Hereford Cathedral Choir in London – 4th December 2018

The Hereford Cathedral Choir, for the ninth year running, held its Advent Service at the Guards Chapel in London. The Service was attended by TRH the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

HRH the Duke of Gloucester laid a wreath at the Special Air Service memorial at the start. What followed included the great Advent hymns – Veni Redemptory Gentium with the glorious melody by Michael Praetorius, Vox Clara Ecce Intonat to the tune Merton, Veni, Veni Emmanuel to the well know tune adapted from a French missal, Jordanis Oras Praevia to the tune Winchester New and Lo, He comes with clouds descending to the tune Helmsley.

We heard readings about the coming of Christ and the choir sang a number of advent carols that looked to the coming of the Messiah.

A very moving event.

The service is in support of the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust which has to raise over £400,000 annually to support the cathedral choir, the education outreach work, the continuing fabric restoration programme and the cathedral’s mission and ministry. there is much going on.

Advent Procession with Lessons and Carols, Hereford Cathedral and unveiling ceremony of Portrait of Bishop Richard – 2nd December 2018

The Cathedral was packed for its Advent service. After what amounted to a short organ concert, a splendid procession wound its way through the Cathedral, pausing at the West door to sing the First Responsory of Advent Sunday in the office of Matins with music adapted by the late David Willcocks from a setting by Palestrina. They then proceeded to their places singing Veni, Redemptor Gentium written by St. Ambrose in the 4th century to music adapted by Michael Praetorius at the turn of the seventeenth century. Since this tune is simple and beautiful, one longed to join in (though this may not have been an improvement). We heard lessons telling of the coming of Christ and the great Advent hymns. A collection was taken for Christian Aid. Before the last hymn, we heard Palestrina’s setting of the Responsory at Vespers on Christmas Eve so we spanned the whole season of Advent.

It has become traditional for the Lord Lieutenant to organise a portrait of the current Bishop to join the pantheon of predecessors that hang in the Great Hall and conference room at the Bishop’s Palace. It was felt that it would be right for the Hereford College of Arts to be invited to help find an artist photographer. Interviews were held and Tim Bartlett got the commission. The result is a portrait which shows the +Richard standing before an archway which looks out onto the wide world, with a look of serious purpose but a twinkle in the eye that captures the essence of +Richard. After the service, there was a presentation with the Lord Lieutenant explaining the story of the creation of the portrait with a tribute to its subject. +Richard then responded with characteristic modesty and humour and received the portrait.

Hereford Combined Schools’ Carol Service – 29th November 2018

Led by the Herefordshire Cathedral School and its Director of Music, David Evans, the following choirs came together to sing both separately and as a magnificent combined choir.

Clyro Church in Wales Primary School,

Bishop Hooper Church of England  Primary School

Pembridge Church of England Primary School

St. Pauls Church of England Primary School

Bishops Castle Primary Primary School

Mordiford Church of England Primary School

Cradley Church of England Primary School

Marlbrook Primary School

Wellington Primary School

Cross Ash Primary School

Hereford Cathedral Junior School

Hereford Cathedral School

Herefordshire Junior Your choir

Saturday Singers


Each sang on their own most beautifully. During the singing of the Trinidadian carol “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy”, a single poppy petal, left over from the Remembrance service on the 11th, fell gently down upon the choir. Not scripted and not noticed by most, but it linked in my mind two events and brought a tear to the eye.

The finale was the combined choirs singing the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The Dean, in his blessing said that Handel himself would have approved of the energy and enthusiasm on display. Nobody seemed to have the music in front of them but all seemed to know when to sing in their section and when not to. As we left, we wiped more joyful tears from our eyes.

Much was done by many to prepare for what was a event with may complicated manoeuvres between very well rehearsed performances. They deserve much thanks.

And there to provide an inspirational setting is our Cathedral. Please support it so that it can continue to be the centre of the community for the next one thousand years.




Visit to Skylon Park, The Hereford Enterprise Zone at Rotherwas – 28th November 2018

Andrew Manning Cox, Chairman of the Hereford Enterprise Zone Board, and thus a co-opted member of the Marches Local Enterprise Board (LEP) (as well as many other non-executive directorships), with Mark Pearce, Managing Director of Skylon Park,  kindly gave up considerable time to update on progress on the Enterprise Zone (EZ).

The EZ is filling up and now has a feeling of vibrancy that comes with lots of activity with many companies operating there. Here is a link to its web-site. Companies looking for a great place to be, look no further.

This EZ and the other developments particularly in the other Herefordshire market towns are vital drivers of economic growth. There are some who argue against such growth but one suspects that they are already comfortably off. Herefordshire average income is way below the national average even though unemployment is low. This is because so many of the jobs are low skill, low wage. We need to attract people into the County, not lose them as is the case at present. We  need to train those already here for these higher skilled jobs. We need the new NMITE university. We need to provide attractive space that companies that will provide employment, the infrastructure to service them and to make the County an attractive place to live and move around. We need more housing to grow the population of the County to provide the tax that the County needs to look after those who need help from Society. Otherwise, the County will not be able to remain an independent authority and for those who love this County that would be bad news indeed.

The Shrieval focus this year is on Social Care. It struggles for lack of money. To find more money, we need more tax revenue from new companies and individuals. Skylon makes this possible.

Herefordshire MIND Mind@40 Expo – 20th to 27th November

Herefordshire MIND had a series of events at St. Peter’s Hereford in the week from 20th to 27th November,  including their AGM on 23rd. On 27th, they ended with a lecture on the History of Mental Health in Herefordshire (including Monmouthshire, Radnorshire and Breconshire at one time).

Change in our area mirrored changes in thinking elsewhere. Before the end of the eighteenth century, care was given locally. Parishes as well as the families of those concerned, took on the care of those with some mental problems. In the nineteenth century, care became more institutionalised on a larger scale as developments in medical thought brought a more scientific approach to diagnosis and treatment. Firstly the institution in Abergavenny covering four counties and then St. Mary’s Burghill, mirroring changes in the law and arrangements between authorities. For more information on these institutions, click here. Thinking changed and it was thought better if people were not kept in large institutions and St. Mary’s closed in 1994. Although for most, this was a good move, for some it was not something with which they could cope. This led to the foundation of Herefordshire Mind forty years ago which carries on its good work today. Here is a link to their web-site.


Leominster Town Lights Carol Service and Switch on – 24th November 2018

The Town of Leominster  held their Town Lights Carol Service in the Priory before a procession to Corn Square for the turn-on of the Christmas lights.

Luston Primary School sang “Knock, knock, who’s there?”

Leominster Primary School sang “I want to see your baby boy”

Ivington Primary School sang “Gabriel’s message”

Stoke Prior Primary School sang “Sleep quietly my Jesus”

Kimbolton Primary School sang “Follow that star”

Earl Mortimer College sang “Grown up Christmas list”

The congregation too sang four well know carols and made a good job of it. There were readings and poems and prayers.

Finally we all said in a loud voice “May the lights of Leominster and the light that is in each one of us shine out to brighten our town and each other this Christmas.” That goes for all of in Herefordshire and everywhere.

A procession took us to Corn Square where there was a stage with singers and dancers (braving the cold) before the big count down to the switch on. Leominster became a blaze of light.



The Shrieval Lecture – November 23rd 2018

120 or so gathered in Court #1 at the Shire Hall, Hereford to hear The Right Hon. Sir David Latham, a retired High Court judge and past Chairman of the Parole Board, deliver a lecture on “Have we become a risk-averse society?”. Here is a link to his Wikipedia entry.

The short answer was probably “Yes”. However, his lecture and the questions afterwards covered a broad range of situations. As former Chairman of the Parole Board, this was his starting point. The recent publicity surrounding the Worboys case gave the lecture a strong topicality. It raised a number of difficult questions about parole and parole hearings in particular. It highlighted society’s intolerance of wrong decisions, preferring no decisions at all so that they can never be wrong even if most of the decisions are right.

Sir David gave some statistics on the reoffending rate of prisoners released on parole. These statistics can be found on page 29 of the Parole Board annual accounts for 2016/17 here. The whole report is an interesting read for anyone wanting to understand better our prison system and the role of the Parole Board in it. The number of releases in 2013 was 3,048 and the number of Serious Further Offences (note “serious” so the others may not have been angels) was 12; in 2014, 3,248/23; in 2015, 3,596/29; in 2016, 3,800/22. Is this an acceptable rate? It seems low though someone in the audience said that this would not be an acceptable risk rate in the building industry! Should we have kept 3,800 people locked up to prevent 22 serious crimes? Would Society be prepared to pay for that approach?

No easy answers as is so often the case with human behaviour.

A very interesting lecture for which we thank Sir David. Funds were raised for the Hereford Cathedral Perpetual Trust and the High Sheriff’s fund at the Herefordshire Community Foundation (which will go to Social Care charities).

Herefordshire Rural Hub – 21st November 2018

This was a day in two parts.

In the afternoon, at the Three Counties Hotel in Hereford, the Herefordshire Rural Hub had an event, The Herefordshire Rural Business Advice Day. This brought together a diverse group of commercial and voluntary organisations that work with the agricultural sector. A number of farmers come to meet their advisors and tackle the bureaucracy that is agriculture these days.

In the morning, a number of organisations made short presentations on what they do.

Herefordshire Rural Hub’s role is simply “Helping Rural Businesses Thrive”. Here is a link to their web-site. https://herefordshireruralhub.co.uk/

They work closely with the Borderlands Chaplaincy who web-site can be found here. Their role is “Working with people of all faiths and none”  They are ready to help anybody in need of a confidential, listening ear offering pastoral support to farmers, farming families and agricultural communities.


A service of Remembrance & Hope for those affected by Road Traffic Accidents – 18th November 2018

All too often, we read of a dreadful car accident in Herefordshire and elsewhere, with many killed or injured and many other left dealing with the consequences – grief, caring for the long term injuries, both physical and mental. Previous engagements have included events dedicated to trying to prevent these accidents. A previous High Sheriff focused on the issue. Too many people in our community are living with the aftermath.

As its title suggests, this service has two aims. To Remember those who have died in such tragic circumstances. To bring Hope to those living with the consequences and help them come to terms with the awful twist of fate that has befallen them.

God’s world is a multifaceted creation. It is capable of creating tragedy, from a human point of view, as circumstances come together to set the scene for disaster, sometimes but not always the result of human folly. It is also a creation of quite stunning beauty and we are uplifted, strengthened and inspired. The Cathedral offers a window into this aspect of God’s creation and offers the hope that  those who have gone before us are ultimately sharing in it.

Hopefully, those attended left with a lighter step than when they arrived. We did.

Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service – Herefordshire Medals and Awards Ceremony – 16th November 2018

Many members of the Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service gathered, with their families, at the Town Hall, in Hereford for their annual medals and awards ceremony.

The Fire Brigade’s Long Service and Good Conduct Medal is awarded by Her Majesty the Queen to honour those who have given twenty years meritorious service. Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant, the Dowager Countess of Darnley, on behalf of Her Majesty, presented awards to five recipients.

Councillor Roger Phillips, who is Chairman of the Fire Authority, gave awards to two recipients who had serves a magnificent thirty years.

The High Sheriff of Herefordshire presented an award and certificate to the Community Volunteer of the Year. Those in this role, amongst other activities, have played an important part in the reduction, over the past decade or so, in the number of fires and resulting injuries and fatalities.

The Chief Fire Officer, Nathan Travis, presented a number of awards, including two very impressive Silver Axes to the Top Wholetime Recruit of the year, Top Retained Duty System recruit of the year, and Certificates of Congratulations to 13 members of the force who had performed their duty exceptionally well.

Finally, not content with rendering great service to the community themselves, the Firefighters raise money for the Fire Fighters Charity. Councillor Phillips gave an award to the Fire Station that had made an outstanding contribution. This year it was Hereford Fire Station.

The Community owes these men and women a great debt of gratitude.