High Sheriffs Awards
My first and memorable duty as High Sheriff was to attend the presentation of awards to a group of young people in King's Lynn who had successfully completed a three-month course, organised by The Prince’s Trust to build their skills of team working, self-esteem and confidence. This course had led directly to several of the students receiving job offers. As a result of her hard work, one young lady changed her life from drug addiction and being the despair of her family to working in an old people's home specialising in Alzheimer’s disease. Her family openly wept at the ceremony as she recounted her tale of the journey from drug addiction to citizen.
I have been very fortunate in my life so it is a privilege to be able to try and put something back into the community of Norfolk, my family home. This early experience at King's Lynn made me think – what can I do in this coming year that will make a real difference? The answer is I decided to raise £200,000 for the Norfolk Community Foundation to help young people and others in Norfolk.
It is hopeless to set up a new charity to raise funds for one year only. Hence the decision to use an existing charity, which has already done so much since its inception to raise the profile of the smaller, lesser known charities in the county. I hope that the ‘High Sheriff's Nourishing Norfolk Together Fund’ will achieve the target I have set myself and that my successors will use this vehicle to continue to raise funds for the priorities they choose. In fundraising you have 'to aim for the stars and hope you clear the tops of the trees’!
One cannot do this role without the very quick realisation that it is the volunteers in every area who make so much of the support possible. In a time when finance and money are becoming tighter and budgets are cut, we all have to work in a much more ‘joined-up’ way. I can only give praise and gratitude to the many organisations which I have had the honour to visit and meet. The range is huge, covering the emergency services, three prisons, the courts, a very wide range of charities and the county and district councils and voluntary groups. The list would fill a paragraph alone.
I have even crossed the border into Suffolk. I was grateful to Andrew Norman-Butler for his generous hospitality when we visited Otley Agricultural College, which has recently merged with our Easton College in Norfolk. I have no doubt it will be hugely successful under the leadership of the Principal, David Lawrence
OBE. Agriculture, food production and water management will be very key skills for young people in the east of England, if we are to feed a growing world population without sacrificing the environment and biodiversity.
Of the more unusual activities undertaken I have helped the stoker (Councillor Leslie Dale from South Norfolk District Council) on the footplate of a pannier tank steam engine on the Mid-Norfolk Railway – this is where Judge Peter Jacobs sends offenders to carry out scrub clearance along the trackside as a part of their community service sentence, and a very good job they are making of doing 'time on the railway'.
Helping the stoker (Councillor Leslie Dale from South Norfolk District Council) on the footplate of a
pannier tank steam engine on the Mid-Norfolk Railway.
I recently had the privilege of visiting the newly constructed wind farm off the North Norfolk coast – 88 wind turbines in the most hostile marine environment, a real tribute to the engineers who constructed them and the crews which have to carry out their maintenance. My transport was the Cromer Offshore Lifeboat, latest Taymar Class – yet another example of the professionalism and dedication of volunteers. Cromer was the lifeboat station where Henry Blogg was Coxswain 1909-47, and the Cromer lifeboat saved 873 lives during his 53-year career as a crew member. His lifeboat, HF Bailey, is now the main feature in the lifeboat museum. My thanks go to Tony Webster, who has been Chairman of the Cromer Lifeboat for the last 30 years, for organising such a memorable day.
In conclusion I hope that I have done a little to help bring recognition and gratitude to the many who do so much to help keep Norfolk the special county it is, in what has been such a special Diamond Jubilee, Olympic and Paralympic year. I even took part in the flotilla down the Thames as a part of the Norfolk boat.
’Busy, humbling and a real honour’ would sum up my experiences thus far, but there’s so much more to do - £200,000 in charitable fundraising only part of the list.
Henry Cator OBE DL
High Sheriff of Norfolk 2012/2013
I am sure I am not the first High Sheriff to be married to their Under Sheriff! Charles has been involved with the Shrievalty for about 20 years, in fact for more than half our married life. He says I am the most demanding of all his High Sheriffs to date but I can’t thank him enough for the help and support he has given me in this wonderful Year; not only in organising the legal Services but also in giving general advice on all things to do with the judiciary and generally keeping me on the straight and narrow and on time for duties.
Having been to many Justice Services and readings of Letters Patent as the Under Sheriff’s wife and therefore knowing the Norfolk Judges well was a great advantage, but I really had no idea of exactly what else the High Sheriff’s duties involved, so as for many others it was a pretty steep learning curve. I went to the Magistrates Courts, Prisons and Probation services early on but had no idea that those initial visits would lead to many more. Norfolk is strong in restorative approaches and I took part in a programme at HMP Wayland – I am pleased to say another is being planned at HMP Norwich.
A visit to Victim Support took me to a day with the court witness support, an evening with a group of survivors of domestic violence and a meeting with a victim of abuse who was waiting for her court case. As my theme for the Year was domestic abuse these were particularly interesting visits and I also had evenings out with those giving help and support to the prostitutes in Norwich. I collaborated with two local charities and my fund-raising in the year was aimed at establishing drop-in centres in parts of rural Norfolk where in small communities and isolated places it is very difficult for women and girls to find anybody to talk to about their problems. There is a proven link between alcohol and abuse and if we can help in the early stages before they become high-risk, I feel we will be able to make a huge difference to many people.
Supporting the judiciary remains an integral part of a High Sheriff’s duties and I have found it all absolutely fascinating. We had four visiting High Court Judges in the year including two from the Family Division and it was wonderful being able to sit with all of them.
Norfolk Constabulary has made me so welcome, both at Headquarters and in the County. I have been to see them both in action and training including watching members of the special constabulary and PCSOs with their horses on a new initiative to tackle rural crime. I know how much policing goes on away from the public view and it was a real honour to be able to attend the ceremonies where awards are given to these brave men and women.
Similarly to the Fire Service who do an incredible job. I was adopted by the Urban Search and Rescue Team (there are only 19 in the country) who showed me what they do by throwing me in then rescuing me from the River Yare and teaching me how to abseil – I loved it! I observed an exercise they organised involving a plane crash with passengers lost in woods and potential survivors in water; all in the dark and none of the police, lifeboat service, fire, ambulance, lowland search and rescue crews knowing what had happened until they got to the scene. I have done 12-hour shifts with both ambulance and paramedics and am really impressed at the way in which they deal with all emergencies, sometimes just providing social care for vulnerable people, all within tight timescales. Being almost surrounded by the sea, the Lifeboat service is vital to Norfolk and I have had a wonderful time with them too; similarly on the Norfolk Broads which are so important to tourism. I watched the Light Dragoons training for their tour in Afghanistan, have visited the RAF at Marham on several occasions and, with the High Sheriffs of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, was royally entertained by the American Air Force at RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall. The armed forces, particularly the RAF, play an important part in Norfolk life.
I have seen the education system at work at all levels: a school attached to Childhood First, a specialist children’s home, with eight pupils and one-to-one teaching; a primary school with children from very difficult home lives which has been brought out of threat of closure by an inspirational head using the restorative rather than punitive approach; a large secondary school where I opened two vocational departments for those pupils not wanting further education; a day/boarding school for those with specialist learning needs; and the University of East Anglia where together with the Dean of Law we established The High Sheriff’s Law Lecture. This was given by Brenda Hale, the most senior woman in the English judicial system and a member of the Supreme Court. I hope this will become an annual event.
As well as HM The Queen’s visit on accession day, HRH The Princess Royal came in June 2011 and HRH The Prince of Wales made a memorable trip to Great Yarmouth in February. There have been many civic services and events and Charles and I have made so many friends amongst the mayors and chairmen of Norfolk councils. The opening of the Mart in King’s Lynn was a wonderful day. It is the first in the season of travelling fairs where the charter dating back to 1537 is read out before everyone takes to the dodgems with the Bishop, Mayor and High Sheriff all in their finery.
On the dodgems at the Mart in King's Lynn with Superintendant Dave Marshall.
I am sure every High Sheriff is asked what the highlight of their Year is and it is such a difficult question to answer! Our two Justice Services were great occasions and I was so pleased that we managed to get the Norwich civic coach (given to the City exactly 100 years ago to the week with the proviso that it should be used to take the Judge to court) out of mothballs for the service in Norwich Cathedral on a beautiful autumn morning. It was driven by John Parker with four matched greys formerly belonging to HM The Queen and there is no doubt that it added to the enormous sense of tradition and history felt by everyone there.
But what was the highlight? I think my answer would be the people I have met during this year. There are literally thousands who give their time, energy, expertise, care and love, either employed or voluntarily, but in most cases who are taken for granted and quietly get on with the job. I have talked to some wonderful people who immediately made me realise that nothing is that bad, that there is good everywhere and there is always hope for everyone. They are the heroes of Norfolk.
The Year as High Sheriff has been so much more than I ever expected and it has been a privilege to serve this wonderful County where I have spent so much of my life.
Mrs Georgina Holloway
High Sheriff of Norfolk 2011/2012