Patron’s Curry Lunch – 4th November 2018

This lunch, whose Patrons are Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenants, of Herefordshire, the Dowager Countess of Darnley, and of Worcestershire, Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Holcroft, was to raise funds to support the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Army Cadet Force Charitable Trust.

The Trust was formed in 2005 to raise funds to enable cadets to experience expeditions at home or abroad that are not covered by MOD budgets.

The Army  Cadet Force is a youth organisation sponsored by the MOD and is open to all girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 19 years. The combined Hereford and Worcester force has some 500 girls and boys. They hold parades at 23 different locations around the two counties. It is not a recruitment arm of the Army or TA. For more information click here.

Before lunch, we were shown various displays. A military cadet band gave a most impressive performance of drums with trumpet and xylophones, delivered flawlessly. An excellent lunch was followed by a presentation, first by the chairman of the Trust on their activities and then by a cadet who has spent ten days  on a tall sailing ship in the Channel before ending up passing through Tower Bridge into the Pool of London Dock. Her enthusiasm was palpable and all will benefit from her experience in the future.

The Leominster Civic Service – 29th October 2018

The Mayor of Leominster, Councillor Jenny Bartlett, held her civic service in the Priory in Leominster. This is a church that is worth a special visit at any time. Look here.

A well designed service included beautiful singing by the Honey Brook Singers from Ivington School and a sermon from The Revd Prebendary Michael Keen that made three main points. Firstly, he thanked all civic leaders for their service. Secondly, he called for civilised discourse between people, particularly politicians, who disagree so that they find the compromises that a democracy requires. Thirdly, he called for brave leadership in dealing with what 97% of scientists agree is a looming man made climate change crisis.

Very good cakes after the service too!

A night with the Hereford Street Pastors – 27th October 2019

The night life of Hereford was an eye opener for us both, with the added excitement of Halloween. We arrived for our briefing at 20:30. We were all going to finish at about 3:30 in the morning. However, when we left, just before the rest of the team, we saw a situation that kept us there until after 06:00 and the rest of the team until after 7:00.

We were told that is was an unusual night. I fear that it may have not been that unusual. We saw two teams of people – the Street Pastors on the Street and the Lean on Me team back at the haven – put into practise a mixture of professionalism and humanity, inspired by their Christian Faith. It is a sad reflection on human nature that their services are required. They most certainly were and a number of people would have been in serious trouble without their intervention. Since an essential element of what they do is confidentiality, it would not be right to go into any detail.

These people are saving lives and preventing terrible abuse.

These teams operate under the banner of Vennture. Here is a link to their website. Please support them – with money or consider becoming a volunteer. Young people who can relate to those who find themselves in a pickle are especially welcome.


Meeting with the Defence Medical Welfare Service – 23rd October 2018

The Defence Medical Welfare Service provides support to the Armed Forces Community over the age of 65  whenever they are receiving medical treatment. This makes it different to most military charities which are not focused on hospitals and all the worry and stress that this can entail for the person and their family. It works very closely with other such charities. They have a service location within the Wye Valley NHS Hospital Trust. They have been doing this for 75 years.

The Herefordshire Welfare Officers in Herefordshire are Beth Parham and Ashley Winter. They can be contacted on 0800 999 3697 or referrealls@dmws.org.uk.

For more information, here is their web-site.


Inauguration of the New Model In Technology and Engineering (NMITE) – 19th October 2018

Hereford’s new University is up and running.

At Hereford Cathedral, a great celebration was held to mark its Inauguration. A splendid procession of academics from far and wide with civic leaders made their way from the Town Hall to the Cathedral in a blaze of colour. Hereford folk took it in their stride, no doubt thinking that it was perfectly normal – as it was centuries ago as Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, the instigator of this modern manifestation, told us during the celebration. Hereford and its county are back on the academic map and intend to be leaders in their field.

Here is a link to NMITE’s web-site which will tell you how special and different it will be, bringing an approach not seen in the UK before, though very successful in the US.

At the celebration, the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire invited Dame Fiona Kenrick to lead the new University as chair of Trustees. Dame Fiona addressed the company and then in turn , invited Professor Elena Rodriguez0Falcon to take on the duties and responsibilities of Provost (Chief Academic Officer). The new Provost then gave a moving address about her journey to this moment and her dedication to making a success of the new University. A very public statement of the values and ethics of the new institution was declared.

It cannot be overstated how important this new institution to the future prosperity of Hereford and the County of Herefordshire. It is important on a much wider scale too, as it addresses the shortage of engineers in a technological world, and particularly, engineers that understand the wider context of the role in business and society.

Conference held at HMP Hewell – 16th October 2018

The conference was organised by the Diocese of Worcester Diocesan Criminal Justice Affairs Group. The Venue was the Great Hall at The Grange, Her Majesty’s Prison, Hewell in Worcestershire. I am very grateful to the Worcestershire High Sheriff for organising my invitation.

The subject of the conference was “The dilemma of the sentence of Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP)”. Such sentences were introduced by section 225 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and abolished in 2012. However, the 2012 Act was not retrospective so that there are still some 3,500 prisoners in prison with such a sentence.

The purpose of such sentences is to find a way of dealing with offences that are not subject to a life term but are sufficiently serious to merit consideration of public safety if released once the given sentence has been served. It is the job of the Parole Board to make this judgement.

The dilemma is that Prisoners can find themselves in a limbo, staying in prison long after they have served their original sentence.

The conference heard from the Prison Governor, a video of four prisoners under IPP sentence, a Professor from the school of law at the university of Warwick,  the Parole Board, the Probation Service and the Prison Reform Trust. We then had a choice of workshops, a round up of the conclusions from these workshops. It ended with a masterly reflection on the day by the Archdeacon of Worcester.

It is important to emphasise that the issues present a dilemma without an easy answer. However, the fact that these sentences were abolished in 2012 points to the possibility that these prisoners find themselves in a legal and moral limbo.

Worcestershire Legal Service – 14th October 2018

These legal service used to be held specifically at the beginning of the legal year, or at least one of the legal terms during the year. This group of services has been held at or near the beginning of the Michaelmas legal term. The Worcestershire service is the last in this group that we attended. This County is very much connected with Herefordshire in this context because from 1973 to 2005, the two counties shred a High Sheriff, in parallel (almost) with the combining of the Shire Councils. Since Worcestershire has a much higher population than Herefordshire, it has institutions that Herefordshire does not, such as prisons. It also shares a Police Force along with Shropshire(West Mercia) and a Fire and Rescue service (Hereford and Worcester). We are both part of the West Midland Judicial circuit. Our Magistrates can also find themselves sitting in either County.

In short the two Counties are close in spirit as well as geography. Therefore, their legal service is of particular significance.

The Service was held in Worcester Cathedral, a Gothic wonder in contrast to Hereford’s Romanesque beauty. Compare Worcester and Hereford. In a reflective moment, I remembered that King John is buried there, he who had that difficulty with his Barons that produced the first Magna Carta, many of whose clauses attempted to cut back the power of the Sheriffs. The first version was not a success but it subsequently became an important foundation of the law in many countries.

Again, we had a fine procession, some magnificent music and a commanding sermon from the Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham, bringing an ecumenical flavour to the service.

The Adam Darnley Memorial Lecture – 12th October 2018

This first Adam Darnley Memorial Lecture was given by the Right Honourable Sir Andrew McFarlane, for the benefit of the Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust, for which Adam did so much, .

Sir Andrew McFarlane has just been made head of the family division. However, as a man of many parts, his lecture was about what it means to be the Chancellor of a Church of England Diocese (in his case – Exeter).

He was concerned that the subject might be dry and tedious. He need not have worried. In his hands, it was anything but. Somehow he made it amusing, not least with anecdotes of some of the funny situations that a Diocesan Chancellor is called to adjudicate.

Please consider supporting the Herefordshire Historic Churches Trust which provided funds to help keep in good order and useful the extraordinary legacy of lovely churches that our ancestors have bequeathed us. Here is more information.

Visit to St. Michael’s Hospice – 11th October 2018

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.


West Midlands Shrieval Service – 9th October 2018

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.