High Sheriffs Awards
I must have attended around 150 occasions involving the voluntary sector during my Year. At all of them I found myself continually being impressed by the quality and dedication of the many volunteers who glue our society together. I also saw first-hand the extraordinary commitment of many public servants, especially those whose work is devoted to our hard-pressed judicial system. The Governor of HM Prison Erlestoke – which won a Butler Trust award presented by HRH The Princess Royal – asked what was the best moment of my year. I replied that it followed my presentation of A-level certificates to undergraduates from our local comprehensive school, St Laurence, four of whose former pupils were up at Cambridge with another in the same year group up at Oxford. “Thank you for reminding us we can make a difference”, was their message.
The commitment and respect shown by the people of Wootton Bassett to our fallen servicemen led to a very special visit, starting in a snow flurry, by their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. My good friend the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire came over for one of the, sadly, all-too-frequent repatriation ceremonies in the High Street.
Jamie’s Farm, a new charity running a lauded week-long residential programme for challenging teenagers, bought a permanent site at Hill House Farm, Box, which was splendid news. Members of Jamie’s Farm attended our Wiltshire Youth Justice Conference. The charity provides an intensive experience of living and working in a family-oriented farming community, with a particular focus on success and positive praise. Groups of up to 10 young people, largely from inner-city areas, stay on the farm for five days where they are supported by a high ratio of trained adults. The farm provides opportunities for achievement and reflection and helps the young people to transfer their learning about themselves and others, through successful engagement with farm activities, to their own lives back in urban areas.
Our Crimebeat Fund reached the £100,000 capital milestone and attracted good project bids. In addition, the Blues ‘n’ Zuz monthly discos run by police officers in market towns continue to be very popular. Through our Chief Constable, Brian Moore, I was involved with the annual Domestic Abuse Conference, and was pleased to see the successful co-operation between the new unitary Wiltshire Council and the Borough of Swindon with this initiative. Brian Moore holds the national lead role in ACPO in this challenging area.
We have a successful Salamander programme operating in the County for vulnerable youngsters. For a week firefighters teach them how to trust and rely upon each other while they are working together. An enormous amount can be achieved in a short time. It was both an honour and a pleasure to meet those involved.
Our excellent roadshow, Safe Drive Stay Alive, which I also attended, has now been attended by 25,000 young people. I admire the courage of the parents who participate.
From the top of the Fire Ladder, I enjoyed a great view of Christ Church, Swindon, where we held a fundraising concert for Swindon Cares. The beneficiaries were the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and LEAVES, a brilliant workers’ cooperative employing people suffering from depression on gardening and other outdoor tasks for the Borough Council.
The 170th Anniversary Service of the Wiltshire Police was a very moving highlight. This was held in Salisbury Cathedral. On this occasion I was very privileged to be shown the Salisbury copy of the Magna Carta (3rd edn) before cutting the celebratory birthday cake in the Chapter House.
On a fine June evening our Judges, Bishop, Lord Lieutenant and many friends helped my wife and I celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Holt Morris, a traditional Cotswold Morris side based in Holt, Wiltshire, which includes our gardener of 24 years, and the following evening we raised funds for Crimebeat with the help of a number of very generous sponsors and the Wiltshire and Swindon Community Foundation.
Robert Floyd DL
High Sheriff of Wiltshire 2009/2010