Visit to the Newton Farm Ward, Hereford – Thursday 2nd August

The High Sheriff and his wife were the guests of Councillor Phil Edwards and his wife Bobbie on a visit to the Newton Farm ward of which Phil is the representative on Herefordshire Council and Hereford Town Council.  We visited the Oval Community Centre, clearly a vital hub service the community. Here is a link to the many things that they do.

It was clear that much has been done over recent years to improve the housing and make Newton Farm a place that people can be proud to call home. Green spaces are guarded jealously and have been developed for everybody to enjoy. There is more that needs to be done as there always will be.

Our hosts looked after us very well and we are grateful for all the trouble that they took.

Hereford Magistrate’s Court – Wednesday 1st August

At the invitation of the chair of one of the benches sitting that day, the High Sheriff observed a number of sessions of the court. All were guilty pleas so the job of the magistrates is to pass sentence or, where their powers are insufficient, to refer the case to the Crown Court. I was struck by the humanity of the process. There is an argument to be made that magistrates do not have enough options at their disposal to deal appropriately with the cases that come before them. That requires more resources than currently available. I was also struck by efficiency of the management of the caseload. The information technology systems are not always as helpful as they might be and the court sometimes proceeds in spite rather than because of them.

The Magistrates’ Court is the starting point of almost all criminal judicial processes and the end point for most, as they deal with the volume of relatively low level problems that Society throws up (though no less important for that for those concerned) . It is a very important job and there is a serious shortage of Magistrates. They need people from all sections of Society. Here is a link to a Government web-site telling you about the magistrates and how to become one.

Champagne Cream Tea -Dadnor Court – Sunday 29th July

The Mayor of Ross-on-Wye, Harry Bramer has chosen as his Mayor’s charity during is year in office PAPYRUS. a small but national charity for the prevention of young suicides. It is a tragedy that there is a need for such a charity but there is. Here is a link for more information.

The Mayor and his consort, Marie Ward, hosted a champagne cream tea at his home to support this charity. Dadnor Court’s own grapes made the champagne and very good it is too. There was much to see and do beside eating and drinking. A good number of people came to support the event. The weather, otherwise blazing hot and dry for weeks, decided to tease us a little with some rain but not for long. A useful sum of money was raised for the charity.

The vineyard features in the “Great British Vineyards” guide. Here is a link.

Opening Service of the Two Hundred and Ninety-First Three Choirs Festival – 28th July

It has been the luck of this year’s High Sheriff to hold office when the Three Choirs Festival, which cycles around Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals, is hosted in Hereford. The opening service launched a magnificent festival with a procession of Lord Lieutenants, High Sheriffs, Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons, Canons and various guests from the Bishop’s Palace and a Civic procession of Mayors and Aldermen and guests from the Town Hall. All were splendidly arrayed in one way or another. There followed a sung evensong. The service celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage to the Westminster Parliament as well as the rather more recent admittance of women to the Church of England priesthood. The Bishop of Llandaff. The Right Reverend June Osborne, gave a hard hitting sermon on the equal treatment of women in society which  celebrated where we have reached compared to the past but deplored how long it has taken and how much further there is to go.

The festival is  a programme of top class music some of which, though not all, has a flavour of the choral tradition of the Church. The 2018 festival runs from 28th July to 4th August and a link to the programme can be found here. For most people reading this, it will be in the past so they should look forward to the 2019 festival in Gloucester. The programme is developing and this can be followed here.



West Mercia Police Cadets (Herefordshire Detachment) Awards ceremony – 26th July

We were honoured to attend this awards ceremony alongside The Right Worshipful the Mayor of Hereford, Cllr Sue Boulter, The Junior Mayor Anna Darwood, and Chief Inspector Steve Owen.

We all presented awards and the High Sheriff had the honour to make the Cadet of the Year award to Charmaine Watkins. The citations were read out by PCSO Ali Thompson and Pc Jo Ellis who lead the team that runs the cadets unit. It is clearly in good hands and the Cadets are at full strength with a waiting list. Policing of the future will be in good hands.

For more information about the Police Cadets, go to this link.

One award was made by Ange Tyler of the ELY Memorial Trust which the Cadets are supporting. I had a long talk with Ange. The story behind the setting up of this Trust is a tragic one which has led to a charity dedicated to trying to help others in similar circumstances. Please look at their web site and if you can, help.

Informal tour of Ross-on-Wye – Sunday 22nd July

During our shrieval year, we hope to visit all the market towns in the county on an informal basis to get to know them better.

We started with Ross-on-Wye in the south of the county and met the Mayor of Ross, Cllr Harry Bramer and his consort, Mrs Marie Ward at Ross’s magnificent market house. Herefordshire is blessed with a wide variety of market houses. Ross’s is unusual in being built with stone pillars. It is substantial, built between 1650 and 1654. It has had many uses including fire station. The right to hold a market in Ross dates back to King Stephen in the 12th century.

The Man of Ross, John Kyrle, lived opposite (Born in Dymock in 1637 and died and is buried in Ross in 1724). He was a man of vision, enterprise and philanthropy. He brought to bear an aesthetic sense to town planning that was unusual in small country towns at that time. The tradition has been sporadically followed by town planners since but present-day planners are more sensitive to the importance of a pleasant environment than was perhaps the case only a few decades ago – thank goodness.

It was a very hot day and there was an almost Mediterranean feel to some of the corners we looked into, such as the remaining parts of the old Bishop’s Palace.

After a substantial lunch, we walked down to the riverside where the Proms in the Park were taking place. Every Sunday from May to August, a guest band takes over the Bandstand. Today, there was a programme of four bands. If it had been cooler, it would have been hard to resist dancing to the Swing band. As it was, we had large ice creams instead.

Visit Ross. It is built on steep banks leading down to the Wye with spectacular views. There are plenty of places to eat and drink. A jewel in Herefordshire’s crown.

For more about John Kyrle, see this link. I see that his Grandfather was an High Sheriff of the County.

For more about Ross-on-Wye, visit this link or this one

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service – Tuesday 12th June

The Chief Fire Officer for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Fire and Rescue Service picked us up from home on the East of the County. The programme had us getting to Peterchurch on the West of the County in 15 minutes. This would have been optimistic even with the excitement of a blue light. However, the public will be pleased to know that blue lights are not used lightly and certainly not in these circumstances. The timing was a clerical error.

We got to Peterchurch where the service has a fire training facility that was demonstrated to us. Our fire personnel are volunteers on call when needed. Those on call have to be at their fire-station within a few minutes. The fire-station network is such that this service is usually the first responders to an incident. Their capabilities are broad. Due to the fire prevention work that they do, fires are less frequent than they used to be. Sadly, traffic accidents are not going in the same direction and the service is coming up against new challenges dealing with accidents as technology changes vehicles.

We then went on to the Hereford Fire-station. After getting a lofty view of Hereford from the top of a fire platform at full extension (high!), a number of us sat down and talked about the service and the wide range of skills that it can bring to bear. Particularly good to hear was the degree of cooperation with other services such as the police and ambulance in ways that were not obvious.

We are fortunate to have them at the service of the public.

Visit to Long Lartin Prison, Evesham – Monday 11th June

At the invitation of Cassian Roberts, High Sheriff of Worcestershire, we accompanied him and Jane, his wife, on a visit to Long Lartin prison.

Long Lartin is a Category A men’s prison. Prisons are categorised A to D and A is for those considered to be the most dangerous. The links are to Wikipedia entries which should be read with care.

For some of us, it was remarkably difficult to get in through the security which created one of the day’s few lighter moments. None should be under any illusion that being incarcerated here is a soft option. Prisoners sent here are likely to have been given sentences of ten years or more. However, the staff are very conscious of the need to treat their prisoners humanely and try to prepare them for a new life when they are freed. Each prisoner has to be considered as an individual, both from the point of view of his needs and also to keep others safe. This requires very difficult judgements. Always to take the safe option would result in lock down that would, over the longer term be less safe.

We were given a very comprehensive tour of the prison, particularly the workshops. The Deputy Governor and her staff were very hospitable.

Long Lartin finds itself trapped in an unenviable position concerning prison inspections. It is marked down for some of its accommodation. It has put in proposals to rectify these serious deficiencies to be told that there is no budget. Not good for morale. Society needs to face up to the need to manage well those it feels that it must lock up. It will be cheaper in the long term.

Anne Frank Memorial Day Service – Saturday 9th June


We were invited to attend a memorial service for Anne Frank which took place at Saxon Hall, Hereford as part of a Jewish religious service for the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Liberal Jewish Communities. Most of the service was conducted by Rabbi Anna Gerrard in the hall but the part dedicated to Anne Frank took place outside around the memorial tree. For a number of us, it was our first experience of a Jewish service but much was familiar. Thirty Boys from Monmouth Boy’s Prep School sang expertly.

The Deputy Mayor of Hereford, Kath Hey and Canon  Anna Nugent from Hereford Cathedral also attended.

It was a gathering of different traditions gathering to celebrate our common humanity.

Hereford Times report

Herefordshire Jewish Community

Saxon Hall

Visit to Offices of Encore Enterprises – Wednesday 6th June

Having attended the Spring concert of the Herefordshire Schools Brass and Concert Bands (see earlier report), I was keen to know more about music in Hereford schools.

So I visited their office on June 6th at Lugwardine Court, outside Hereford and was told more about what they do by Cliff Woollard, Managing Director and Roger Wiebkin , Learning and development Manager. In effect, the Local Education Authority have outsourced what was the Herefordshire Music Service to Encore that was specially set up to take over the job. This struck me as an example of outsourcing at its best with lots of scope for innovative thinking.

It would be hard to over-estimate the importance of music in the upbringing of our young people. Not only can it give great individual satisfaction but it brings people together to work as a team. There is not more demanding need to work as a team than an orchestra!

Here is a link to their web-site again.