The Royal British Legion helps the whole Armed Forces community through welfare, companionship and representation as well as being the Nation’s custodian of Remembrance. I was invited to attend the Herefordshire Branch AGM in the Hereford council offices. Other local branches were represented.
The year’s activities were reviewed, and financial matters were covered. A representative from London reported that the annual Poppy Appeal was till raising significant funds for the RBL’s work.
The RBL remains active in Herefordshire and remains active helping former service personal in a variety of ways.
We were invited by the President, Lady Darnley CStJ, to attend this service in St Martin’s Church, Hereford. It was led by the Chaplain-Designate, Bishop David Thomson, assisted by the Chaplain, the Revd Martin Loveless and the Ven Ron Hesketh, National Chaplain & Almoner, the St John Fellowship. The organist was John Eden.
It was a very good service, with outstanding singing by the Ethelbert Consort, a Herefordshire choir.
The Chaplain-Designate will certainly do a good job for St John Ambulance if the precedent of the carol service is followed.
Afterwards, we went to the church hall for the presentation of awards and for seasonal refreshments. It was obvious from the awards how much the volunteers do to make St John Ambulance such a valuable service in our county.
One of the official duties reserved for the High Sheriff is to declare the election results as Returning Officer for the county, if he or she wishes to do the job. I did, so attended at the invitation of the Herefordshire Council Chief Executive, Alistair Neill at the counting station in the Hereford Leisure Centre.
The count was organised by Rosalie Schultz, Head of Corporate Services, and seemed to run smoothly, so that the results were ready before 5am. I shared the role with the Chief executive, and he declared first the result for South Herefordshire (Jesse Norman MP). I followed with North Herefordshire (Bill Wiggin MP), following a carefully-written script as whatever I declared, whether accurate or not, would be the result that applied.
Sadly, the declaration was not covered by national TV as I was told the results were 99% certain not to change-and they did not.
I was invited to attend Court by His Honour Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC when he was hearing a sexual assault case. I sat in on the second morning of the trial, which was held in the Number 1 Court in the Hereford Shirehall, a Grade II* Listed building by Robert Smirke.
Daniel briefed me on the case and how it would be conducted, with a young witness/victim speaking via a CCTV link. When the hearing stopped for lunch, I had the chance also to meet the prosecuting and defending barristers.
It was very good to see English justice at work first-hand and to understand the issues involved, something High Sheriffs were more involved with in earlier times.
This service, organised by the Hereford Cathedral School, gives pupils from schools all over the county the chance to perform in the Cathedral and Lucy and I were the gusts of Paul Smith BSc, Headmaster.
Schools included Cross Ash Primary School, who sang “Once in Royal David’s City” in Welsh, St Paul’s Church of England Primary School, Bishop Hooper and Pembridge Primary Schools, Gorsley Goffs Primary School, Bishops Castle Primary School and, of course, the Hereford Cathedral School.
The singing was excellent, and the pupils obviously appreciated the chance to perform in the splendid space of the Cathedral.
They had no difficulty filling it with sound and will no doubt remember the service as clearly as we will. It was clearly an example of very successful organisation by the Cathedral School.
The Hereford Street Pastors patrol the centre of Hereford on Saturday nights and any other party nights to help young people as required, but usually as they are returning home after enjoying themselves in one of the city’s bars or night clubs. They provide a very useful service which fills a gap where no criminal offence is being committed, but some intervention by responsible people is needed.
Lucy & I met the team after our visit was arranged by Steve Sully, Night Time Economy Leader. We saw the premises used where those unable to get home are taken for shelter and recovery, the Lean on Me supervised recovery facility, and were fully briefed before setting off with the two patrols. We covered every bar and club, and it was clear that the Street Pastors are well known and respected amongst the staff so that they are alerted if there is anyone likely to be in difficulty.
Our night was relatively quiet, but we spoke to several party goers and distributed quite a few pairs of flipflops to girls whose high heels were proving a challenge on the homeward journey. Earlier in the month, a drunken partygoer had collapsed in an alleyway and been rescued before hypothermia had set in, a more dramatic incident, but not uncommon.
The Street Pastors are a valuable voluntary organisation and thoroughly deserve their Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Hereford is safer place as a result of their hard work. https://streetpastors.org/locations/hereford/ and http://www.vennture.org.uk/
This was a very well-attended service to mark the retirement of Bishop Richard and his wife, Kay.
Worship was led by the Dean, the Very Revd Michael Tavinor, and the Cathedral Choir sang at their best, with some help by a music group from Church Stretton Parish church as the diocese, of course, includes Shropshire.
Bishop Richard gave a valedictory sermon, and there was a presentation on behalf of the diocese by the Bishop of Ludlow. The service ended with an anthem by John Rutter and organ voluntaries by Dan Locklair and Louis Vierne.
It was a fine occasion to mark the end of Bishop Richard’s episcopal oversight of the diocese.
As the HCF looks after the High Sheriff’s Fund, from which donations to local charities are made, I was invited to attend the AGM, held in the Fred Bulmer Centre, Hereford. It was chaired by Frank Myers MBE.
The HCF made 197 grant donations in the year ending 31st March 2019, a total of £380,226, an increase in grants of 74 over the previous year. The highest proportion went towards improving life skills, education, employability and enterprise. The HCF enables donors to set up local giving funds and support causes of their choice at less cost and with less bureaucracy than if they were doing it individually.
Four grants have been made this year from The High Sheriff’s Fund, which have been much appreciated by the recipient charities. I am looking forward to hosting the HCF High Sheriff Awards evening at Eastnor in March.
James with Cayden
I visited YSS https://www.yss.org.uk/our-work-in-herefordshire at HVOSS (No Wrong Door) in their new premises at 1 Union Walk, Hereford. We followed a visit by the charity’s Patron, The Princess Royal, who had been there on 8th November.
The Chairman, David Chantler OBE, introduced Lucy and me to the wide range of services provided and to other senior members of the resident team, including Catherine Kevis, the Chief Executive. We also met two of the young people who are currently being helped by YSS.
YSS enables people who face significant life challenges to feel safe, have the chance to thrive and to realise their potential. They provide a wide variety of mainly community-focused support for people and are often described as the ‘glue’ between those at risk of social isolation and the wider mainstream society. Their programmes include National Careers Service guidance, Wellbeing, a Peer Leadership programme, Herefordshire LGBTQ+ youth group and Creative Thinking, but there is a total of 33 partners working with YSS, so the variety is huge.
As Herefordshire is thinly populated in the rural areas and access to services is often difficult, YSS needs greater resources to be able to respond effectively to all the cases referred to them by the Police, social services, schools etc. They will be looking to encourage more local businesses to support their work.
They clearly do excellent work, and we are very fortunate to have them in our county.
RoadPeace is a national charity that recognises the importance of remembering family and friends who have died in road traffic accidents. Services of commemoration are held every year on the third Sunday of November, so I attended the Herefordshire service held in Hereford Cathedral.
The service was conducted by the Dean and attended by Bob Tabor DL, representing the Lord Lieutenant, and the Mayor of Hereford. The sermon was preached by the Revd Canon John Simpson. Many of the congregation brought oak leaf cards, which were inscribed with the name of someone who had died or been injured, and which were placed at the foot of the Paschal candle during the service.
It was a moving occasion, offering comfort to many who had been bereaved.