High Sheriffs Awards
Six stimulating, challenging and inspiring months, involving over 120 separate visits and events, summarised in 500 words – a challenge in itself!
My Declaration Ceremony and service, across the field at St Cynhafal’s Church in Llangynhafal, was filled with friends from near and far. The ceremony served to underline the history and continuity of the role of the High Sheriff and set out my objectives and strategy for the year.
In this of all years, the more formal part of the job has been a delight. The Diamond Jubilee offered opportunities to meet a huge cross-section of people and I was invited to help light our beacon on Moel Famau in the Clwyd Hills. A Royal visit by HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall to celebrate the grant of city status to St Asaph delighted everyone. Soon after, the Olympic Torch travelled across the county for three days – the response from the public was overwhelming, illustrated by seeing people four deep along the road into the centre of Wrexham at 6.45 in the morning! We have also entertained Sir Roderic Wood on his last circuit in Wales as Family Liaison Judge and Sir John Griffith Williams, Senior Presiding Judge in Wales – both erudite and amusing company.
It is the wider aspects of the role, though, that have had the most impact on my diary and time. The parlous state of the economy and the effect it has on communities across the county cannot be ignored: jobs lost; families in crisis; hardship across the board. In turn I’ve also seen the outstanding technology, innovation, performance and calibre of companies across North Wales.
After taking office, I arranged meetings with the chief executives of each of the four county councils to talk about job creation. Each, without exception, welcomed the High Sheriff’s interest and has encouraged involvement in welcoming and supporting industry and inward investment. Right now, I am actively involved in major projects, such as Flintshire Business Week and promotion of Denbighshire’s world-class opto-electronics capabilities.
Under the banner ‘Making connections, moving forward’, I have sought out people and organisations with common and overlapping interests from around the county and further afield, bringing them together to discuss key issues and debate potential solutions. The format (18 guests, canapé starter and drinks, introductions at the table, place changes after each course and a couple of debating sessions chaired by the High Sheriff) has had excellent feedback. A couple of initiatives are already resulting. Two such dinner discussions have been held at home, addressing ‘Theatre, Business and the Community’ and ‘Youth Employment’. Two more follow next month, on ‘Literacy and Literature’ and ‘Encouraging and Sustaining Entrepreneurship’. I recommend this approach as being stimulating, enjoyable and effective.
Last, but very much not least, is my involvement with the wonderful, vital, local charities in Clwyd. Often staffed by superb volunteers, it has been a privilege to meet and support them whenever I can. As we heard at Burghley three years ago, the role of the High Sheriff is to ‘seek out good in the county, shine a light on it and help it thrive’. To help provide funds for their work, I held a ‘Country House Car Boot Sale’ in May for St Kentigern’s Hospice and Blind Veterans UK, and celebrated the 10th anniversary of Clwyd Crimebeat with a fundraising dinner last month.
Presenting an award to Izabelle Murphy, the winner of an urban art project, supported by Clwyd
After a 90-minute unscripted interview on Radio Rhyl.
Joining the West Rhyl Marshals on a clean-up project.
It is an honour and a privilege to have been invited to become the High Sheriff of Clwyd.
My Declaration Ceremony and service at the St Cynhafal’s Church in Llangynhafal on 30th March served to underline the history and continuity of the role of High Sheriffs in Denbighshire, Flintshire, Wrexham and Conwy since the 1500’s.
The High Sheriff is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to represent Her in the county in matters relating to law and order. During my year in office I look forward to being involved with and supporting the many people who make such an important contribution in this area, such as the Police, Judges and Magistrates, the Coroners and the Prison and Probation Services.
I am also keen to discover and celebrate the excellent work of the voluntary sector which is active in so many areas of life across Clwyd.
“Increasing connections, moving forward” is the theme of my year in office. By helping to stimulate and encourage dialogue between people and organisations with common interests, I hope to stimulate and encourage synergy, assisting all parties to achieve their objectives. I will also organise a series of fund-raising events for charities in the county who support sections of our community such as the elderly, terminally ill and blind that can so easily feel isolated and lonely.
In these challenging economic times, employment opportunities seem increasingly scarce for everyone – and particularly for the young, school leavers and recent graduates. During the year, we hope to organise a series of small events that will help stimulate and nurture entrepreneurship, business initiative and innovation.
Finally, my wife Sue and I also want to encourage the arts and the creative life of Clwyd and will be seeking opportunities to promote the work of local artists, sculptors and photographers.
High Sheriff of Clwyd 2012/2013
The year began with my Service of Declaration on March 25th in our local church St Mary’s Bersham, built originally as the Private Chapel of the Plas Power Estate but which for the last one hundred years has been run as a Charitable Trust which I now chair. This was followed two days later by a ‘Songs of Praise’ service in Wrexham Parish Church, the resting place of Elihu Yale, and whose tower is one of the Seven Wonders of Wales. My Chaplain preached on the theme of ‘What would our respective fathers have thought of our positions today?’
Since then I have attended ten Citizenship Ceremonies across the four Counties of which I am High Sheriff. Some of the stories of those having to leave their countries of origin have been most moving and it is very rewarding to welcome and congratulate them on achieving the none too easy task of becoming British Citizens and to explain the role of High Sheriff. It is worth going online to see some of the tests they have to go through and see how you fare !
I have visited one female prison so far and spent a day with the local Probation Service visiting some of their projects and ‘non-custodial option’ programmes. As an experienced magistrate I am well versed in the criminal justice system but I am shortly due to sit in a Coroner’s Court and County Court.
My wife and I hosted a Garden Party at our home in late June which was a fundraiser for one of my charities ‘Crimebeat’. This was attended by the Clwyd and Gwynedd ACF Corps of Drum Contingent who had kindly taken time out from a training weekend to be with us and who played and marched to add to the entertainment of the afternoon. The following day we had a Hog Roast in aid of St John Ambulance.
I have attended several Civic Dinners, Mayor-making ceremonies and Civic Services and given talks to a variety of different organisations on the role of the High Sheriff and the Lieutenancy.
A memorable event was my presiding over the relaunch of a narrow boat specifically designed to cater for the disabled. A large amount of money was raised by local volunteers to make this possible and my Chaplain duly blessed the boat.
An amazing coincidence in my Year as High Sheriff has been the ability to host the largest cultural event in Europe, namely the National Eisteddfod of Wales. This saw just under 150,000 people visit the event over a seven day period.
Much of my Year has been made so much easier by the support I have received from our local sixth form college, Yale College in Wrexham. After an initial talk with the Principal it quickly became clear that much could be done together.
Lloyd FitzHugh OBE, DL, JP
High Sheriff of Clwyd 2011/2012