Our county is probably the last to hold its Legal Service, and what a peak to our year it offers! After weeks of planning and discussion, surrounded by family, friends, members of the judiciary, representatives of the police and fire and rescue services, and many people from the voluntary and community sector associated with homelessness and housing, the service was one to remember. I had thought that the event would be ‘mine’ but all the feedback told us that our 9 year old grand-daughter stole the show, with her New Testament reading. She had been thrilled to be asked and rose to the occasion with confidence and respect; how proud we felt!
The Doncaster Minster staff were very helpful and worked closely with us in the preparatory work, to include in the service those aspects of my year that have been important to me. The service was enhanced, by an augmented choir, who sang, at our request, a couple of John Rutter’s works. The music soared into the rafters, stirring our emotions and lifting our spirits. I was delighted that the Mayor of Doncaster agreed to share reflections from the Quran, relating on how we treat vulnerable people. I was honoured and humbled that the Right Honourable Lord Justice, Steven Males had agreed to preach the sermon, which proved to be another highlight of the day. Lord Justice Males officiated at my Declaration ceremony so to have him at this service gave great poignancy to my year. Many people commented on how skillfully he had crafted the sermon, which seemed to have a message for everyone, regardless of role or status. The intimate setting of the beautiful Doncaster Mansion House provided an elegant venue for lunch, which we shared with over 100 guests. I was a little apprehensive about my speech but the formal response from HH Judge Sarah Wright, from the Combined Sheffield Court, left me feeling I had given my year ‘a good shot’!
It felt as if that weekend should have been the ‘grand finale’ but I still had another 10 days to serve in the role. However the pressure was now over and we were able to enjoy those 10 days to the full.
Prior to the Legal Service, we had spent 3 days in court, one of them with the Tribunal service, where we witnessed the hearing of appeals from benefits claimants and from people with disabilities or chronic illness who felt that they had not been fairly treated, We realised how important these systems and services are, in providing people with an opportunity to challenge judgements about how the welfare state should or should not support them. The vulnerability of so many individuals and families left us appreciating not only this aspect of the judicial service but also reflecting on our own good fortune.
I broadcast, on Rotherham FM, about the launch of the Homelessness Survival Guide for South Yorkshire, at the Shiloh Centre in Rotherham, following the initial launch in Sheffield. Shiloh hosted the event and I am indebted to them for their support. It was well attended by local councillors, trustees, volunteers and the press. The booklet seems to have been well received, not only locally but also in other counties in the region, who may wish to produce a similar guide.
It gave me another opportunity to highlight the plight of some of society’s most vulnerable and how we can all play a part in making a fairer society.
How to survive homelessness: A new guide launches to support those in crisis
The launch of the guide at Ben’s Centre, Sheffield, with the support and hard work of the South Yorkshire Community Foundation. https://www.sycf.org.uk/how-to-survive-homelessness-a-new-guide-launches-to-support-those-in-crisis/
We had a delightful day visiting two local primary schools in communities, where volunteers had recently received the Queen’s Award for Community Service. The Silkstone Care team spends lots of time maintaining and improving the environment of two villages, Silkstone and Silkstone Common, with flowers, shrubs and tree planting, and the inevitable litter picking, as well as managing several small woods and copses in the area. We went to the schools to talk about the role of the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff as well as the importance of volunteering and caring for the environment. The children asked lots of pertinent questions and even wrote a list of questions for me to take home to answer when the time ran out. It is a long time since I had homework!
I attended and took the salute at the cadet passing out parade in Armthorpe of the 1053 (Armthorpe) Sqn ATC. I continue to be impressed not just by the young people who attend the centre on two nights every week but by the civilian instructors and supporters who devote hours of their free time to train and teach the young people both technical and life skills that will remain with them through life.The cadets’ presentation, with well pressed uniforms and highly ‘bulled’ boots, shows the care they take with the attention to detail in their personal appearance. Certificates and badges of rank were presented, for a whole range of goals achieved, to youngsters eager to progress and improve. It was heartwarming to see the often under-reported side of youth being involved in positive skill development, team work, and community activities.
I was delighted to be invited by my, now close, friends at Barnsley Museums to the opening of a new exhibition, at Experience Barnsley, called Tins, Tins, Tins, about the world’s best Tin factory, The Cannister Company of Barnsley. This factory, which became part of the Metal Box Company, sadly closed and eventually the factory was demolished, but its heritage has been preserved in this exhibition. The tins manufactured here were often designed by world-class designers, and the tins exported around the world. The exhibition not only presented some of the amazing tins, but also captured the voices and experiences of many people who worked in the factory, and reminded us also of the connection with the ‘Green Monk’ toy company of Darfield, which manufactured tin plate toys. Some memories and stories were captured in a poem written by the ‘stand up poet’, Kate Fox, who read it to those invited to the launch.
Barnsley Museums staff have been particularly supportive and generous in my Shrieval year, and I am indebted to them for offering the use of all their venues to host and entertain many visitors. All our guests have been impressed by the work of the Museums and we have been able to ‘show-case’ some of the wonderful features of our town.
I was very happy to accept an invitation, from the Mayor of Doncaster, to the official opening of a new Mosque in Doncaster, the Jamia Masjid Sultania. I am indebted to the friendships offered to me by all the South Yorkshire Mayors and their Deputies as well as people like the Master Cutler, all of whom, like me, are in office for one year.
Several of us met at two memorial services at Hillsborough, led by the Bishop of Sheffield, which marked 30 years since that tragedy in our county. I was able to join and support the Mayor of Barnsley at one of his fund-raising events, a concert in Barnsley by the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band, just 2 days before ‘handing over the sword’. It was a splendid evening of rich music.
We ended the year with a Royal Visit by the Duke of Gloucester, whom we greeted at the Millennium Galleries in Sheffield, where an exhibition, of Leonardo’s De Vinci’s Sketches marked 500 years since his death. We were able to share with staff and volunteers, the amazing work of this great polymath.
And so the year – of 55 weeks – ended, with the declaration of my successor, John Pickering, who is now the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire. I left my role with mixed feelings; feelings of relief that I could begin to ‘get my life back again’ but also feelings of sadness, that this rich and rewarding year had closed. I can only wish John and Julie good health and energy to enjoy every minute of what will be a momentous year in their lives.
This is our 12th blog but not our last. As the Shrieval year is linked to Easter, the High Sheriffs of 2018-19 add a further 3 weeks to their activities; will we stand the pace, we ask!
We were privileged to welcome two Royal Visitors to South Yorkshire, this month. The Duchess of Wessex visited Oasis, a kitchen manufacturing company in Doncaster and the Duke of Gloucester, amongst other things, visited SpringWell School in Barnsley. The latter visit was particularly rewarding as the school, for children with particular needs, had worked with musicians from Ensemble 360 (the most successful chamber music ensemble outside London) to entertain their visitors. We have a long-standing link with the Ensemble so this visit was a joining up of my involvement with the school, music and my role as High Sheriff.
Another delight of the month was a further joining up our love of Ensemble 360, with support for the judiciary. We shared a wonderful evening at home with 25 guests and 3 members of Ensemble 360 who provided us with an intimate insight into their skills and music. Conversations, chamber music and a buffet supper were a winning formula and we are indebted to the professional musicians for sharing their music-making.
The Lord Chief Justice visited the county, giving a lecture on the future of the legal system, followed by supper, at The University of Sheffield, as a guest of Lady Justice Rafferty, the Chancellor of the university. I was also invited to a reception with the Lord Chief Justice. We celebrated at the University, with successful students on apprenticeship programmes with the Advanced Manufacturing and Research Centre Training Centre, and returned, at the end of the month, to hear another lecture, this time on the future of university teaching and learning. We will certainly take up invitations to attend such lectures after my year of office is over.
I visited the MCVC veterans initiative in Rotherham which helps with ex-military personnel returning to civilian life; my work with homeless charities links directly with such activities as so many ex-military personnel end up with difficult lives, experiencing mental ill-health and often living on the streets.
I have brokered a link with Ben’s Centre in Sheffield, which also recognizes the need for post-military assistance
Perhaps I will look back at this month as the pinnacle of my year, as my ambition of producing a Survival Guide for homeless people was realised. With the support, hard work and determination of South Yorkshire Community Foundation and the voluntary work of 2 students from The University of Sheffield and 2 from Hallam University a directory of services has been published. It was launched at Ben’s Centre in Sheffield, a local charity which supports people who are homeless or sleeping rough. Local authorities; charities and community organisations, as well as members of the judiciary, supported the launch. I gave an interview on BBC Radio Sheffield to spread the news across the area. Everyone enthusiastically welcomed the resource. I will launch it in other South Yorkshire towns over the coming weeks.
I was honoured by an invitation to the East Riding Legal Service, held in Beverley. This was a warm and well attended event and gave me lots of insight into what lies ahead at my Legal Service; it was good to talk with other High Sheriffs as well as members of the legal professions.
Many meetings and hours have been spent preparing for the S Yorks Legal Service which will take place on April 7th. We realize how much detailed planning must go into such events; we’re looking forward to the celebration at Doncaster Minster and lunch in the Grade 1 listed Mansion House.
I contributed to another Citizenship Ceremony; more and more people from the EU are seeking citizenship status, in the light of the current political situation, and the month ended with a farewell ceremony in the Magistrates Court in Doncaster. The chair of the South Yorkshire Magistrates retired and was honoured with speeches from the Senior Recorder of Sheffield; the Lord Lieutenant; District Judges and co-magistrates. It was a fitting occasion, marking many years of voluntary service to the legal system.
Get up to Speed with STEM celebrated its ninth annual exhibition of student participation in business and industry at the Magna Centre at the end of the month. ‘This year is bigger and better’, was the comment from John Barber of the Work-Wise Foundation, which pioneered the concept.
It was an exciting opportunity for young people to show off their work engagement and for business to engage both with students and educators.
Children from as young as eight were engaged in designing and building working models that tested and related to many parts of the national curriculum, whilst having fun! Leading manufacturers have taken on board the idea that by engaging with young people before subject options have to taken, is a way of helping to influence career decisions.
We are now on the final stretch of the Shrieval year.
It hardly seems possible that we are only a few weeks away from the end of our Shrieval year. The engagements and activities continue to be varied and interesting and we have been planning, in earnest, for the Legal Service, to be held at the beginning of April. Here are some highlights from the month.
We spent 4 days sitting with Judges in both the Criminal and Family Courts. The differences in practice between the two is striking, with Judges in the Family Court making decisions following the advocacy of legal practitioners and Judges in the Criminal Court working with Jurors, who make decisions. We are humbled by the generosity of spirit, time and effort shown by the Judiciary, in helping us to understand the challenges of the system; where support is needed and where frustrations arise. We were able to invite one of the Family Court Judges, and her partner, to an evening at the Sheffield Crucible Theatre; the standard of performance is always inspiring. We held another dinner at home, inviting District and Circuit Judges, along with friends and family; these evenings always feel relaxed and fun.
I contributed to another Citizenship Ceremony at the beginning of the month. It is always interesting to talk with people who want to live in our county; the European challenges have prompted some to make the decision, whilst many others have escaped troubled and dangerous places in the world. This does emphasise, in spite of the political challenges we currently face, how people value our relatively law-abiding, peaceful country and the freedoms it offers.
I supported the Inspiring Youth Awards, where the S Yorkshire Police, in conjunction with the Judiciary, do just what it says on the tin: ‘inspire youth’.
Young people, from areas of low attainment are encouraged to develop their education, while improving their self-esteem and building life skills.
Now in its twelfth year the young people become ambassadors in their communities and their schools encouraging others with their ‘can do’ attitude.
I attended an Army Engagement evening at the Cutlers Hall in Sheffield where a presentation was made outlining the prospects and career paths of those wishing to pursue a military career. Particular emphasis was placed on the skills training that is given and how this can be readily transferred to civilian work later in life.
On the community front, I met with the organisers of Silkstone Care Group, who received a Queens Award for Voluntary Service recently, to plan a visit to two local primary schools. I will explain the Award, the role of the High Sheriff and introduce them to some of the volunteers and the voluntary activities, which enhance their villages and their environment.
I visited the Barnsley Churches Drop-In centre, which runs 3 days each week, offering hot food, clothing and support to homeless people, as well as emergency food parcels and sign-posting to further services. This project runs with only 1 paid part-time member of staff and a large team of volunteers. It is absolutely clear that much of the fabric of society is based upon volunteering, much of which is unrecognized.
I was invited to a Women’s Community Group, run by a local Barnsley church, who were curious about the role of High Sheriff, and, in particular, the voluntary and community work which I am doing around homelessness.
An invitation to the Swinton Probus Club enabled further enlightenment of the role of the High Sheriff in today’s society. The talk was well received and questions flowed. It highlighted the need to spread the word about the role and especially how engaging with the community can bring benefits through strong networking.
Both of these groups made contributions to the publication of the Homeless Survival Guide, which I am supporting and for which I am very grateful.
Probably the high point of the month was to receive an invitation to share the commemorations and see the Fly-Past over Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, to mark 75 years since a US plane crashed in that park, losing all ten crew on board. It was prompted by a chance meeting between Tony Foulds, a man who has tended a memorial to those who lost their lives, for the last 50 years, and a BBC news broadcaster, Dan Walker, who was walking his dog. Tony was a child, playing in the park when the plane came down. He believed that the pilot signaled to him and his friends to get out of the way, meaning that their lives were saved. Tony told his story to Dan, who secretly arranged a wonderful commemoration and a US Airforce Fly Past, as a surprise for Tony. I joined over 10 thousand people in the park, along with the full BBC Breakfast programme team, who broadcast the whole event, on national TV. The atmosphere was charged and emotional; Sheffield City Council had worked hard with all the contributors and organisers, to ensure that this significant local event had national coverage. On the following Sunday, an annual service, to mark the event, was held in St Augustins Church, Endcliffe, where relatives of the fallen men, members of the US Airforce, the Bishop of Sheffield and the Lord Lieutenant joined in a service of remembrance. This too was a very emotional and moving service, culminating in the presentation of an American flag to the Deputy Lord Mayor of Sheffield.
Following this amazing event, and a quick dash home to collect Jan and clean the mud from my shoes, we welcomed the Princess Royal, at the opening of the National College for High Speed Rail in the home of railways, Doncaster.
This new state-of-the art College bristles with technology and encompasses innovation, digital design and leadership, offering training and work experience for students over 18. The future of travel is the railway!
Meetings with the Vicar of Doncaster Minster, to plan the Legal Service and with the South Yorkshire, High Sheriff’s Advisory Committee to discuss succession plans signaled that my year is beginning to draw to a close.
As soon as Christmas and New Year celebrations were over and the decorations removed, we were able to take a break, spending two weeks walking in Southern Spain. The light in Andalucia at that time of year is a wonderful antidote to the, often, grey days of South Yorkshire. We returned energized and refreshed.
Sadly, due to the holidays, we missed the presentation of the Queens Award for Voluntary Service being awarded to the ‘CARE’ group from a village close to home, where, over many years, people have got together to improve the local environment. They develop and maintain gardens and wild spaces; organise hanging baskets and generally care for their community; the QAVS is the equivalent to an MBE, so an honour indeed! We will catch up with the group again shortly and take the award into local Primary Schools to explain the significance of the award and how the schools could become involved.
Several meetings have taken place this month, with the Under Sheriff and others, to plan the legal service, which will take place in April; this is probably the biggest event of the High Sheriff’s year. Mine will take place at Doncaster Minster followed by lunch at the Mansion House.
I had a short meeting with someone who is a High Sheriff in nomination to help inform and prepare for what is involved in the role. I believe that greater attention should be paid to mentoring of High Sheriffs in nomination by past High Sheriffs to enable a smooth flow into the role.
We also took part in another Citizenship Ceremony in Sheffield. The diversity of skills and knowledge, which people bring from a wide range of countries, confirms that many do find us a welcoming country and want to stay here; long may that last! However, whilst I welcome the skills that are brought to the UK, I am saddened that their home country will not benefit from those same skills.
Once more our local authority, Barnsley, generously helped us to host members of the judiciary, along with friends, at Experience Barnsley, the town’s museum located in the Town Hall. We heard an introduction to the wonderful cultural sites in the town and were shown several items from the archives. These included the certificate granting the charter for Barnsley as a Metropolitan Borough and a letter from Oliver Cromwell, along with an opportunity to browse the shelves, looking up old records. We heard how Barnsley Archive service is probably in the top ten in the country for the number of people who use it, and how placing the service in the Town Hall has opened it to so many more people. There are still hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes of archive material still to ‘mined’ and catalogued to facilitate an ever-changing exhibition of Barnsley life. Many items are now digitally available to allow even wider access. We visited the temporary exhibition, Barnsley Remembers, about the end of World War 1, which graphically demonstrated, in a very personal way, the involvement of many Barnsley women and men in that tragic era, as well as the celebrations and home-comings. We were introduced to staff, who spoke of their work in receiving, cataloguing and displaying exhibits donated by local people. This is very much a museum of Barnsley, filled by donations about Barnsley, from Barnsley people. We handled mysterious items – some of which remain mysterious – as well as more familiar artefacts such as a collection of tins made by The Barnsley Canister Company, We all enjoyed a delicious buffet supper, in the museum, surrounded by exhibits and displays.
We joined in the annual Sheffield Hospital Sunday Service at the Sheffield Jewish Congregation Kingfield Synagogue, an ecumenical service which supports the Hospital Charity. We not only shared the service but also a wonderful afternoon tea where we heard how the money donated is used to help people in small, but essential, ways relating to hospital visits or stays.
The following day I attended two Holocaust Memorial events, Learning from genocide – for a better future. The first was in Rotherham where I took part in a procession through the town to an open-air event entitled “Torn from Home”; the official theme for 2019. We heard singing and music from local schools and musicians, tributes and speeches from local dignitaries and a talk and song from Rabbi Golom. A moving personal account from a refugee of how she spent time in a refugee camp and eventually made her way to the UK where she has been able to receive education and build a new life was a powerful example of the compassion that is inherent in us, and our communities.
The second was in Barnsley where we met in a local secondary school. Pupil awards were presented for their poetry about the Holocaust; others interpreted the Holocaust through dance, following a day of learning and understanding the reasons for the memorial. We heard from a Holocaust Survivor about his experiences of escaping the horrors and traumas of the genocide; a moving and challenging story. The event also marked other genocides, which have taken place, as well as those continuing today. This marked the end of a sad, reflective and thought-provoking day.
On a more optimistic note, the following day I attended one of a series of planned launches of the new Barnsley CVS taking place at a number of community venues around the Borough. This was a strong demonstration of the desire of the service to reach out into all parts of the town. It was good to learn how their declared role is to, “…promote any charitable purpose for the benefit of Barnsley, such as the advancement of education, health and the relief of poverty, by bringing together the whole Third Sector and local partner agencies.” This new beginning for CVS is to be welcomed and supported.
Another celebration was held the following day at Centrepoint, in Barnsley, where we were invited, along with many others, to mark the contributions made by volunteers, donors and partners. The first year report, April 2017-18, tells of hard work, commitment and dedication by the whole team and catalogues a year of events and activities and progress. The visit by HRHs the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was a fitting tribute, not only to their work but also in marking the opening of an education and training centre in the grounds of Centrepoint, Barnsley. I am encouraged by all who support this work in helping to make a huge difference to young people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness. By offering caring guidance, support, education, and sometimes ‘tough love’, lives are transformed.
The end of the month was marked with a meeting with the Executive Director of ‘Place’ for Barnsley, where we discussed how we might promote some of the ‘under-recognised’ enterprises which have developed in the Borough. I know that there are innovative businesses, doing exciting things about which few people are informed. We need to celebrate excellence and take pride in our industry. We are not good at blowing our own trumpets! I introduced the Director to some possible connections that I have made during my year. Along with the Local Authorities and the Chambers of Commerce, I am sure that more can be done to celebrate many of the good things in all our South Yorkshire towns. I believe that networking in the interest of law and order; cohesion and co-operation; peace and harmony, in our towns and communities is a key role of the High Sheriff.
This has been another busy month and already we are two thirds of the way through our year. Hardly a day goes by without a commitment and some weeks have seen us out every day and evening. This is probably due to the fact that the role is only for 1 year and every opportunity is taken, knowing it won’t return!
The month was marked with the Armistice commemorations and I attended a Cutlers Company of Hallamshire’s remembrance dinner prior to the Remembrance Weekend. We stood alongside many others, at the Cenotaph in Barnsley on November 11th and marked the moving moment of 100 years without war in our country. The public support, in spite of the cold, was outstanding. In the evening we took a group of friends to a Remembrance dinner, organised by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield and the Vulcan Rotary Club of Sheffield. Here we were reminded, through various presentations and singing, of Sheffield’s contributions to and experiences of the First World War.
We have made several court visits, in both Magistrates and County Courts. We were impressed by the commitment and dedication of Magistrates in Sheffield, Barnsley and Doncaster as well as concerned about the pressures created by a shortage of Magistrates across the county. There was some reassurance when we witnessed the swearing-in of 14 new Magistrates, at a welcome celebration, and learned that 40 more are to be recruited. These voluntary roles are the bedrock of our justice system and deserve our support. Our visits to the Crown Court were enhanced by the company of our Chaplain, and his wife; we were all informed and stimulated by the conversations we could hold with the Judges. Such conversations were with us for some time as we gained insight into the complexity and challenges of many cases and increased our admiration and support for the course of the law. We realize that Judges might feel isolated and alone in their roles and recognize the need for communal spaces and activities to build teams and vital support for each other. We have constantly asked ourselves, ‘who supports the judges?’ when they are exposed to some of the most detailed, challenging, troubling and distressing situations. Offering interest, conversation and hospitality, as well as spreading the message of the way they competently and compassionately manage the difficult work they must undertake,is something which the Shrievalty can do.
We had a wonderful day with graduands from University College Barnsley at two celebrations. We shared Volunteer Awards events in Rotherham and Sheffield, celebrating the enormous contributions made by individuals and voluntary organisations to making a difference in our towns and communities. We had several informal dinners with friends and spent a happy evening renewing friendships between my wife’s cousin, a Professor of Law in Sheffield and her judge husband. We visited the Yorkshire Air Ambulance based at Nostell Priory and were generously hosted by the Chair of Trustees and his wife. The work of this charity is amazing in saving lives in our county and beyond. We were able to sit in the helicopter and be hugely impressed by the sophisticated equipment, which enables doctors and health professionals to carry out road-side procedures prior to hospitalization.
The events, which probably impressed us most this month, were linked to our homelessness cause. We took part in a ‘Sleep-Out’ organised by our home-town branch of Centrepoint. As homelessness is our ‘theme’ for the year, it wasn’t difficult to say ‘yes’ to the invitation to sleep under one of the football stands at Barnsley Football Club along with over 100 others. We were reminded, through testimony and stories, of how it is easy to sterotype young people who are homeless. Listening to the story of one young man who had been in the care of the Local Authority, had completed his degree and wanting to build up his resources to prepare to train to be a teacher, it was clear that he had no obvious place to call ‘home’. Centrepoint Barnsley provides that place, until he is able to be completely independent. The most salutary moment for us was when we rolled up our sleeping bags and went out into the cold morning air; we were returning home, but where would a homeless person go? And where would they sleep the next night? These thoughts continue to exercise us.
The following week we were privileged to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visited Centrepoint, Barnsley on a chilly November morning; they received a truly warm Barnsley welcome. Their Royal Highnesses were gracious with their time, interested in our role and keen to engage in conversation. These Patrons are just the kind of advocates this cause needs and they clearly take their roles very seriously.
Finally, we were able to take an active part in a South Yorkshire Summit on Homelessness, organised by the Sheffield City Mayor and MP for Barnsley, Dan Jarvis. We heard presentations from politicians and leaders of some of the key charities in the region and engaged in enthusiastic and informed discussion on some of the pressing issues. We made links with more people and offered our services to advocate and support their work. This was a great networking opportunity and one which we hope will lead to an action plan to address and eliminate homelessness in South Yorkshire.
The month ended with an informal event for members of the judiciary, people from other legal services and friends and family at the Cooper Art Gallery in Barnsley. We were treated to a curated tour of the exhibition, Artists and Adventurers, celebrating the contribution of female artists to the diverse wealth of the Cooper Collection. We enjoyed a convivial supper in the gallery, surrounded by paintings and images marking the 100 years of some women’s suffrage. This was another wonderful opportunity, afforded to us by Barnsley MBC Arts, Culture and Heritage services. We are hugely indebted to them for their partnership and contributions to our year.
What an amazing year this is! Not only did we celebrate our Golden Wedding in August but,at the end of this month, my mother-in-law celebrated her 100th Birthday, in style, at our house, with all her children, grand-children and great-grand children around her. My year as High Sheriff is being enhanced and made even more memorable, with these amazing milestones.
The month began with a visit to St Luke’s Hospice in Sheffield; it seems as if there is a tradition of High Sheriffs visiting and being impressed by the work of this well-established, sensitively and caringly-run organisation. The additional day-centre facilities including creative and therapeutic activities enables St Lukes to offer wide-ranging support services to people with long–term conditions as well as to those who are nearing the end of life. We could see what makes the hospice such a special place.
The following day found us at the installation of the new Master Cutler, Nick Cragg, followed by a well-attended service at the Cathedral, which included some most appropriate readings and hymns. In the evening we hosted a Sheffield QC and his son at the wonderful performance of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights’ Dream,at the Crucible Theatre, thanks to the generosity of Sheffield Theatres. It was great to share the evening with a 14 year old, who is so passionate about Shakespeare!
The next day was marked by the Letters Patent ceremony at the Crown Court in Sheffield – an old custom, which is still practised in only a few courts across the country, to mark the start of the legal year. This enabled us to, not only, witness and take part in this ancient tradition but also to sit in court withthe presiding Judge His Honour Mr Justice Males and other Judges, to observe proceedings. This experience was greatly enhanced by the conversations with the judges about the way justice is carried out, including gaining insight into the complexities of assessing and making the most appropriate judgements.
It was a great privilege to be invited to the presentation of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, by the Lord Lieutenant,Mr Andrew Coombe,to Shiloh, the organisation which supports homeless people in Rotherham. As this is part of my ‘cause’ for the year, it was pleasing to see such public recognition for the wonderful work carried out by some paid and many volunteers in the town.
In the evening we attended a fascinating presentation and panel discussion at The University of Sheffield, on the future of Higher Education, led by Sir Michael Barber, of the Office for Students. We had a delightful supper after the event, where we shared conversations with University staff about the work of the university, including their own disciplines.
The North Eastern Circuit, Annual Legal Service was a grand occasion, which we were able to share with several friends, including my Chaplain and his wife. It took place in York Minster. It was the last service for 2 years to be accompanied by the Minster organ, which is now being cleaned and restored. The ceremonial dress of all members of the judiciary, along with mayors and clergy made a colourful procession as we walked through the streets in glorious sunshine to attend the traditional service which was full of relevance to the work of all the legal sector. We enjoyed lunch and conversations in the Assembly rooms, with friends and colleagues from the judiciary.
An easy Monday followed with only 1 meeting with a Sheffield Councillor to discuss homelessness issues in the city and explore working with the new mayor of the City Region, Dan Jarvis, on such issues. Another Citizenship Ceremony was held in Sheffield Town Hall, the following day and I was then invited to talk at a Rotary meeting about my role and work. Advocating about the work of the legal and associated professions as well as my charitable cause are vital aspects of my position. I spoke, similarly, at a Bishop’s Breakfast meeting in Barnsley, on the same day that I presented awards to a Cadet’s Association.
A fascinating morning was spent with S Yorkshire Police in Barnsley town centre where I both drove and walked around, with officers. I was impressed by their sensitive handling of relationships with the public, as well as their responses to obvious breaches of the law. I could see how well informed and aware they were of people in the community. I joined them again later in the month, on a Saturday night in Barnsley. This was a peaceful and law abiding night and showed me yet again how policing of a potentially volatile situation can be handled with care and sensitivity.A morning shift with the Town Centre Neighbourhood Team showed me the value of visible policing on our streets. The interaction with shoppers and traders makes everyone feel that their concerns have been listened to and their visits to the town can be made more comfortable. These outings gave me great insight into, and confidence in the high standards of policing in our town.
The next week started with a visit to Ben’s Centre in Sheffield, accompanied by an intern from the South Yorkshire Community Foundation, who has been gathering information to include in a ‘Survival and Treatment Guide’, for homeless people in South Yorkshire. The Centre is one of the few places, described as a ‘damp’ centre, where people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs can drop in for support, food, showers or to sleep. I continue to be humbled and amazed at the hard work and commitment that goes into supporting vulnerable, homeless people and rough sleepers, in our towns and city.
We were also able to spend 2 days in court this week, sitting with the judges and hearing trials which were either commencing or in session. These days give us insight into the justice systems and processes but also help us to see how members of the judiciary are less of ‘a breed apart’ than many people may think. We tend to regard Judges with a degree of awe and can consider them to be rather remote and far from in touch with the demands, challenges and vulnerabilities which many people experience. We have found that this is not the case at all. We have been warmly welcomed; patiently guided through the processes and systems and shared concerns about juggling family life, the demands of long hours of working and the often grueling evidence they must hear and see. We repeatedly ask questions about who supports the judges when they are going through particularly horrendous cases of violence, sexual abuse or murder. We also ask who could support jurors experiencing similar cases.
On a lighter note, we celebrated and supported the South Yorkshire Community Foundation at their annual reception. This year we weregraciously hosted by Barnsley College, and their catering students. We talked to stall holders, discussing the charitable causes they run in response to different societal challenges, including isolation and loneliness and mental ill-health amongst teenagers. During the evening the second, annual edition of Vital Signswas launched. This gives lots of detailed insight into the views of residents combinedwith local and national statistics and creates a picture of the state of S Yorkshire. The priorities for support are: deprivation; housing and homelessness; strong communities and healthy living. We are pleased that we are in sympathy with this report in trying to raise awareness of homelessness and poverty housing issues.
At the weekend we were invited to the Elsecar Food Festival, where on a glorious October day hundreds of people visited over 50 stalls of local foods and food suppliers. We tasted and bought our first sample of Barnsley Brew tea, and some delicious gin! The demonstration kitchen, as well as showcasing a celebrity chef also featured the skills of a local Polish restaurant and catering students from Barnsley College.
This was followed next day by a visit to GCHQ in Scarborough where a glimpse of the work undertaken by our security services was explained.
At the end of the week we entertained a group of people from some of the key charities related to homelessness in South Yorkshire, at a relaxed evening at Worsbrough Mill. We were shown around this working water mill by the new miller and then had a bistro supper in the Miller’s Tea Room. We used the opportunity to enable some networking and to ask our guests for their responses and suggestions for the Survival Guide which we collated and shared it with SYCF.
We ended the month with a family celebration and a great half term family holiday
Our short holiday ended at the beginning of this month and on our first day back in role we participated in a Royal Visit. The Princess Royal came to Doncaster to open the new, large and developing logistics centre at the new railhead, Doncaster Iport Rail, Intermodal Rail Freight Facility. This was a relaxed and informative occasion with the Princess asking pertinent questions and engaging in knowledgeable conversation with developers, Local Authority representatives, and employees. As Patron of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, it was clear that she was not only interested but also well informed.It was good, to not only meet Her Royal Highness, but also to talk with staff who have been involved in the development of the site along with some of those who will be working there.
The end of that week found us at an open day at one of the Sheffield Mosques. We took a group of people from our home-town to share in friendly, generous hospitality and talk with people from the Muslim community, take part in a guided tour of the Mosque and observe prayers. Some of these people had never been in a Mosque before and had little contact with Muslims; we felt this was a great opportunity to build understanding and relationships.
My good friend Gul Nawaz Hussain QC invited me to attend the awards evening of the Sheffield Sea Cadets. Gul’s son, Sal, is a Marine Cadet with the unit and greeted me with a serious smile, looking immaculate in his uniform.This unit meets twice a week, teaching and caring for 70 plus young people from the area. As well as awarding certificates and prizes I was able to learn of their adventures at various summer camps that had been attended at naval bases around the country.
The dedication of the adult instructors, officers and volunteer parents is invaluable to the strength and growth of the Sea Cadet movement in the City and already plans and dreams are being formulated to extend and adapt the premises that they occupy, to enhance the military and community learning which takes place.
We were invited, along with the Mayor and Mayoress of Barnsley, to visit a monthly Superjam Tea Party, organised in Barnsley by Rotary Clubs. This was set up to encourage and support isolated, older people to come together for tea, music and dancing. It is very popular with around 120 people taking part each month.
My visit to the CRC organization in Doncaster was highly informative, giving me a real insight into the work of this privatized arm of the Probation Service.
The rehabilitation of offenders is crucial if progress is to be made in rebuilding the lives of people who have broken the law and in reducing our unacceptable prison population.
The individual care package that is prepared for each client is testament to the desire of the CRC to do its utmost to reduce offending rates.
The Sheffield Festival of the Mind is a creative way of engaging people of the City and surrounding area with the research being conducted at The University of Sheffield. So often the academic institutions can appear remote and sometimes irrelevant to the lives of ‘ordinary ‘ people. This Festival sets out to offer over 40 free activities, events, performances and exhibitions, over 10 days, open to everyone, to celebrate ideas, culture and collaboration. We were delighted to be invited to the opening reception in The Spiegeltent, a beautiful circus-like tent erected in the city centre.
I also spent time with the CRC arm of Sodexo in Sheffield. As with Doncaster I was amazed at the depth of research and analysis that is carried out not just to help rehabilitate but to try to understand the root causes of offending and work towards eliminating some of those causes.
Of particular note is the work that is being done to try to reduce the prosecution and imprisonment of women. The effect on marriage, the home, and children is far greater when a woman, rather than a man, is imprisoned.
Some of the work is truly pioneering and many old systems and habits have to be challenged.
Additionally I was able to visit group of offenders who were participating in the ‘payback’ scheme where work in the community is undertaken as part of the sentence for the benefit of the whole the community. It happened to be a glorious sunny day so the outdoor work was made that much more pleasurable.
A formal event was held in Sheffield’s Cutlers Hall for the President of the Sheffield Chamber ofCommerce’s annual dinner; it was particularly pleasing that this year’s President is a friend who also lives in Barnsley! It was good to hear about the charitable activities of the Chamber as well as its work in promoting business and commerce opportunities, and, of course, to talk with new and old friends.
I visited Moorland Prison where a high proportion of the prisoners are sex offenders and was shocked to see so many old men. This puzzled me until it was explained that many of these cases were historic and justice was done some years after the offences. Conditions were good but the air of a ‘care home for the aged’ was always in my mind. On some wings the prisoners form small committees to manage their environment. Ideas are presented to the management and if approved walls can be painted and appropriate murals used to transform blank spaces.
I was asked by one prisoner if I would sign the wing prisoners visitor’s book.
It was a privilege to be invited to the formal appointment and welcome of the new Recorder of Sheffield by the Council of the City, at the Law Courts and to share in a reception. HH Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, is no stranger to Sheffield, as he spent some years in the City previously; the Lord Mayor, Councillor Majid Majid welcomed the appointment with a warm speech. HH Judge Jeremy Richardson QC responded with effusive thanks to the many people involved in making his transition from Hull to Sheffield so smooth and welcoming.
Swinton Service of Remembrance was conducted by the Bishop of Sheffield the Rev Dr Pete Wilcox in the beautiful village church in this former mining community. The service remembered Cpl Thomas Jackson of the 1stBnColdstream Guards who was awarded the VC 100 years ago to the day. He sadly died in combat shortly after his commendation.
Of particular poignancy was the reading out by local people of the names of over 200 men from Swinton who died in WW1. The devastation at the loss of so many from a small community is a thought that is hard to bear.
Wreaths were laid at the village war memorial following the service.
We ended the month with another dinner at home where we welcomed several judges, a QC, the Chair of the S Y Magistrates Bench and friends. These events are always interesting, informative and fun. We hope that in extending such hospitality we are also offering support and a sense of collegiality to the legal communities.
It’s hard to think that we are already considering the details of our South Yorkshire Legal Service in April 2019. We met with the Under Sheriff to confirm the booking of Doncaster Minster and the Mansion House as well as make contact with the caterers. This year is flying by.
August was a much quieter month than the previous 4, so I was able to take a couple of short breaks; one of these to mark our Golden Wedding! However, the work of the High Sheriff continued.
I was invited to share in the launch of the first Association of Muslim Police in South Yorkshire; this was a positive, and well attended eventand a great step forward in bringing together all the Muslim Officers and Staff.
The Association will, as well as offering support to its members, enable senior management to be able to tap into the rich pool of knowledge and community understanding which will be available.
Later in the month I visited Hatfield prison where I was extremely impressed by the well planned and organised approach to rehabilitating offenders by offering them opportunities to develop skills and productive independence. One of the highlights of the visit was their market gardening activities, where members of the public are able to purchase high quality home grown vegetables and some soft fruits, through a farm shop enterprise called Thyme Served! I was able to purchase a bag of their produce – much to the delight of the Sheriffina.
During the same week I was able visit the National Probation Service in Doncaster where I learned of the challenges and opportunities facing the service in our county.
The month ended with a visit, with my wife and the Under-Sheriff, to Shiloh, a project in Rotherham, which is working to offer a ‘wrap around’ service to homeless people and those living in hostels and poverty housing. Such organisations are central to my year. We spoke with staff and trustees as well as guests of the service, learning about how they address the immediate needs of people for warm showers and toiletries; regular, good quality food and clothing as well as begin to address loneliness, health issues and support through a buddying scheme, courses and a counseling approach. We offered networking information to link them with other services in our area including contacts with the Muslim Community in Rotherham, and possible funding opportunities. The role of the High Sheriff in helping such voluntary organisations to network with others, build their capacity and raise the profile of how they contribute vital work in our communities is one of the keys to its continuing impact.
I am looking forward to attending the ceremony where they will be presented, by the Lord Lieutenant, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. A very well deserved accolade.
One of the big events of the Shrieval year took place at the beginning of the month with our summer reception. We were very happy to combine this with a celebration of our Golden Wedding Anniversary and so the festivities included not only civic dignitaries, members of the judiciary and associated institutions and organisations but long-standing friends and many members of our family. Through the help and generosity of Barnsley Local Authority, Museums and Heritage Trust we were able to hold the event at the Elsecar Heritage Centre. Here our guests could explore the site with a guided tour of the industrial village; examine, under expert guidance, the workings of the Newcomen Engine (the oldest of its kind in its original situation in the world) and have a ride on a steam train, through the help of the Elsecar Heritage Railway. Glorious weather meant we could wander the site, meet with friends, or make new ones, and enjoy a good Yorkshire tea, as well as look at wedding photos from 50 years ago! However this was a party with a purpose and 20 charities and organisations, which are working to help people who are homeless or living in poverty housing, exhibited their services to raise awareness of the challenges homeless people face and some of the services they offer. I was able to use my welcome speech to highlight their work and add further impetus to my desire to help contribute to the elimination of this stain on our society. It was a fulfilling and happy occasion for us, and we were grateful for the support of around 200 people.
Other activities, linked to my Shrieval theme, included a visit to the inspirational Dearne Community Housing initiative. This small group of people has raised funds to renovate derelict houses and offer rental homes for vulnerable individuals and families. In the process, they offer young people NVQs in house restoration skills, training 165 people last year. They recently received recognition in the form of a Duke of York’s Community Award. It’s humbling to see what time, determination and hard work people are able to offer to those who experience hard times.
I had a meeting in Rotherham with the Rough Sleeper Initiative where the 4 S Yorkshire local authorities shared information on the services and initiatives they are developing; this is a regular meeting, which I was able to observe. I met a colleague from Centrepoint, who is planning a ‘sleep out’, in Barnsley, to raise funds and awareness of rough sleeping and homelessness. I am hopeful we can respond to their invitation to join in. I was also able to share Crisis celebrations to mark achievements of many people in overcoming diverse and difficult challenges. We heard many stories of triumph, including gaining certificates of accreditation and employment; another moving and inspiring occasion. I met Angela Smith, MP and discussed some of the homelessness, rough sleeping and housing issues in the county and the impact of policies and local practices.
We attended 2 graduation ceremonies at The University of Sheffield, including the graduation dinner, and were part of the inauguration of Dame Helena Kennedy as Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University. I was also invited to help present achievement awards to young people at BarnsleySpringwell Academy. Other celebrations included being generously hosted by the Great Yorkshire Show trustees, along with the High Sheriff of West Yorkshire. Yet another, was a Citizenship Ceremony in Barnsley where I was able to welcome a young friend from Zimbabwe to our town, county and country; a special day! We joined a service to mark the Huskar Disaster when 26 children died in a mining disaster in Silkstone, Barnsley, in 1838. The local community had organised many events and activities to remind people of the tragedy as well as recognize that child labour is still practised in some parts of the world.
On the ‘legal’ front, I was able to attend the Criminal Justice Board, at the invitation of the S Yorks Police and Crime Commissioner, to gain insight into the inter-disciplinary collaboration across the county. We hosted several judges, partners and friends at Cannon Hall where we were treated to a curated tour of their Dutch Masters exhibition, followed by supper in the Hall. We also hosted a judge and his family, to hear the inspirational Barnsley Youth Choir, ranked 4th in the world, sing with the Fellows of the National Youth Choir. Another memorable occasion in a busy month!
High Sheriff of South Yorkshire, Barry Eldred, with the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, Magid Magid at the Summer Reception.
High Sheriff with his wife Dr Janine Eldred at their Summer Reception at Elsecar Heritage Centre, Barnsley.
The work of a High Sheriff seems to embrace such a diversity of roles – which offers both challenges and opportunities. The challenges are around making decisions about which invitations and activities to accept, especially when there are diary clashes; the opportunities lie in the ability of a High Sheriff to network, influence and make a difference, especially in the Voluntary and Community Sector. This month has captured diversity in all its richness.
We attended the South Yorkshire Police Memorial at Sheffield Cathedral; an exceptionally moving experience, when we met the relatives of those who had lost their lives in the course of duty as well as those who died whilst in service. Another memorable Cathedral service was the funeral of Brendan Ingle, the Boxer who contributed such a lot to the lives of many young people in Sheffield. The huge number of mourners who wanted to pay tribute to this modest, hard-working but successful man demonstrated the impact he had, not just in our area, but across the UK and beyond. On the same day, we celebrated the Civic Service for the Mayor of Barnsley at the Parish Church of St Mary in Barnsley, where several local schools made moving and thoughtful contributions.
The Cathedral was also the venue for an audit of the work of churches and other faith organisations in Sheffield.
This gave us insight into the contribution which faith organisationsmake to the lives of many people; it would be great to see such data extended to the whole of our county. June was the month of Ramadan and we were invited to Iftar (breaking the fast) at the Madina Mosque in Sheffield; people of many faiths – and none- were taken on a guided tour of the mosque and shared the evening meal to mark the end of the day’s fasting. I was invited to speak to the diverse group of people, acknowledging that we have more in common than divides us by race, culture or faith.
A generous invitation from the University of Sheffield, to hear Helen Sharman, Britain’s first woman in space, talk about her career and work, was inspiring, informative, and fun and we were able to join her and other colleagues at dinner. It is a real privilege to receive such invitations, be stimulated and filled with awe. Another invitation came from Experience Barnsley where celebrations were held to mark the 5th birthday of this wonderful museum, in the heart of the Barnsley Town Hall; yet another was received from the Bradfield Festival. We attended the first night concert and were delighted that the choral group, Albion, marked its return at the Festival. This was a real treat, in the historic setting of St Nicholas Church, on a beautiful summer’s evening.
We invited members of the judiciary and associated organisations to dinner at home and enjoyed stimulating, interesting conversations as well as lovely food (prepared by a local French chef). We also hosted a local judge and his family to a buffet supper, prior to hearing the Barnsley Youth Choir (ranked 4th in the world) with members of the National Youth Choir Fellowship. We were all ‘blown away’ by their performances, demonstrated by several standing ovations.
I was able to conduct another Citizenship Ceremony in Sheffield and welcome more people to South Yorkshire as well as visit HMP Doncaster Marsh Gate and join MP Stephanie Peacock for a cup of coffee. I am keen to continue to search into the issues surrounding our growing problem of homelessness, rough sleeping and poverty housing and discussed this with staff in the prison as well as with the MP.
I visited five VCS organisations with an interest in homelessness and housing and joined Voluntary Action Rotherham on their ‘Walk of Witness’ through the town. It was yet another hot and sunny day but we were well watered and nourished with cake and the walk felt festive and fun. We were invited to wear sashes which declared ‘Get thi’ sen volunteering’.
This is not a bad mantra for a High Sheriff to share.
Time flies when you’re having fun! This adage certainly applies to this role; it is hard to believe that I am already into the third month of my year of office. May has been a busy month, in spite of two public holidays and honouring an annual commitment to the Sheffield Chamber Music 9 day Festival. We hosted members of the judiciary on four evenings of the Festival, to supper and concerts of world- class music which we are privileged to hear in South Yorkshire. I have held conversations with individuals, projects and programmes working to support homeless people, including: The Archer Project and Roundabout, Sheffield; The South Yorkshire Community Foundation; St Ledger homes Doncaster, Crisis, Shelter, and Nomad, all of whom embrace the idea of a resource offering information of support for homeless people. The discussion is whether this is in booklet form or as an app. We were able to support the national, Sheffield-based charity event for Support Dogs; the impact made by highly trained and sensitive dogs, to help people with diverse disabilities, is impressive.
In this season of mayor-making, I attended the election and celebration of the new Barnsley Mayor, Cllr Steve Green and joined the Procession and Civic Service to mark the election of the Rotherham Mayor, Cllr Alan Buckley. I met the new Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Magid Magid and civic dignitaries along with the Mayor of Doncaster at the Long Service and Good Conduct Awards Celebration, for Fire and Rescue staff, at the Sheffield City Hall. I joined the annual Cutlers Feast at the Cutlers Hall, marking the long tradition of the contribution of the steel industry to the city.
Jan and I were generously entertained by HH Judge James Goss at the Judges Lodgings, meeting the newly appointed Recorder for Sheffield Courts, HH Judge Jeremy Richardson QC,along with other Sheffield judges. I was able to sit with HH Judge Goss, in court, on two successive days. I found this experience very helpful in gaining an insight into the work, and challenges, of the judiciary, in very difficult cases. Staff were extremely welcoming and patient in explaining their roles and work; I will certainly take up the opportunity again. We hosted 8 guests at home towards the end of the month; we can certainly help people to link up around common interests and activities. I took part in the Court’s training week, by talking, in full court dress, with staff about the role of the High Sheriff; it was good to answer questions and tell stories about my activities as well as those of my predecessors.
We spent an interesting morning at Doncaster Magistrates Court, observing and listening to the regional finals of Mock Trials, for schools in Yorkshire. Volunteers from the Magistracy organise these competitions to help students understand how law courts operate but, more importantly, develop critical thinking, reasoning and the confidence to play the various roles involved in trials. We were impressed by the commitment of all the organisers, in schools and in the Magistracy, but also the young people involved; they will have developed key learning and life skills.
I met with other High Sheriffs and the Under Sheriff in York to plan the NE Legal Service in the autumn.
I officiated at another two Citizenship ceremonies; it is interesting to learn about the reasons people want to become British Citizens. For some, it is sealing a commitment to the country after living here for many years, whilst for others, it marks the end of a difficult journey of asylum-seeking and refugee status to create a new home and commit to a new citizenship. Such ceremonies are often very moving.
Jan and I were generously entertained at the Cast in Doncaster to mark the rebranding of the Under Sheriff’s law firm, now known as Keebles. After drinks and a light supper we thoroughly enjoyed a very provocative and humorously irreverent performance of A Mid-summer Night’s Dream.
The busy schedule of this role, can be demanding, in terms of planning and prioritising, but presents opportunities to support and advocate on behalf of public and voluntary organisations working to promote and sustain justice and peace in our communities.
My first month as High Sheriff of South Yorkshire has already passed, with a wide range of activities, reflecting the diversity of the role. My declaration was a happy occasion with family and friends including a warm welcome from Mr Justice Stephen Mayles, members of the judiciary, and support from my Chaplain Rev Peter Clark. I promised to carry out the role to the best of my ability and also to advocate for more effective services for people who are homeless. This theme arises, not only from the obvious increase in homelessness in our country but also from the voluntary work in which I have been involved for almost 16 years, with the international charity, Habitat for Humanity. I have already visited 15 organisations in our county this month, including the Probation Service, Crisis, Roundabout, The Police and Crime Commissioner, and the Chief Constable along with presenting certificates at a Citizenship Ceremony. I have received a warm and open welcome from everyone. The response, from all the organisations, to my idea to create a ‘Survival Guide’, for homeless people, has been very encouraging. I shall continue to consult with key homelessness organisations, as well as public services, over the coming weeks before deciding with them, on the usefulness of such a guide.
We hosted judges and friends to dinner towards the end of the month and have planned activities and events across the year. We have also been hosted by others, including the Lord Mayor of Sheffield, when we celebrated the appointment of Gul Nawaz Hussain as the first Asian QC from Sheffield, This was a great acknowledgement of a man, the son of an immigrant trade-unionist, who learned the importance of advocacy, working alongside his father in the steel industry.
We attended Sheffield Cathedral on the occasion of the visit by the Duke of York who presented The Duke of York Community Initiative certificates to Yorkshire Charities and organisations. This was an interesting and inspiring occasion, recognising the dedication and commitment of many voluntary and community groups and individuals from across Yorkshire.
My diary continues to fill daily and I am endeavouring to satisfy as many requests as possible, especially those that have a relationship with homelessness.