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Autumn visits in October

October appointments have included visits to charities, to courts of different sorts, Awards ceremonies and Justice Services.

I started the month with a visit to Purcell School of Music, whose brass players will perform at my Justice Service. We are lucky to have this amazing school in Hertfordshire, where entry is based on musical ability and potential and students come from all over the world to attend. Nicky and I were treated to an amazing lunch time concert. I learnt about education of a different sort at St Albans Cathedral at a reception for the Education Trust, and explored the new learning spaces. It was fascinating to see the illumination of the medieval wall paintings.

At the High Sheriff’s Association Ladies’ Lunch I heard the Lord-Lieutenant of Bristol, Peaches Golding, talk about her role and being the first black female Lord-Lieutenant. I also gave my own lunch for Kate and Dawn (wives of the next High Sheriffs Henry and Lionel) with wives of past High Sheriffs Kate McMullen, Susie Stefanou and Kate Hobhouse to talk informally about the shrieval year.

Work is underway with HCF for my Awards (held in March) and applications have closed at the end of this month. I am excited to be reviewing the applications with the panel and celebrating the excellent work in the county by charities and voluntary groups. I also worked with HCF to host a seminar on Philanthropy for professionals in Herts. Speakers included a representative from the Charity Commission, Penny Carey (Dean of the Law Faculty at the University) talking about the new Law Clinics, a private client partner from Taylor Walton and Helen Gray. There was good feedback and hopefully more now know about the expertise HCF have on local philanthropy. We were generously hosted by the University and the President of the Hertfordshire Law Society helped with the invitations.

At the wonderful Mudlarks Garden those with learning disabilities and mental health problems grow flowers, fruit and veg and some work in the café on Hertford too, using the produce.

I visited The Living Room in Stevenage and was able to meet clients at the end of a session who shared their stories as they work to break the cycle of addiction. They support each other as well as receiving counselling and practical assistance and there is a shop (where some go on to volunteer) and creche, and support for families and carers too. Amazing work is done here.

My chaplain Caroline and I went to lunch with the HAWA Tiffin Club and we all packed hot drinks packs for Small Acts of Kindness afterwards. The wonderful HAWA ladies support their elderly with language classes and practical assistance, and they have set up a Hub now too. It was great to see 2 charities cooperating together.

At the Redbourn Care AGM I was pleased to meet many volunteers who were receiving long service certificates and I spoke about my year in office. This charity works at the heart of the community and helps with coffee mornings, good neighbour schemes and transport.

I was delighted to take part in a dementia friendly singing group run by Herts Musical Memories. Many found they knew the tunes and even the words. There were good warm up exercises too and the lovely facilitator Tasha made this an hour of joy for those living with dementia and their carers.

On a wet and miserable Saturday night I went out with amazing volunteers from Action for Homeless to help give out food (donated tonight by Café Rouge), make coffee and give clothes to homeless people in St Albans. They work every weekend, starting at 8pm to help men and women who know they will not get a place in a shelter that night. These volunteers are supported by others who cook and help collect clothes, and they give their time to help others, offer support and encouragement and treat these homeless people as they would their friends with respect and humanity.

I have visited wonderful cathedrals and churches for the Cambridgeshire (Peterborough Cathedral), Norfolk (Norwich Cathedral) and Northamptonshire (Rothwell church) Justice Services and met interesting judges and others who work to enforce law and order and ensure justice. I was also invited to St Margaret’s, Westminster Abbey, for a service for the Coptic New Year Feast of Nayrouz, at the invitation of Archbishop Angaelos. This was a very atmospheric and beautiful service with many distinguished guests, and moving addresses and messages with a strong theme of unity and love.

Mayor Rabbi Alan Plancey warmly welcomed many to his Civic Service at the Synagogue in Borehamwood. We heard beautiful and passionate singing and music and an address about the celebration of diversity and difference – unity not uniformity. The Mayor treated us to a magnificent tea afterwards and many spoke of his influence locally in spreading these messages.

I had spent that morning at the Borehamwood and Elstree Diversity Festival, where I watched a music show and met artists and members of different local communities. We had a wonderful lunch brought by everyone with dishes from many different countries and this was another event that really brought people from different communities together, very well organised by Martine and Victor Eni.

I hosted a lunch at St Albans Crown court and welcomed guests all working on victim support to meet with the judges. They represented Stefanou Foundation, Road Victims Trust, Safer Places, Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Beacon and Hertfordshire Constabulary. Mr Justice Turner was working in St Albans and was a last-minute guest too. At the end of the afternoon I presented a court award to a member of the public James Emery, nominated by HH Judge Kay, who had showed great bravery in trying to save a life.

In the Magistrates Court in St Albans I sat with Judge Margaret Dodd, a District Judge, and was also invited to the West and Central Herts Magistrates Bench meeting where the Lord-Lieutenant presented long service awards and we heard an interesting speech from new Dep Governor of HMP The Mount on the new community sentencing options.

In Watford I spent the day with Judge Byrne and the Employment Tribunal Judges, sitting in on an interesting case on unfair dismissal. Judge Byrne is the Regional Employment Judge for the S E Region, and all the cases for the whole region are organised and allocated from Watford and cover a large geographical area. There are 18 salaried judges and 30 fee paid judges, with 8 of the judges being based in Watford.

My final court visit was to the Royal Courts of Justice at the invitation of Mr Justice Turner where I sat in the Court of Appeal before Lady Justice Simler, Mr Justice Goose and HH Judge Sloan GC Recorder of Newcastle and heard 4 appeals against sentence.

Work with the police has included a meeting with Insp. Sarah Corr to learn about the work of the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (DAISU). I met some of her team too and learnt that this is the largest investigation unit in the Hertfordshire Constabulary. I was honoured to help present awards at the Chief Constable’s annual awards ceremony, celebrating excellent work by officers and staff. I was also delighted to be invited to the annual Police Chaplaincy conference, where we heard presentations from different areas of policing and the chaplains considered how they could best offer support as staff face increasing pressures and demands.

I have been lucky to be invited to open 2 events - the Welwyn Hatfield Careers Fair for year 11 students, organised with Roche and LEP to introduce 30 local employers to students, and the new Skills and Learning Hub of CVSBEH which is a great community-based service (with excellent partners) accessible to all in Hertford.

I was pleased to meet with Nick Denham, Head of Hertfordshire Music Services, and Liz Gore to talk about Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020. This will be an exciting initiative to support and promote.

Other events have included attending the Vice Chancellor’s Lecture at the University, attending a ceremony to see 4 recipients from Hertfordshire receive British Empire Medals from the Lord-Lieutenant, and a wonderful day out in Three Rivers with Chair Paula Hiscocks.

The month ended on Halloween night with a dinner for Mr Justice Andrew Baker, sitting in St Albans Crown Court. His wife Philippa came too, along with other guests.

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