, this NCO displayed splendid power of command. When his company was caught in the enemy barrage he was the first to rush them through it until they came under heavy fire from the enemy machine guns, whereupon Lance-Corporal Lewis immediately began to place them out in shell holes. While doing this he was killed.

Throughout, he showed a splendid disregard of danger and his leadership at a critical period was beyond all praise.”

Here is a link to more information.

One hundred years later, as a result of great efforts by a committee chaired by Lance-Corporal Lewis’s great niece, Dawn, we came together to witness the Dean, Michael Tavinor, dedicate a plaque in the Lady Arbour on the South side of Hereford Cathedral in beautiful sunshine. We then walked to the Old Market where the Lord Lieutenant, Lady Darnley, unveiled a full size statue of Lance Corporal Lewis. This was sculpted by Jemma Pearson who also sculpted the fine statue of Elgar leaning against his bicycle in the Cathedral Close. The heavens opened, thereby giving us a slightly more realistic glimpse of what it must have been like one hundred years ago.

It will be impossible to walk past the statue without pausing for thought. Go to the Lady Arbour and sit in peace and thank God for men such as this.

 

Presentation by YSS – 20th September 2018

A number of workers, volunteers and clients of YSS came together in a room to tell us about their work. YSS stands for “Your Support Service”. Their mission is “Enabling people who are vulnerable, have complex needs and who face difficult life challenges to lead positive and constructive lives in society and to achieve their potential”. They are “a charity that helps people help themselves and we have been doing so for over thirty years”. They have programmes running in the whole West Mercia Police authority area.

Many though by no means all of those whom they help have come into contact with the criminal justice system. Sadly, the trigger for finding help, for many who have some sort of mental problem or  confusion, is trouble with the law. It is good to see that society is moving on from a crude “Guilty or not guilty” approach to recognition that people, especially the young, can be steered away from trouble by giving them the confidence to say no to those who would lead them astray.

YSS have a large number of programmes too numerous to list here. Please go to their web-site and see what they do. please consider volunteering to help with one or more of their programmes. Please consider supporting them financially.

Echo AGM Leominster – 20th September 2018

This was an AGM with a difference. No stuffy high table of directors telling the shareholders how marvellous they have been. This was a show to all the members by a substantial number of the members. Anyone who participates as helpers and the helped can become a member and have a say.

The list of activities that Echo enables is too long to list here. Go to Their web-site and see.

There were many tributes and farewells to Fiona Ritchie who has been Chief Officer for 26 years. 26 years! Mike Cook steps into her shoes. We wish him the best helping to take Echo onwards.

This is an amazing organisation. Please support it.

 

Presentation of the Young Good Citizen Awards at West Mercia Police Headquarters on 19th September 2018

Following the tour earlier in the day, the three High Sheriffs of Shropshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire changed into shrieval finery to award a number of quite remarkable young people who had made a difference by selfless action of some kind. This varied from extraordinary feats of fund raising, through caring for others through to very brave saving of lives. The citations were very moving. It was an honour to meet these outstanding individuals and their proud families.

With such people, the future is bright.

Here is a link to the nomination from for this year’s awards. These have now been awarded but 2019 beckons and nominations will be welcome.

Visit to West Mercia Police Headquarters 19th September 2018

The three High Sheriffs of Shropshire – Rhoddy Swire, Worcestershire – Cassian Roberts, and Herefordshire were given a warm welcome and tour of the West Mercia Police Headquarters. This include the new operations room, which also directs the Hereford and Worcester (not Shropshire) Fire and Rescue Service, the Dog Training, the Firearms School and presentations by police officers.

There is much change afoot which will improve the delivery of policing across the region within very tight financial constraints. The force are meeting this challenge with professionalism. The community should be proud of its police force.

Dying 2 Drive Safety programme day – 18th September 2018

A number of guests joined 97 young people in Year 11 (aged 15 or so) children from Whitecross School to spend a morning learning what can so easily happen if the driver of a car is distracted either by what the driver and/or his passengers are doing.

After an introduction, we were given a demonstration of what happens at a car crash, with two cars smashed into each other (actually cars from separate real crashes) both with driver actors made up to look the part. A running commentary was given as the Fire and Rescue service cut the drivers out – one simulating being dead – the ambulance service treated the one simulating being alive before loading them into an ambulance while the police took notes and, in a real situation, would have controlled the traffic.

This was followed by a series of workshops by the Fire and Rescue, the Police and the Ambulance Service. We saw some no holds barred films. Shocked silence was the reaction.

The session ended with Ange Tyler telling her story. Ange lost her daughter, Emma Louise Young, in a car crash, aged 23. Angie has managed to channel her grief into a determination to try to keep young drivers safe on the road. We first met at the Police Cadet awards, who have adopted the ELY Memorial Trust as their preferred charity for the year, on 22nd July. Ange relives her anguish again and again in front of a large audience in order to steer others away from the same situation.

The programme aims to bring all the Year 11 young people in Herefordshire to a similar course. If it saves some lives, and it will, it is worth the trauma of being confronted by the possible consequences.

No event has made more impact on us than this one.

Visit to the National Memorial Arboretum – 7th September 2018

The High Sheriff of Staffordshire, Mrs Pippa Gee DL, organised a visit to the National Memorial Arboretum for her neighbouring High Sheriffs. Luckily, her concept of “neighbour” included Herefordshire so we went with our chaplain and her husband. We were taken around in buggies and our guide explained the considerable thought that has gone into these memorials. Not only the armed forces with their ships, regiments and squadrons are represented but also many civilian organisations. The memorial to those who were executed for apparent cowardice in the First World War was particularly thought-provoking.

With so many memorials to see and understand, including the moving main memorial that one sees in pictures, it is easy to forget that it is an arboretum too. They have a wide variety of species, chosen as far as possible to go with the theatre of operations of the memorials nearby.

Everyone should go at least  once in their lives. in this hundredth year since the end of the First World War, we have been reminded of the sacrifice that our forebears have made in the cause of freedom and to continue to seek better ways of settling differences. Here is how to visit.