High Sheriffs Awards
Like all High Sheriffs I have had an extraordinary Year and met some remarkable people in a role partly reactive and partly proactive. Rather than cover what is really common ground, I thought it might be helpful to briefly recount some particular experiences.
Having failed to find a part-time PA as I initially had in mind, I did all my own secretarial work, mostly by email (apart from the handwritten thank-you letters). This meant I was fully aware of my programme but was very time-consuming when arranging a number of different events concurrently.
I adopted as my theme the problem of youth crime which proved a good choice. So, as well as the more usual court, police and prison visits, I went to see many initiatives to steer young people away from crime, ranging from police and local authority partnerships in seriously deprived areas of Grimsby, to army, police and air cadets. In addition I saw the Youth Offending Service, the ‘respect’ mock trial process for first time offenders, and a secure children’s home.
With Gold Youth Offenders at Immingham on the 'Get Hooked on Fishing' project (part funded
by the Tribune Trust).
On an earlier visit to HMP North Sea Camp, a Category ‘C’ open prison, I had seen the prison farm from which the prison is supplied with good and inexpensive food, but the staff were feeling somewhat out of touch with the farming community. I was able to return later with a small party of farmers and some useful links are being made.
No High Court Judge was expected to sit at Lincoln during my year so, with encouragement from the Resident Crown Court Judge, I arranged a Legal Service in our magnificent cathedral on a Sunday morning and invited senior judges with experience on the Midland Circuit. In the event, two Lord Justices of Appeal, two High Court Judges and eight local judges joined barristers and other dignitaries in an impressive procession from the Crown Court in Lincoln Castle to the Cathedral for a service followed by a reception in the Chapter House.
I was keen to help both the Probation Trust and the Youth Offending Service raise their profile. Neither has money to spare for public relations in these difficult times. I arranged for a team from each to put on an interactive presentation on two separate evenings at home to invited audiences of 25-30 comprising church leaders, our resident judge, HR chiefs from major local employers, representatives from the local universities, the RAF etc. These evenings were well received by both sides and really useful links were made which are only achievable on a face to face basis; for example between the YOS and major employers able to offer work experience.
With winners of the High Sheriff's Awards and their supporters with, on the left, the Lord Lieutenant
Tony Worth, outside the Crown Court in Lincoln Castle.
Although High Sheriffs are not obliged to fund-raise, I arranged one such event – a lecture given by Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles (a former ambassador to Afghanistan) with wine and canapés, which proved a sell-out raising a useful surplus for the Lincolnshire Community Foundation and the Tribune Trust.
These two grant-aiding charities also helped me to identify numerous voluntary organisations, all of which welcomed visits, sometimes to present cheques. When possible, publicity in the local paper resulted, to further boost the cause concerned. In a large county like this, succeeding High Sheriffs will easily find many more such organisations to support and encourage.
After the Battle of Britain Service in Lincoln Cathedral with the Honorary Recorder of Lincoln
(Judge Sean Morris), the Dean of Lincoln (The Very Revd Philip Buckler), and the Lord Lieutenant (Tony Worth).
For the High Sheriff’s Award scheme, I invited nominations from some 40 organisations. From the 20 received, I gave awards (a certificate and a silver badge) to 13 individuals in a ceremony in the Crown Court which was well-covered in the recipients’ own local papers.
So, with a multitude of different visits and events both great and small, a second Cathedral service, a considerable number of Court Awards and six Royal visits, it has been a busy but extremely rewarding year.
High Sheriff of Lincolnshire 2011/2012