The Trustees and Staff of St. Michael’s Hospice, Bartestree, Hereford, invited a number of people to learn more about what ahs been happening at the Hospice recently. We missed out on a tour when we attended the Royal Visit back in May (too much talking) so it was very good to see around the new residential wing. The old wing is now dedicated to outpatients and the Hospice helps more people in their own homes as staying at the Hospice.
The new wing is inspiring. Nothing to fear here. The old wing has been adapted in the same way.
This is Herefordshire’s hospice. It deserves all the support that people can give. Here is a link for more information.
And so to Birmingham where the legal service was held in Birmingham Cathedral. This is an unusual baroque building consecrated in 1715. Learn more here.
The West Midlands High Sheriff has a rather different job to the neighbours because the population that the office covers is several times that of its nearest neighbour. It is the centre of the judicial system in the West Midlands. As such, the High Sheriff has a lot of judicial entertainment to do.
This was obvious to the visiting High Sheriffs when the procession formed up. The judicial system is kept very busy.
An aspect of the service stood out. At one point, all those concerned with the Administration of Justice were asked to stand by the Precising Judge of the West Midlands circuit (which covers all the counties whose services we attended), The Honourable Mrs Justice Carr, who then invited them to pledge an Act of Dedication as follows:
We pledge ourselves, as those concerned with the administration of justice in this County, to work with all our hearts, and all our minds, and all our strength for the good of its people and the well-being of its society. May God give us the wisdom to discern trust and justice, the courage to uphold them, and the humility to seek no other reward than that his will be done.
From Warwickshire to Staffordshire. The service was held at the Collegiate church of St. Mary’s, Stafford, another beautiful church about which you can learn more here. Another feast of music and words and a new group of people to meet and talk.
The service sheet reminds us that one of the most important roles of the High Sheriff is to look after visiting High Court judges. These visits are becoming rarer outside large conurbations because financial constraints are forcing centralisation on the judicial system. High Sheriffs are meant to be apolitical so have to be careful about criticism but all High Sheriffs to whom we have talked report a similar concern about the dilution of local justice.
Following our own legal service, we attended a number of our neighbours. Firstly, Warwickshire, kindly asked by the High Sheriff, Clare Sawdon JP. Although Warwickshire is not strictly a neighbour of Herefordshire geographically, there are strong historical ties.
The service was held in the Collegiate Church of St. Mary in Warwick. They had the most magnificent display of poppies. Here is a link to learn more about this beautiful church.
The Warwick fanfare announced the arrival of a splendid procession of Civic Leaders, the Deputy Chief Constable. the Member of Parliament, five visiting High Sheriffs, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Magistrates’ bench, The Under Sheriff, six District Judges, four Circuit Judges, one Deputy High Court Judge, the High Sheriff, The Lord Lieutenant, the High Sheriff’s Chaplain and the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, San Jose California. The service was lead by the Rector who also happens to be the High Sheriff’s Chaplain, The Rev. Dr. Vaughan Roberts. The Dean gave a great sermon.
A joint choir from King’s High and Warwick School sang throughout but especially a rousing rendition of Zadok the Priest by Handel. We left the church to the sound of the Concerto for two Violins and Strings in D minor by JS Bach, played by musicians from the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation.
A highlight for any High Sheriff is the legal service to ask God’s blessing on those engaged in the maintenance of law and order in the County – Police, Fire and Rescue, the Magistrates, the District Judges, the High Court Judges, the Court Officers, the Parole Board, the Probation Service, the Prison Service. Also we celebrate all those other arms of the state that make us a civilised nation, which we so often take for granted and, again so often, are doing thankless tasks on our behalf – the NHS, the Ambulance Service, Social Services, Local Councils. Working with them all are many volunteer and commercial organisations. Guarding us all from danger are the Armed Forces, also well represented.
The Herefordshire service is held in Hereford Cathedral as part of evensong, a service that has been taking place daily for 500 years or so. The current High Sheriff is lucky enough to chose the readings, the readers, the preacher, the hymns, the music, guided but not steered by the lovely team at our Cathedral. It is our Cathedral. It belongs to us all in our County regardless of belief or not. It is impossible not to be uplifted.
This year, the preacher was the Sheriff’s Chaplain, The Rev. Ros Trafford-Roberts who spoke on the theme of Social Care, being the High Sheriff’s focus for the year.
The service was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, many civic leader in the County, most of our neighbouring High Sheriffs , many members of the judiciary and representatives of a good number of voluntary organisations.
The Herefordshire Business Awards 2018 were held at the Three Counties Hotel in Belmont, Hereford. The judging panel of Bobbie Heavens, Charlotte Thomas and Frank Myers had a difficult job to decide from some excellent entries who should win.
Information about these awards can be found at www.herefordshirebusinessawards.co.uk.
Herefordshire has a thriving business community which is growing. Much effort is going into developing a sense of community. Good businesses attract more good businesses and this is happening. Hereford itself has an enterprise zone at Rotherwas. This is Skylon and more information can be found here.
A very enjoyable evening was had and some very impressive companies were nominated.
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.
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, 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.
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.”
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.