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October News

Needless to say, October continues to be busy, revealing yet more incredible organisations, people, stories and achievements in Hertfordshire.

Week One

Having met Lt Col Miranda Mills to celebrate adult volunteers at the Bassingbourn Barracks in June, my October began with her introducing me to CVQO (Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation). Open to all uniformed cadets, the charity helps young people, especially those disengaged from mainstream education, to change their lives and aspire to new heights.

Lady High Sheriffs past, present and future gather in London each year to support one another and learn how best to serve their counties. Fun fact: 2022 is the first time there are equal numbers of men and women High Sheriffs since the role began over 1,000 years ago!

A meeting with Lynn Drummond, Chair of Governors at the University of Hertfordshire, revealed a diverse and developing institution, passionate about the welfare of their students and staff, and making real world impact through their research.

Long service and good conduct medals were presented to Herts Fire & Rescue heroes at the Joint Emergency Services Academy in Stevenage by Chief Fire Officer Alex Woodman. Recognising their dedication and achievements within the community is so important.

Another fascinating day in St Albans Crown Court with new Resident Judge Lana Wood, with cases ranging from drug rehabilitation, sexual assault, death by dangerous driving and indecent images.

Hand on Heart in Watford was started by inspiring Afzal and Asifa in their living room, and now deliver 10,000 survival packs per year to the homeless. Families come together to pack rucksacks, learning to volunteer in a fun and friendly environment with enthusiastic support from the amazing team.

Week One ended with a wonderful visit to Chelmsford Cathedral for Essex High Sheriff Nick Alston’s Justice Service, a treat of glorious music and words. I was delighted to meet up with his Lord-Lieutenant, the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Judges, Civics, his police cadets and the volunteers he champions.

Week Two

World Mental Health Day was an opportunity to give huge thanks to all individuals and organisations who work so hard in this field supporting Hertfordshire and its residents in these challenging times.

Lord-Lieutenant Robert Voss presented British Empire Medals at County Hall, where I was delighted to join Chief Fire Officer Alex Woodman and his team to celebrate Darren McLatchey, lately Station Commander in Stevenage, for his vital work during the pandemic.

A talk by St John Ambulance County President Debbie Taverner and Vice-President Brian Wingate explained their crucial work in administering and training in First Aid, and included a quick tour of the St John history from Jerusalem, through Greece and Malta to Clerkenwell, outlining their dedicated help for those in need across the centuries.

The Anne Robson Trust in Stevenage support people in their last year of life, helping them, and their families, to talk and prepare. The inspiring Liz Pryor was awarded an MBE this year for her compassionate project to provide this support service in hospitals throughout the country.

Hollywood is coming to Hertfordshire! Herts Chamber of Commerce hosted their Diamond Lunch with Sunset Studios Senior Vice-President and team there to describe the new film studios being built in Waltham Cross.

The Isabel Hospice reception in Castle Hall in Hertford was an opportunity to hear Lee’s poignant story and to learn about the Hospice’s reach in the local community.

The end of Week Two was another Justice Service, this time in Ely Cathedral for the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, Jennifer Crompton. Her theme of celebrating and reinforcing the importance of maintaining law and order and the fair administration of justice is one all High Sheriffs share.

October is Black History Month

Herts Constabulary HQ was the venue for a Black History Month seminar run by HBAPA (Herts Black and Asian Police Association) where many serious issues were aired. Bafta winner “G” with his film “The Black Cop” about his service in the Met had powerful impact with the question “Why did I have to leave the police to be heard?”

Herts Police also addressed Hate Crime issues with a conference in the Fielder Centre in Hatfield. Discussions included strategy, personal stories, the approach taken by the Crown Prosecution Service and hate crime in Watford football. Hate crime is unacceptable and victims should not feel on their own when there are many support services in the county there to help.

Week Three

The East & North Herts Hospitals Charity at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage enhances the lives of patients, having recently created a welcome space for families and children in the new Neonatal Unit Family Room. The current Sunshine Appeal is to convert an unused outside space into a restaurant terrace for all. The Butterfly Volunteer Service also work at the Lister Hospital, supporting dying patients, their families and friends at the end of life, with compassionate listening, comfort and companionship.

The St Albans Police Cadets meet in Harpenden Fire Station for exercises and training, but this Tuesday they learnt about the role of the High Sheriff before serving at my Justice Service in the Cathedral on 20th November. They appreciated sight of my sword and the chocolates!

Postponed from September, 999 Emergency Services Day at County Hall was a moment to acknowledge and respect how much these heroes do to keep us safe. Police, Fire, Ambulance, Air Ambulance and Boat Rescue were all there as the flag was raised and the cake cut to salute them. Thanking them on behalf of Hertfordshire was an honour.

Jackie’s Drop-In provides a safe space in Letchworth for adults with disabilities, preventing social isolation in a caring and welcoming environment. Jackie, her family and team of volunteers are making a huge difference to the vulnerable in Hertfordshire.

We have a gem in Hitchin! The British Schools Museum has the last surviving Georgian Monitoring Schoolroom in the world, an education system whereby the teacher taught the top few pupils one day, who then taught the pupils below them, who taught the pupils below them, and so on. The poor got an education as only one teacher needed to be paid. Visit them to experience schooling disciplines long gone. Using a quill pen and ink involves a lot of concentration, so hard not to smudge!

Still Week Three…

The Chief Constable’s Annual Awards Ceremony celebrates the achievements of those going above and beyond to keep Hertfordshire safe. Amazing stories of dedication, resourcefulness and bravery, with awards presented by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, the Chief Constable and his senior officers, the High Sheriff and the Police and Crime Commissioner. Many congratulations to all winners and nominees – and it is always nice to see my police cadet, this time with his Dad.

Off to Watford to Small Acts of Kindness who provide Warm in Winter gift bags for those in need. Lynne’s vision and determination to make a difference is awe-inspiring and more vital than ever. A happy coincidence to have chosen the same day as the Lord-Lieutenant and his wife!

“Universities in the cross hairs” was the subject of the Vice-Chancellor’s lecture at the University of Hertfordshire. Introduced by Chancellor Lord Salisbury, Professor Quintin McKellar explored and analysed the debate surrounding further education in the UK.

This was somewhat aptly followed by a visit to Waltham Abbey Church for Hertford Regional College’s Higher Education Graduation Ceremony, which celebrated the significant achievements of their students and the dedication of their staff. Equipped with Foundation Degrees, Higher National Diplomas and vocational qualifications, these young people can go on to fulfil their potential in Hertfordshire and beyond.

Week Four

The Scout HQ in Poplars, Stevenage, is tucked away behind Sainsburys, but what a gem for a Civic Reception! Mayor Margaret Notley entertained us to tea, music and magic, with talks from her three charities, the Anne Robson Trust, Stevenage Scouts and Stevenage Rotary.

Another charity, the British Red Cross, held their wonderful Gift Fair at Fanhams Hall near Ware, full of exciting stalls and tempting gifts, all for a great cause.

My year has been full of highlights, but to spend the afternoon at the Joint Emergency Services Academy in Stevenage seeing how the Fire Service cadets are trained was incredible. Rising 40 metres in the air on their lifting platform, watching the cadets deal with a simulated serious road traffic accident, then standing close to a burning building to watch how quickly a fire can start and get out of control, was completely awesome. This is all in a day’s work for these heroes! A taste of the emergency control room and the Incident Command Virtual Reality experience was all part of of the visit.

A complete contrast was a morning in St Albans to learn about the work of Rennie Grove and Peace Hospice following their merger. They provide a far-reaching safe space for those in need of palliative care. The newly refurbished Grove House Wellbeing Centre offers holistic care and support, activities and a community, thanks to the clinical and nursing staff and army of volunteers. They encourage patients to approach them early as there is so much help they can give from the very start.

St Albans featured again that same day, with its transformation by a stunning light show by talented artist Peter Walker, titled "Science/Lighting up our Universe”. A fascinating way to combine faith and science.

The Hertfordshire County Council is not always recognised for quite how much they do for the Hertfordshire voluntary sector and community. Leader Richard Roberts is determined to help residents during the current economic crisis, and to maintain links with their key partnerships to work together to support those in need. My discussion with him on my focus on addiction to drugs and alcohol revealed how many projects the County Council already funds and supports.

The month ended with the tremendous Pride of Stevenage Awards at the Gordon Craig Theatre, hosted by Mayor Margaret Notley. Celebrating local heroes and the great things they do for Stevenage and its communities, it is a wonderful way to recognise such incredible people. Then, lastly, the Borough of Broxbourne Civic Service given by Mayor Paul Seeby, brought this hectic month to a close.


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