January – March 2018
The final three months in office as High Sheriff have included a widerange of events and meetings.
Clearly the major event was my Legal Service which was held on 18 March. We woke up to a heavy overnight snowfall and wondered not only how guests would make it to the Cutlers’ Hall but also how many? Well the determination of my guests (a large number of whom come from Yorkshire) showed through. The apologies were very understandable. Fortunately, the vast majority of guests were able to make, it although I am left in awe at how some people fought their way to the venue.
The Legal Service took a very different form from previous years; it was a multi-faith event. My understanding is that this is only the second time in the whole of Shrieval history, which spans over a 1000 years, that the Legal Service has been a multi-faith event.
Five faiths symbolically took part: Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Moslem and Sikh, representing all the major faiths in South Yorkshire. There were readings from representatives of each of these faiths. These readings made all those present aware of the remarkable similarity in the morals and values of each of the religions. In addition there were readings by my older daughter, Jen Ingram and The Hon. Mr Justice Goose. Together all present reflected on Justice and Peace and what they mean in our complex, multi-faith communities. The event was highly successful and seemed to be especially valued by the ethnic minorities for its inclusivity.
There was a collection for my sponsored charity Whirlow Hall Farm Trust which raised over £10,900 including Gift Aid. Thank you to everyone who gave so generously.
Prior to the lunch which followed the Legal Service, I presented my High Sheriff’s awards to three excellent organisations, all of which are exemplars of community and inclusivity.
Crosspool Forum: highly active community group open to community members from the age of 16. It aims to improve the life of residents through appropriate contacts, consultation and action.
Together Women Project: moves women out of crime into positive futures, working with them in safe, women-only spaces, building resilience and developing strengths which enable them to move away from damaging lifestyles.
Rotherham United Community Sports Trust: community development programme which works across Rotherham, in deprived areas with different communities and age groups. It delivers under three main themes – education; health and wellbeing; sport and community development.
All these organisations highly deserved their Awards.
During the three month period I also undertook 3 Citizenship Ceremonies. Over my year in office I took part in ceremonies at which people from over 40 countries around the globe became UK citizens.
I attended a range of voluntary and charity events which included:
• the annual awards ceremony of the remarkable Inspiring Youth. What a great organisation which does such excellent work with young students;
• an excellent Sea Cadets parade;
• one special visit to Dearne Valley Community Fire Station to see a presentation put on by young adults participating in The Princes’ Trust programme, when Prince Charles visited. The Trust does excellent work in helping young people get into jobs, education and training;
• the police control room at Sheffield United v Leeds United. I was hugely impressed by the thoroughness of the approach to policing relatively large (and potentially difficult) sporting fixtures;
• a forum to consider the best approaches to tackling the increasing problem of youngsters who have been excluded from attending school.
I also sat in a number of different Courts, including the Family Court, and witnessed how hard the judges work to ensure both fairness during the course of the hearing and justice as the outcome.
October – December 2017
There is a consistent theme to my year serving as High Sheriff; time just seems to fly by. This update of activities during my year of office will therefore cover the three months October to December 2017.
The first week of October saw a flurry of activity. It started with a visit by HRH The Duke of Kent to Rotherham Hospital, where he officially opened the new Urgent and Emergency Care Centre.
The following day saw the installation of the new Master Cutler Ken Cooke. The next day, the Letters Patent Ceremony took place. This brief ceremony, which has taken place for centuries, grants the Court the authority to conduct its business for the forthcoming Court year.
Letters to Patent Ceremony
On the same day, my sponsored charity Whirlow Hall Farm Trust started, and completed, its wine harvest in record time. I visited the farm and had the privilege of meeting some great children from Manor Lodge School. There were two groups on an overnight residential stay – and they had clearly never previously met (nor heard of) a High Sheriff!
Then on the last day of the week The Princess Royal visited Doncaster where she officially opened the new Citizens’ Advice Bureau, which I should add is undertaking some excellent work.
Other notable visits and events during October included:
• Northern Racing College
• Madina Masjid Mosque
• Service of Celebration at Sheffield Cathedral, to celebrate the work of the Police and Fire Service in South Yorkshire.
A busy October ended with HRH The Duke of Gloucester visiting the new headquarters of Westfield Health. He was shown around before being briefed on the work undertaken by Westfield Health Charitable Trust in association with local and national charities.
My activities in November were similarly varied but very different from those in October, and included:
• A visit to The Crucible Theatre to see a performance specially commissioned for young schoolchildren to introduce them to musical instruments
• Graduation at Barnsley College
• Armistice Day Service at the Mansion House Doncaster
• Service of Remembrance at the Sheffield Cenotaph
• Sheffield Hallam University degree ceremonies at the Sheffield City Hall including the award of an honorary doctorate to Dorothy Fleming for her tireless work to combat prejudice and advance multifaith/multicultural understanding.
• Court award to an individual who showed great courage leading to the apprehension and conviction of two criminals
• Voluntary Action Rotherham Community Achievements Awards Dinner; another reminder, if one were needed, of some of the excellent voluntary work selflessly carried out in South Yorkshire by some remarkable people
• Visit to St Luke’s Hospice. What a fantastic facility – but it is the extraordinary people who work there, some paid and many volunteers, who make this hospice so warm, loving and caring – and very special.
And then into December, which started with the festival of light at St Luke’s, a moving event with everyone present taking their own personal experience from the occasion.
I spent a morning at the Lifewise Centre at Hellaby and saw groups of young people, being provided with excellent preparation for life on some of the more challenging topics which confront them, such as drugs, bullying, cyber bullying, grooming etc.
The following day I visited Endeavour, a charity which works hands-on with disadvantaged, disaffected and forgotten young people. It is clearly doing some exceptional work, but equally it is clearly in need of funds. When I visited, some trainee medics were coming to the end of a brief but very successful period of secondment, which demonstrates some imaginative and constructive thinking.
Shortly afterwards I attended a Prince’s Trust Graduation in Barnsley, where I had the privilege of seeing (and meeting) some very gritty and determined young adults, each of whom had their own personal issues. These individuals, with the support of The Prince’s Trust, had successfully completed a challenging three month course which seeks to help them build their self-esteem and self-worth (from a very low ebb) and helps to prepare them for job interviews and employment.They really impressed with how they had maturely progressed through the demanding course and how they made their excellent presentations in the very formal surroundings of Barnsley Council Chamber.
My official duties continued until Christmas Day. My two daughters, Jen and Ali, had come home for Christmas and wanted to spend some of Christmas Day with other people in the community before we had our Christmas dinner – which we always have in the evening.
Sheffield Christmas Dinner put on a Christmas feast for foster care leavers aged 18-25 (plus their children). This is the first time the event has been held in Sheffield. Jen and Ali spent the day preparing Christmas dinners for the guests whilst I greeted them. The event was great fun and it is hoped that it will be even bigger next year.
For completeness I should add that throughout this three month period I also attended Citizenship Ceremonies, numerous carol services and met a number of directors of charities, voluntary and public sector organisations.
I was told that the High Sheriff’s duties would be lighter over the summer months and, whilst this is true, it still seems to have been quite a busy period.
The first day of August is Yorkshire Dayand in South Yorkshire the Lord Mayor of Sheffield hosted the celebrations. This included a procession from Sheffield Town Hall to the Cathedral, where there was a delightful service. We returned to the Town Hall during a very heavy downpour – which made it a real Yorkshire Day! There was then a traditional Yorkshire lunch and speeches.
The Youdan Trophy commemorates the oldest football tournament in the world, the Football Challenge Cup (which precedes the FA Cup by four years). This year the tournament was held in Sheffield in the first week of August. Junior teams from some of the top clubs in the world participate and this year it was again an outstanding and highly successful event.
The following week I was invited to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Air Support Unit at Nostell, near Wakefield. This provides a fantastic service and is a great facility, funded by charitable donations.
Other events and activities in August and September included:
• commemorative paving stone to honour Sgt Loosemore who received a Victoria Cross on 8 August 2017. The stone was laid on the 100th anniversary of the action for which his VC was awarded
• visits to magistrates’ courts in Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield
• presenting an award, under the High Sheriff Scheme, to a very brave young man
• attending the Fire Service recruits’ graduation
• official opening of Sheffield Age UK’s new offices
I also attended the installation of the new Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Dr Pete Wilcox. Sheffield cathedral was full, with representatives from across the city and the wider diocese. The service began with a colourful procession and then, following an ancient tradition, Rt Revd Wilcox approached the West End of the cathedral and knocked three times on the main door. He was welcomed inside by young people from the city and the Dean of Sheffield, the Very Revd Peter Bradley.
At the end of September the Hon Recorder for Sheffield, Judge Goose, moved on to much greater heights on becoming a High Court Judge. We thank him for his great contribution to the judicial system whilst working in Sheffield and, as well as congratulating him on his new appointment, we also wish him well for the future.
I had intended to write a monthly update of my activities as High Sheriff – but after a busy June, July flew byand so here I am writing about what happened over this two month period.
The theme of my year in office is ‘inclusivity’ and in particular focusing on ensuring that children and young people in the age range 5 to 18 years feel part of, and involved with, society at large. As a result I have spent time with a number of organisations and charities which focus on youth engagement. This has included visits to and/or meetings with Inspiring Youth, Club Doncaster Foundation and Whirlow Hall Farm Trust. Allare excellent organisations carrying out essential and valuable work in this crucial and challenging field.
Whirlow Hall Farm Trust is my nominated charity. It provides a range of programmes for children and young people, particularly those who are vulnerable and/or challenged. It is a working farm which, every year, provides in excess of 10,000 student days of learning experience in a farm environment. Some of its programmes are specifically for children who have been excluded from school, with the objective of supporting them – by helping them with the development of skills so that they can be included again.
One of the highlights during this period was an invitation by Inner Temple to Temple Church, London, which is the church of Inner and Middle Temple, two of England’s four ancient societies of lawyers (the Inns of Court). It was built by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century, and was closely linked to the Magna Carta. Anne and I went to Evensong which was followed by dinner at Inner Temple Hall.
I returned to South Yorkshire the following day, which was the day of the General Election. I observed the votes being counted in both Barnsley and Sheffield. I then declared the results for the constituencies of Sheffield Hallam, and Penistone and Stocksbridge in my capacity as Returning Officer.
I have been out and about throughout South Yorkshire in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield – meeting a combination of chief executives, mayors, council leaders and religious leaders. Anne and I attended the Mayor’s Civic Ceremony in Barnsley and the Annual Civic Service and Parade in Doncaster; a few days later we were both at York Minster for the Consecration of the Very Reverend Peter Wilcox, the new Bishop of Sheffield. We were blessed with good weather for Armed Forces Day in Rotherham, and fortunately we had chosen an indoor venue for my Summer Reception, the magnificent Factory 2050 on the Advanced Manufacturing Campus.
I have continued to welcome new citizens to the county in the delightful Citizenship Ceremonies and have also attended degree ceremonies at the University of Sheffield. This included being present when the first Briton in Space, Dr Helen Sharman, was awarded an honorary degree;she proceeded to make an inspiring and motivational speech to the other graduates. We also welcomed The Duke of York when he visited the very forward-looking AESSEAL factory in Rotherham.
Towards the end of July we visited Clifford House, which is a new addition to St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield. It officially opens in September and is a superb facility which will be open to anyone who has an illness with no cure.
As I write this in early August, activity does not appear to have abated significantly, even though it is summer holiday time. More about this will follow soon.
My first few weeks in office as High Sheriff of South Yorkshire
I made my Declaration to become High Sheriff of South Yorkshire at the Sheffield Combined Court Centre on 6 April 2017. The ceremony was presided over by The Hon Mr Justice Males and The Honorary Recorder for Sheffield HH Judge Goose QC. In my speech at the Declaration I confirmed my intention to make “Inclusivity” the theme for my year of office.
I have been rather busy in the two months of April and May. My activities have included:
10 April My first official duty as High Sheriff was to be presented to HRH The Duke of York on his visit to The Cutlers’ Hall prior to officially opening AMRC Factory 2050. This is now formally known as “The Duke of York Factory 2050”.
11 April My first citizenship ceremony. A thoroughly enjoyable event where I welcomed, and officiated over the swearing in of, 15 new British citizens from a range of European, African and Asian countries.I attended my second citizenship ceremony a few weeks later on 9 May which was equally rewarding and involved 17 new British citizens from a similarly diverse spread of countries.
27 April I was privileged to be able to observe the truly impressive performance of the Ceremony of ‘Sounding Retreat’ at Minden House in Pontefract performed by The Band and Bugles of the Rifles and the Minden Bugles and Drums of E Company of the Army Cadet Force and finally the Veterans of the Light Division and Rifles Buglers’ Association.
2 May In the morning I attended Court with The Hon Mr Justice Goss, at the start of a rape trial. Clearly a challenging, difficult and emotionally testing time for all involved – not least the jury.
Later that day I attended a completely different kind of event: I had been invited by The Lord Mayor of Sheffield and the Leader of Sheffield City Council to attend a reception at Sheffield Town Hall to celebrate the (long overdue) promotion of Sheffield United to the Championship. Much celebration took place!
6 May A service at Sheffield Cathedral held to commemorate police officers who had lost their lives whilst serving in the South Yorkshire Police Force. I found this to be a most moving event, which underlined the fundamental importance of the police in ensuring the normality of our every day lives and the courage that this involves.
12 May Michelle Nicholson founded Key Changes a charity which supports women in the criminal justice system. This was a big day for her as she was launching her book “Without a Voice”. I have yet to read this but I understand that it is the story about how she was framed for the murder of her father and her subsequent fight for justice.
I have in my first few weeks of office also been involved in a range of other events. I have found out about the excellent support for charitable and public purposes provided by the Sheffield Town Trustees, a charity founded in 1297. I have also had meetings with the Very Reverend Peter Bradley, Dean of Sheffield, John Mothersole, Chief Executive of Sheffield City Council and Stephen Watson, the Chief Constable for South Yorkshire Police. In additionAnne and I had the privilege of attending a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, as well as a lunch immediately following the election of Anne Murphy as the new Lord Mayor of Sheffield. In addition we were delighted to be guests of The Master Cutler at The Cutlers’ Feast.
Finally,following an excellent, thought-provoking guest lecture by the very highly respected economist Martin Wolf, associate editor and chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, I attended a dinner hosted by Sir Keith Burnett, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield.