I started the month by having the great privilege of handing out certificates to new citizens at a Citizenship ceremony at the Old Courthouse in Hatfield. There were about 20 new citizens, plus their families and friends who had come to support, and they have all chosen to make the UK their home after starting their lives in countries all around the world including Germany, Austria, Poland, Bulgaria, Yemen, India, USA, Brazil and more. My Chaplain Caroline came too.
Memorial events this month included the Liberator Memorial Event, in the driving rain and wind, remembering the brave US airmen who gave their lives so that a local community could be spared. I met the daughter of the only civilian casualty that night – her mother had been injured as she watched the plane come down and she had spent her life crippled – and the family come every year to remember the young Liberator crew who brought the plane down on the edge of Cheshunt, avoiding houses but sacrificing themselves.
I spent Remembrance Sunday in Hertford as the guest of Mayor Rosemary Bolton. Beautiful sunshine, large crowds, huge parade, and a moving service at the Memorial followed by a church service with a great sermon on ‘peace, shalom, salaam’. The following day, I attended a moving ceremony and service at Police HQ, with the Lord-Lieutenant, remembering those officers and staff who had died too.
Visits to charities have continued at Grove Cottage, the home of MENCAP in Bishop’s Stortford, to learn about their provision for those with learning difficulties of all ages. I visited the special needs nursery where dedicated staff look after children with complex conditions. They plan a new building project soon to improve facilities and make their space more flexible. Later in the month I visited Keech Hospice near Luton, who provide hospice services to children and adults in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes. They are one of only a few hospices providing services for both adults and children and are fundraising to expand their children’s services in Herts with the ‘Braveherts’ appeal.
I was lucky to join a fascinating visit to OPRO to see them receive their Queens Award for Enterprise: Innovation from the Lord-Lieutenant. OPRO make mouth guards and new technology in 3D printing with tiny layers of electronics in between will enable the mouthguards to relay real time information about head injuries. I also had a great evening at the Herts Sports Partnership Awards celebrating those that inspire, motivate and change lives through sport in Herts., where I helped present the Chairman’s Awards. We also had the first meeting of my panel for the 2020 High Sheriff’s Awards and had a difficult job creating a short list from the many good applications.
At the University of Hertfordshire, I attended the Chancellor’s lecture with a reception before hosted by Lord Salisbury. Lord (Jonathan) Hill gave an excellent talk entitled ‘Why our political system has become infantilised, how we might grow up and how universities can help’. I have also had a meeting this month to talk further about collaboration between the University Law Faculty and HMP The Mount.
Hertfordshire Independent Living Services are a fabulous, exemplar, not for profit service doing so much more than delivering food. I was pleased to spend a few hours learning about the huge logistics of the meals on wheels service and helping to deliver the meals with driver Janet.
The DL Interfaith panel, of which I am a member this year, received a warm welcome at the Watford Gurdwara where we learnt more about the Sikh faith. The Interfaith panel also had a joint meeting with the Social Responsibility Panel to talk about hate crime, amongst other subjects. I also gave a presentation at the Community Liaison Group on ethnic minority and faith groups in Herts and their experiences of integration.
One of the few remaining powers of a High Sheriff is to act as Returning Officer in a General Election and with the December General Election in sight, Richard Taylor the Under Sheriff and I met with the Electoral Services team in the constituency where I will declare the result. It was most interesting to learn about the processes and work to be done in ensuring a fair vote and count.
The end of the month saw the start of the festive season with the Isabel Hospice Lights of Love Christmas tree blessing in Buntingford, where we sang carols and joined in supportive remembering of lost loved ones as the lights were turned on.