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November News

November was the busiest month of my year, the highlight being the glorious High Sheriff's Justice Service in St Albans Cathedral.

Week One was a very varied week!

The month began with a day in the Family Drug and Alcohol Court in High Wycombe, observing the effective way Family Court Judge Venables keeps children with their families, with intensive intervention tailored to the needs of each parent. They are given support with fortnightly reviews in court to come off drugs and alcohol and avoid their children being brought up in care.

The charity sector has always been important to me, and my role in the Fighting Breast Cancer Committee for over 30 years has helped raise over £0.5m for breast cancer research and treatment. A buzzing Bridge Drive in the Woolmer Green Village Hall raised over £4,000 for the Herts Breast Unit Appeal at the QEII Hospital.

Next, I was honoured to be part of the tree planting party on the Hatfield House estate, as part of Her Late Majesty’s Green Canopy project. HRH the Duke of Kent planted the first of 2,500 trees, and asked if he could return to plant the last one!

Straight on to London for the High Sheriffs’ Association AGM at Fishmongers’ Hall, with a thoughtful speech by Lord Sumption over lunch and an opportunity to catch up with fellow High Sheriffs.

Then another meeting with Sunset Studios Senior Vice President Erik Thoreen after his presentation of their film studios project to Herts Chamber of Commerce. The company is hugely philanthropic in the US and we discussed how the local community, charities and businesses can benefit from Hollywood coming to Hertfordshire.

The week ended with laying a wreath at the Service of Remembrance at the Liberator memorial in Cheshunt, held by the Hertfordshire Lodge of the Legion. In 1944 the town was saved from catastrophe by Lt. John Ellis who steered his crashing American Liberator aircraft away from Cheshunt.

Week Two

A day in the Family Court in Hertford involved meeting more dedicated Judges, Magistrates and court staff, touring the magnificent Shire Hall with its Assembly Room, grand paintings on the courtroom walls and a (happily) short visit to the cells with Stevenage Bench Chair Karen Trew DL. There was even time for a presentation on the work of CAFCASS, who put children and young people first in the family courts.

Back to Stevenage for the Anne Robson Trust launch of their new community hub in the Old Town. Springfield House is a safe space for people to access support if they or someone close to them is dying.

The Hertfordshire Community Foundation has huge impact in Hertfordshire. A presentation at their annual reception updated us on the £4m of grants awarded last year, many supported by Herts County Council, with speeches of thanks from charities that benefitted and acknowledgements of generous donors and dedicated staff.

Next, a meeting with the Chief Crown Prosecuter Jaswant Narwal and her team in St Albans. Their innovative and creative technology is well ahead of others, but the challenge is to maintain strong partnership working within the criminal justice system to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

The University of Hertfordshire’s Chancellor’s Lecture this year was given by Lord Khakkar on the subject of “Healthcare, Life Sciences and National Prosperity”. Analysis of the NHS since it began, its role in society today and the way forward, led to thought-provoking debate on the discordance between political, public, patient and professional expectation.

The Remembrance Service and wreath laying in the Memorial Garden at Herts Constabulary HQ was a time to reflect and remember members of the Hertfordshire Police family who lost their lives serving their country. I was honoured to be photographed with the Force Chaplains, Chief Constable Charlie Hall and Vice Lord-Lieutenant Ant Chapman.

Whilst at Police HQ, it was an excellent opportunity to meet the police handlers and their wonderful dogs!

Tom Parkins is an East Herts farmer who found a way to link fire engine hoses to farm hoses during the dangerously hot summer, saving lives, livestock and crops. He justly deserved the High Sheriff’s Certificate presented to him before the Chief Fire Officer, Buntingford Mayor, fire crews, police and family. We are proud of you Tom!

150 supporters of Herts Young Homeless, the Living Room, Emmaus, Open Door and Centre 33 slept out overnight at Oaklands College in St Albans, raising money and awareness for the plight of the homeless. Beds of cardboard, live music and true community spirit in abundance!

The final two events of this week were for me to represent the Hertfordshire Lieutenancy in my role as a Deputy Lieutenant (and High Sheriff) at the Stevenage Remembrance Service and Parade, followed by a small but moving service led by my Chaplain, Rev John Chitham, at St Catherine’s Church, Sacombe.

Week Three

In my first week as High Sheriff, I visited a women’s refuge in Stevenage run by Survivors Against Domestic Abuse (SADA). The walls were bare, so thanks to Sarah Pateman and her team, schoolchildren from across the county produced paintings for the High Sheriff and panel to judge. The winning ones will be framed and hung in the refuge to brighten the lives of those in need.

There were a huge number of applications this year for the High Sheriff’s Awards, to be presented at a ceremony in March. Thank you to my panel who considered them all carefully and conscientiously.

HACRO and Emmaus volunteers and supporters crammed into the cells in St Albans Museum + Gallery where I opened an exhibition of paintings depicting historical crimes. These talented ex-offender artists really engaged with the severity of crime and sentencing in the past.

Christmas at the Manor is a regular feature of the Isabel Hospice year, thanks to Barbara Doherty and her marvellous team.

An afternoon/evening shift with East Herts police response team began with tracking and arresting a missing person, but ended with disturbing burglars who got away in a waiting getaway car after a chase on foot.

The Bunker at Hatfield Police station was opened this week and is a gem to visit. It showcases the relationship with the de Havilland aircraft site and historical policing and is an excellent community project for the public and schools.

Meeting Charlotte and the team at Stevenage Citizens’ Advice was invaluable; the extent and amount of their work is hard to believe.

A visit to the St Albans Magistrates’ Court included observing remand proceedings, inspecting the extensive cells and meeting the hard-working magistrates. Dee from Change Grow Live explained her drug and alcohol work in the courts, setting up recovery plans and supporting offenders to beat their addictions.

The week ended with the High Sheriff’s Justice Service (more photos later) in St Albans Cathedral.

Week Four

Max Hill, Director of Public Prosecutions, was born in Hatfield, so a lecture to the law students at the University of Hertfordshire about a career in the Crown Prosecution Service was very apt.

We are very fortunate to have an Archbishop in our county. A visit by the Hertfordshire Lieutenancy to the magnificent Coptic Cathedral in Stevenage involved a lively review by Archbishop Angaelos of the theological history and the role of the Coptic religion today.

I always enjoy meeting up with my police cadets, this time at a training session in Hertford, where I took to the stage to explain the role of the High Sheriff.

A wonderful tour of West Herts began in the Peace Garden in Watford’s Cassiobury Park, then on to Amanartis, a fascinating art exhibition in The Chapel in the Vicarage Road Cemetery. I then met Elvis and friends at the Electric Umbrella Emporium in Hemel Hempstead, seeing first hand how music helps those with disabilities to shake off the challenges of their daily lives.

The Family and County Courts have moved to new premises in Watford and it was a pleasure to observe the conscientious judges and hard-working court staff.

Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline take over 2,400 calls a year. It was an honour to join their celebration of 20 years of vital help, when they were also presented with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service by Lord-Lieutenant Robert Voss.

The week ended at Micklefield Hall, where the fabulous Electric Umbrella members showed off their musical talent and also received a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. One of the last of such Awards granted by our Late Queen Elizabeth II in the 71st year of her reign.

November draws to a close

Domestic Abuse charity Future Living in Hertford has launched the White Ribbon Project to stop violence against women and girls. Their bakery opens in March so do drop in!

Gordon Morrison, President of the Stort Valley Rotary Club, updated us on his Helping Herts campaign at their annual dinner, and I was delighted to present Lyn Moore of Homestart Herts with an Award for her unstinting volunteering over very many years.

Then a visit to an Emerging Futures recovery house in Broxbourne, where recovering addicts are given the strength to regain their lives.

Still on the topic of addictions, I attended a hard-hitting inaugural lecture by Professor Ornella Corazza, professor of Addiction Science at the University of Hertfordshire, who is working on developing new strategies for dealing with the alarming increase of drugs, particularly on the Net and Darknet.

November drew to a close with an afternoon talk at the Stevenage Renaissance Club, outlining the role of High Sheriff and my experiences over the last eight months. Needless to say, there was a lot to tell them!


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