The sad passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
September 2022 will always be remembered for the death of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at Balmoral on Thursday 8th September. May she rest in peace after a long and wonderful reign, dedicated to her people. Forever remembered and forever loved.
The Proclamation of the Accession of King Charles III
It falls to the High Sheriff of every county to read out the Proclamation in the presence of the Lord-Lieutenant and local civic leaders, who then take the Proclamation out to their own Districts and Boroughs. It was an honour to make the Proclamation in County Hall in Hertford before joining the Mayor of Stevenage for it to be repeated.
The Mourning Period
Books of Condolence were signed across Hertfordshire and online through the Lieutenancy website. There was not a spare seat in St Albans Cathedral for a truly beautiful Service of Commemoration and Thanksgiving, and we witnessed an amazing piece of history as Her Late Majesty was laid to rest in St George’s Chapel.
God Save the King.
Here is the rest of my September news:
September began with another visit to the Stevenage Magistrates’ Court, this time for the Youth Court and Youth Services. Another shout out for the Security team who work tirelessly to keep the court system running smoothly, as well as the Magistrates in the Remand and Road Policing Courts also sitting that day.
It was an honour to meet HRH the Duke of Gloucester again when he presented a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (these Awards in future will be known as King’s Awards) to the wonderful team at the de Havilland Aircraft Museum.
GCL Spectrum Drug and Alcohol Recovery Services in Hertfordshire play a crucial role, offering advice, guidance and support to addicts during their recovery, help those who are homeless, and work with police, councils, charities and schools. They are closely linked with Emerging Futures, offering housing and practical advice to those made homeless by their addiction to drugs and alcohol.
High Sheriff’s Garden Party
These Garden Parties were always a regular highlight of the High Sheriff year before the pandemic. Warmly welcomed to Knebworth House by Henry and Martha Cobbold, I was joined by the Lord-Lieutenant and many distinguished guests and charities who enjoyed the late summer sunshine and the opportunity to catch up and network once more. Afternoon tea and the ice cream cart went down extremely well!
During my speech outlining my year so far and future plans, the 100-strong Rock Choir took their place behind the guests before giving a surprise concert under the direction of the talented Abigail Harris. The day was an enormous success, with huge thanks to my PA Nicky, my Under Sheriff and Police Cadets, my Swordbearer and Chaplain.
The month continues:
My day with Employment Judge Foxwell and his fellow judges at the Watford Employment Tribunal revealed their extremely heavy workload, with 7,500 cases ongoing in the South East Region. Their support staff keep things moving but a mammoth task.
Back to Mudlarks Garden Café in Hertford to meet the inspiring Chris and Hayley from Herts Domestic Abuse Helpline, such a vital service. So important too are the Special Constables; it is the most extreme form of volunteering, unpaid but with full police powers, giving time to the community, facing challenges and working as a team.
The Children and Young People Team in Stevenage turn negatives into positives by bespoke support, partnership working and really listening to what troubled young offenders have to say. They achieve superb results, focusing on Prevention First and diverting them from future criminal behaviour.
I always very much enjoy my voluntary sector visits. The community in St Albans benefits greatly from the work of The Vineyard Care Centre, which runs a foodbank and children’s clothes shop, offers advice and mentoring and a welcome place for people to gather. The Sandon Village croquet competition in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support had far too tempting a display of gorgeous cakes! Then another chance to support Gordon Morrison and his Helping Herts project as they took off on their charity walk.
Very different was my visit to Northwood HQ which is home to 2,500 military personnel and five major commands, including the International NATO Naval Command. Based in Hertfordshire, they play an enormously significant global role. On to Police HQ for another Awards Ceremony to celebrate the long service and outstanding achievements of Hertfordshire’s police officers and staff. The police dog came too!
An evening shift with the Road Policing Unit out of Stevenage was yet more proof of how hard the police work to reduce crime and increase road safety. Covering Herts, Beds and Cambs, these highly trained officers deal with serious collisions, arresting suspects, vehicle pursuits and recoveries, traffic management and much more. Fascinated to see a stinger and other equipment up close. We even encountered South Mimms Police Station - so small and tucked away it is very easy to miss!
Having had an important meeting in St Albans to plan my own Justice Service on 20th November, it was a delight to join the High Sheriffs of both Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire at their Services. An excellent opportunity to meet the Judges, Police, court staff, cadets and those involved in the administration of justice in the neighbouring counties. So too was a visit to Bedford Prison with Lady Clifford, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, to recognise National Hidden Heroes Day with the prison staff. Rehabilitating the prisoners is a real challenge.
My last event in September was a celebration. Youth Talk’s 25th Anniversary party, hosted by St Albans School, showcased their vital and increasing support for the mental health of young people. Rosie’s story won huge admiration, what courage to share how much Youth Talk achieves in the young community of St Albans.
Six months as High Sheriff of Hertfordshire already!
My first six months have brought massive insight into the valuable work of individuals and teams, public and voluntary services, and all those dedicated to making Hertfordshire a safer and better place in which to live.