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Farewell from Liz

The final couple of weeks as High Sheriff continued to be busy with a very varied range of activities as summarised below:

Civic – High Sheriff of Northamptonshire’s tea party and thank you.  I joined the Mayor of Dacorum on part of his fundraising walk, which began at Ashridge House and ended with a walk along the canal for a pub lunch in Marsworth. In the evening we joined him for a tour of Tring Brewery.  Peter and I attended Civic Services in Broxbourne and East Herts and Civic Awards celebrations in Hertford and Hertsmere. 

Charity – I spoke at the Watford Rotary Dinner about the High Sheriff role, my year and theme, and the library tour.

Honours – Moor Park was a special venue for those who had received Honours, and two individuals were presented with their BEM Award by the Lord-Lieutenant who hosted the event.

Courts – my Under Sheriff and I joined the Resident Judge at St Albans Crown Court for the afternoon before I presented a Court Award to a very deserving individual.  The awards are not handed out that often and it was lovely to meet him and his friends and to thank him for his bravery.  I spent a morning at St Albans Magistrates’ Court listening to a number of different cases and it was good to meet those who work in the courts. 

Police & Crime Commissioner – a farewell drinks and valedictory was held for David Lloyd who is retiring after serving for 12 years. 

Probation – I joined a focus group at Stevenage probation to speak about my theme of literacy, and the pilot that is taking place across Hertfordshire for one year with Herts probation.

Handover – everyone says that the year flies by and that is true.  Annie Brewster JP took over from me during the Evensong service at St Albans Cathedral on the 17th April.  Having served as Mayor of St Albans and Chairman of the County Council Annie knows Hertfordshire well and I wish her a happy and successful year.

Summary – I’m often asked for my highlight, and I can’t pick one single item, although the Justice Service was very special.  The opportunity to learn and champion those who work in the criminal justice system, and to talk to them about the positive and negative aspects of their jobs was very much appreciated.  Linking with faith leaders, charities, our armed forces and emergency services increased my knowledge and awareness, and with so many troubles across the world the initiatives by faith leaders are vital.  Despite a lot of negative media there is so much positive and important work taking place across our county.  My library tour and focus on literacy highlighted how important libraries are, offering so much more than books, and they proved to me time and again how creative they were in terms of activities for all ages, the opportunity to volunteer both in the library and delivering books to those who are not mobile, PCSO’s and Councillors dropping in, and being able to signpost vulnerable individuals for help.  Libraries are described as a ‘warm, safe, non-judgemental space’ and Peter’s summary of libraries as ‘we also lend books’ is so true.

Going forward Shannon Trust are beginning a one-year pilot with Herts probation to improve literacy for those on probation, and I’m talking with a few charities about improving literacy for some of their clients.  There is much to do and with low literacy having a big impact on an individual it’s something I will continue to champion to see how we can reach vulnerable people – it could make such a difference.

My final thanks are to the following people who have helped me significantly during my year in office:

Nicky Stokes – PA.  Nicky kept my diary, arranged visits and organised my key events, including my Declaration Service, Garden Party, Justice Service and Awards Ceremony.  Nicky’s help enabled me to spend time visiting more charities and groups than I would have managed without her help.

Richard Taylor – my Under Sheriff.  Richard ensured I was well briefed before taking office and is involved in all the protocol that comes with the role of High Sheriff.  Richard was also closely involved with my Declaration Service and Justice Service, and he spent considerable time sourcing a sword, which is now available for future Hertfordshire High Sheriffs’ to use should they wish to do so.

Police Cadets – Gene, Leah and Tiffanni represented Herts police cadets with confidence.  They alternated being Sword Bearer and accompanied me on a number of occasions.  Gene and Leah read prayers at the Justice Service at St Albans Cathedral, and they were all involved in the Awards Ceremony. 

Rev Jeremy Moodey – Chaplain.  Jeremy accompanied me on visits to HMP The Mount and to the Coptic Church in Stevenage, and he was instrumental in the Declaration Service and Justice Service, not only on delivering an excellent sermon but in guiding me in the choice of hymns and music.

I would like to thank the Lord-Lieutenant and Past High Sheriffs for their guidance throughout the year – it has been very much appreciated.


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