The Office of High Sheriff of Lancashire

The High Sheriff of Lancashire has ancient origins and is personally appointed by the Queen in her Right as Duke of Lancaster. The office, as Keeper of the Queens Peace, is unpaid and held for one year.

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Edwin Booth is the Executive Chairman of E H Booth & Co Ltd., the proprietors of Booths Food Stores in the North of England and represents the fifth generation of the family that has operated Booths since 1847.  He entered the business immediately after leaving school and quickly discovered an enthusiasm for retailing.  The procurement of wine became his speciality for many years, enabling Booths to gain national recognition for this important area of the business.  Subsequently, he developed a successful marketing function prior to becoming Executive Chairman in 1997.  While promoting the business’s reputation for excellent service and goods he worked to create an enterprise with strong sustainability credentials and a focus on locally sourced food and drink.  Edwin became and HRH the Prince of Wales Business Ambassador for the North West in 2005 and in 2010 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Lancaster University for his services to the region and his industry.

Edwin has worked with the Lancashire Universities in the areas of leadership and business change programs.  He chaired the Business in the Community (BITC) Advisory Board for the North West from 2007 to 2014 and was instrumental in developing a program to engage schools with business.  He is Chair of the Harris Charity (Preston) which was co-founded by his forebear Edwin Henry Booth and is a Principal Trustee of the Prince’s Countryside Fund.  In June 2011 he was appointed Chair of the Lancashire LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership), a post he held for over 7 years and through which he and the board positioned Lancashire as one of the highest performing LEPs in the country.  In 2019 Edwin was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in Her Majesty’s New Year Honours list for services to business and charity.  He has been a Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire since 2005.

Edwin Booth CBE DL

The High Sheriff's year

April 2021

My year as High Sheriff did not start as expected. Under normal circumstances the installation would have been carried out formally on April 11th at County Hall in Preston but due to the pandemic restrictions this was not possible, as was the case for my predecessor Catherine Penny. Plan B was to recognise the rules governing church services and include the signing of my declaration in a morning service at Blackburn Cathedral, but it was decided that this would be unwise so early in the phased relaxation of the lockdown.

And so, to Plan C which was to have a socially distanced declaration in our garden at home with just the Under Sheriff and my Magistrate present (pictured). We plan to complete the formalities at a special Evensong service in July at which two Commissioners will witness my signed declaration before signing the writ which is then returned to Her Majesty the Queen. This ceremony is carried out in satisfaction of the Sheriff’s Act of 1887 and other traditions which are unique to the Palatine of Lancaster. The office of High Sheriff extends back through 1000 years and is referred to in 27 clauses in the Magna Carta of 1215 and it is a great privilege to be a small part of Lancashire’s history.

The primary responsibilities of the High Sherriff are to uphold the dignity of the Crown and support the judiciary as well as being available to celebrate all the good works that take place in our county, many of them unseen. My main concern for the next 11 months will be to learn more about what it is like to experience deprivation and the hopelessness that so often results in crime. I have spent the last month meeting organisations online that work with communities to help people lead better lives and find fulfilment. Society’s support of those in need is going to become increasingly important as we start to feel the long-term effects of the past year on health and the economy. I have already discovered the increase in pressure on food banks and homelessness is an ever-present issue that needs a resolution. Also of great concern is the matter of how ex-offenders feel when they leave prison only to re-offend through a loss of dignity and trust in a society that will often only see their past as a picture of their true character. This is another subject that I intend to understand more fully during my term.

I have just had a conversation with two directors of a splendid project to create an outdoor Heritage Museum south of Preston which will celebrate some of the history behind technologies that have been developed to support unique industries in the North West. I expect to meet many more people who are working to make Lancashire special, and this is one of the more pleasurable aspects of the High Sheriff’s day to day role in promoting our pride in our county.

On Sunday April 18th Anne and I attended a Thanksgiving Service for the life of Prince Philip. It was a fitting remembrance of a gentleman who gave so much during his long life and was so dedicated to Her Majesty the Queen. While it is a sadness that the Duke of Edinburgh will not witness her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee next year there will be a celebration of the most extraordinary reign and a Monarch who has been the bedrock of our British way of life.

May 2021

When I took up the appointment as High Sheriff I was told by the Under Sherriff that the year would start quietly. This, I thought would be a good time to start putting dates in the diary for all manner of meetings by Zoom, Teams, telephone and just maybe face to face. There is no doubt that the online meetings have been an eye opener with no travel required and business conducted at a far greater pace but last week I had my first “real” meeting with Directors of the Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside. It was a giddy moment to be able to experience a conversation in three dimensions! This is a wonderful organisation with great reach into the remoter corners of our county and I am looking forward to visiting many of the groups and communities with which they work. Funding is very much a matter of moment for many charitable organisations, and I am hoping to encourage a new level of support for them this year from the Lancashire business community. Our neighbours to the north have a vibrant corporate membership scheme and I am keen that we take learnings from Cumbria and create a Lancashire initiative which will bind enterprises together in helping to make lives better for people in need. Effective employees come from happy communities and it will be another route to reaching those parts of our districts that are often forgotten too easily.

Many people ask what the High Sheriff actually does. If we were living in the late 13th century the answer would be, quite a lot! I would be Judging cases in monthly courts and acting as a law enforcement officer. I would also be responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the Monarch and if there was a shortfall the High Sherriff had to make up the difference! From the early 1300s more of the High Sheriff’s powers were centralised with the exchequer collecting taxes and the establishment of itinerant Justices and Assizes. As recently as the 19th century, the High Sheriff’s responsibilities for police, prisons and Crown property were transferred to statutory bodies with surviving powers codified in the Sheriff’s act of 1887.

Today, as well as pursuing my community interests I will attend Royal visits to the county and support her Majesty’s High Court Judges when they are on circuit. The High Sheriff also cultivates a supportive relationship with the Police and emergency services. It is also important to understand how the probation and prison services operate as well as how other agencies work on crime prevention. The role is best described as supporting the principal organs of the Constitution, they being the Royal Family, Judiciary, law enforcers, emergency services, local authorities and recognised church and faith groups.

So, what does the Under Sheriff do I hear you ask? In legal and procedural matters, the Under Sheriff will advise the High Sheriff, leaving he or she in a position to concentrate on their stated community agenda and perform ceremonial duties. The advice and counsel from the Under Sheriff are vital ingredients in easing the transition between High Sheriff’s each year. Mr David Cam DL carries out this duty in Lancashire with aplomb and is always a listening ear when shrieval matters get complicated!

I have another 4 weeks of planning and consultations before we are aloud to mingle in large groups. From July my weeks will become busier and there will be new stories to tell. Next month I will explain what the post nominal DL means. Answers on a postcard please!

June 2021

Back in 2005 I was asked by the Lancashire Lord Lieutenant to become a Deputy Lieutenant (DL) and I will confess that at the time I knew little of what the role would entail. The office of Lord Lieutenant is military in origin and said to date back to the reign of Henry VIII. The office holder was responsible for the maintenance of order and all military measures necessary locally for defence. It was not until 1569 that provision was made for the appointment of DLs.

As Deputies we assist the Lord Lieutenant in upholding the dignity of the Crown as he is primarily the Queen’s representative in the county. From time to time the Lord Lieutenant will call upon his deputies to perform certain roles including that of officiating at Citizenship Ceremonies. Many of the DLs have performed the role of High Sheriff and they will have supported many public and volunteer organisations prior to being appointed. In Lancashire we are particularly fortunate that Lord Shuttleworth KG KCVO has been in post for 24 years and promoted a keen sense of public duty throughout the Lieutenancy and we are all looking forward to a special year in 2022 when the Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee. The Lord Lieutenant will be finding plenty for the DLs to do!

Mrs Booth and I enjoyed our first physical visit this month upon the occasion of the launch of a Guidebook for School Children visiting the Hindu Temple in Preston. Of course, there could only be 30 of us present but this did nothing to spoil the warm welcome that we received from the President of the Gujarat Hindu Society Mr Nayee and his colleagues. I was invited to light the Diya and various presentations were made including a dance by one of the members. There were also several children there from the local St Stephen’s School where the understanding of diverse religions is an important part of the school curriculum. After the formalities we were treated to some delicious Chickpea curry and Chapatis with a “goodie bag” to take home afterwards.

We were both struck by the caring and peaceful way of life which is taught in the Hindu culture and there are important lessons for all of us to learn whatever our beliefs. The past 18 months have shown the value of life in sharp relief and the Hindu culture inspires us to consider the importance of each and every one of us as unique individuals. As the end of restrictions looks forever closer, we hope to experience the many Faiths that are practiced throughout Lancashire and celebrate a county rich in cultural heritage. There is so much to learn from sharing meals, art and culture as these provide the values that sustain our wellbeing.

At the end of July, I hope to start a tour of 9 Prince’s Trust groups throughout Lancashire to make presentations and celebrate the hard work of so many young people striving to see their ideas and dreams come to fruition. The Trust and its volunteer supporters inspire youngsters from areas of deprivation to carry out business projects through which many long-term enterprises have been born. I am looking forward to learning more about their activities and sharing these with readers in a future edition.

July 2021

My column is becoming more and more like a commentary on the pandemic as the months roll by. I was hoping to share my experience of visiting two of the Prince’s Trust groups but all of the dates where cancelled due to ongoing concern about the transmission of Covid with virtual presentations hastily arranged. While this may be frustrating it is also encouraging that people and groups throughout the county are taking measures into their own hands to keep everyone as safe as possible while the rate of infection gradually subsides.

Anne and I were hosted at an outdoor buffet recently by visiting High Court Judges and we learned that the backlog of cases being heard in the courts has built up to a considerable level which in turn is putting pressure on the prisons as offenders await trial. This situation is not going to change quickly and with the configuration of court and jury rooms being altered to maintain safe working it may be a while before normal operations resume. Along with our NHS and the stress points in supply chains caused by both Covid and Brexit it will be many months before equilibrium is regained and anxiety relieved. In the meantime, there is a greater need than ever to support each other be it at home or in the workplace.

On the 11th of June we were able to complete the High Sheriff’s Installation formalities in a special Evensong service at Blackburn Cathedral. Although still not allowed to sing, we were treated to some magnificent singing by the choir and some spirited organ playing. It was an uplifting experience which pointed to better times ahead and an opportunity to contemplate everything that we have gone through over the past 18 months.

A short while after writing this, I will be attending an informal reception with past High Sheriff’s to honour a Lancastrian who has spent most of the past 45 years supporting the Queen in various roles at the College of Arms culminating in him becoming Garter King of Arms before retiring this summer. Many of us will have seen him performing one of his last duties at the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral where he read out the prince’s styles and titles as the coffin was lowered into the vault at St George’s chapel. We look forward to wishing Thomas Woodcock KCVO OStJ DL a long and restful retirement in Lancashire.

There has been an extremely positive response to the proposal to create a Business Membership Scheme at the Community Foundation for Lancashire. On September 28th there will be a launch event for Lancashire businesses where the CFL and existing supporters of the charity will speak about the benefits of being a part of a group of donors who are making a big difference to people’s lives in the county. More details will be published soon but if your business wants to secure a place at the event please call Rae Brooke, Chief Executive on 07515 328162 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

August 2021

Earlier this summer I had the privilege of presenting the British Citizen’s Award to Cdr Derek Scrivener who has spent 28 years supporting the Sea Cadets in Fleetwood and at 93 years old “Scriv” is a shining example of how the efforts of a dedicated individual can make a difference to so many people’s lives. The BCA medal is only awarded to 25 recipients bi-annually and is known as the “Peoples Award”. The event was attended by friends, family and Sea Cadets old and new who had many stories to tell about the gentleman who inspired them to do greater things.

The following weekend, yet another appointment was cancelled through safety concerns and like so many cancelled weddings I really felt for the organisers of the Family Fun Day that was to take place at Duxbury Park Golf Course Gardens. So many of us are having our resilience tested to the hilt but tomorrow is another day!

In Lancashire we have both a new Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner. Two weeks ago, the PCC Andrew Snowden invited me to a discussion on the subject of Retail Crime and Shopworker Abuse. There is no doubt that the pandemic changed the nature of crime in stores and now that restrictions have eased, incidents are on the rise again.  I’m relieved to learn that shopworker abuse has reduced, with the easing of restrictions. But it’s clear that the issue of mask wearing remains a hot topic.  At Booths, for the time being, we are still encouraging the wearing of masks in stores, but it’s not mandatory. As we all make our personal decisions around wearing of masks, I do hope that everyone remains respectful of personal choices.   

Just as I thought things were becoming more “normal” a meeting was cancelled this week due to the dreaded “ping”.  It’s a stark reminder that the virus is still present despite the welcome return wider freedoms. I was due to meet a member of the New Futures Network team this week and learn about the work they are doing but Ping prevented us going ahead. The NFN is a specialist part of HM Prison and Probation Service which brokers partnerships between prisons and employers. I hope that we can reconvene soon as the work of the NFN has never been more relevant to the employment issues being experienced by the food, hospitality and distribution industries.

Planning has now started for the Judges’ Service which is held in October to mark the beginning of the Judicial calendar. It’s a bit like school really, with Michaelmas, Hilary, Easter, and Trinity making up the four terms each year. The service is preceded and followed by a procession to and from the Sessions House and this ceremonial event has been enacted for centuries. The High Sheriff works with the Recorder and clergy to create a service worthy of this solemn occasion.

On Friday September 3rd I will hang my shield in Lancaster Castle. The “Shield Hanging” is unique to Lancashire and more will be revealed in next month’s column.

September 2021

The day of the High Sheriff’s Shield Hanging at Lancaster Castle finally arrived on September 3rd. Headed by mounted police with ceremonial uniforms and banners I processed accompanied by Senior Police representatives, my Police Cadets, the Under Sheriff, Judges and Norroy and Ulster King of Arms. We had been preceded by the Honorary Recorder of Lancaster with County officials and the Mayor and the Lord Lieutenant with Lady Shuttleworth. The Ecclesiastical procession including my Chaplain The Very Reverend Peter Howell-Jones brought up the rear as we entered the Lancaster Priory for a service of thanksgiving. It was a wonderful prelude to proceedings with a choir from Blackburn providing a strong lead in the Hymns and performing the anthems conducted by the Director of Music John Robinson.

Everyone then took their places in the Shire Hall and the Under Sheriff read the proclamation after which Norroy and Ulster King of Arms was called upon to verify my shield after which I applied to the Constable of the castle to have the shield hung under the arms of our Monarch Queen Elizabeth. This tome honoured ceremony has been enacted for centuries and I was told on good authority that I am the 603rd High Sheriff of Lancashire. It was a small piece of history unique to our county and a great privilege to be a part of Lancashire’s heritage.

There are many facets to the High Sheriff’s role and this month I attended a group forum with young people with special educational needs. Their welcome was heart-warming, and I am learning a lot about the challenges they face.

Attending the BBC Radio Lancashire “Make a Difference” awards in Blackpool was both a sobering and uplifting occasion. This was an opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary feats undertaken by members of our society form 12 years old to 70. So many stories were told about individuals and groups whose purpose was to make lives better for others despite often suffering from illness and disability themselves. Next month I will launch my own “High Sheriff Awards” which will be given out at the end of my term in March 2022. I know already that it is going to be almost impossible to pick the winners!

One of my key areas of interest is the efforts that are made to help prison leavers to find employment through which to build a new life and contribute to their families and society as a whole. This is an extremely complex subject, but this is no reason to pass it by. I have just had a meeting with James Timpson from Timpsons to explore the work he and his team have been doing to enable willing ex-offenders develop a career. Although there are not many businesses working in this area, I am keen to see where I can make a difference and engage with Lancashire prison Governors to see what can be done with the help of the New Futures Network. Over the next 6 months I will build my knowledge with a view to determining how I and likeminded businesses are able to help.

Octobert 2021

Early in October Anne and I attended the Beating Retreat at Fulwood Barracks as guest of Colonel Miller and his team. There is nothing more rousing than a marching band and the musicians performed immaculately making us all feel so proud of our armed forces. Whether it’s the army, navy or air force, there is a diversity of roles to perform and there are careers to take up at many levels. The social good provided by the army during the pandemic should not be forgotten with multiple examples of absolute commitment to keeping the citizens of our country safe.

The launch of “Lancashire Investors in Community” took place at Browsholme Hall a few weeks ago and was a wonderful occasion for Lancashire businesses to hear about the work of the Community Foundation for Lancashire and my new initiative to create a membership group of enterprises that want to make a real difference to peoples’ lives at local level. The support received so far has been amazing and will already enable the CFL to reach so many more voluntary groups that need funds to work with the increasing number of people in need. A short while ago I visited Accrington Maundy Relief and experienced the hands-on effort being made by volunteers as they provide help and guidance to people who otherwise would lose the will to live.

My visit to HMP Wymott was my first opportunity to engage with the prison service on the ground and learn about their work to educate residents and prepare them for life outside. The enthusiasm of the teaching staff was tangible, and I had the opportunity to speak to a number of prisoners about how they benefitted from the learning and if this would improve their prospects. It is not all rosy and one gentleman expressed concern at being able to find a job outside while other were afraid of slipping back into old habits and lifestyles. The education required goes beyond academic and practical skills and that is before the need for accommodation is considered. This is an understandably complex area as not all prison leavers have home to go to. It is impossible to find work unless there is an identifiable address to give and despite the sterling efforts of forward-looking companies there is more to do to make sure ex-offenders feel  secure and that society cares enough to help them look forward not back to their old ways. There are, of course some prisoners whose release has to be considered an ongoing risk to the community and in the event that they are released, specific measures need to be employed, however there are a large majority whose offences are relatively minor and who seek fulfilment and security that was absent in their recent past and which many of us take for granted.

The Judges’ Service has now taken place in Preston and the proclamation made to confirm the appointment of Judges in Lancashire for another year. This may seem anachronistic at a time when there is a backlog of work to be undertaken but it serves to remind the Judiciary of the very responsible part they play along with the courts and Police Force in maintaining law and order.

The High Sheriff’s role is often diverse, and I had the pleasure of meeting a group of pilgrims from Kriya Arts camping overnight in Lancashire on their way to COP 26. They will perform plays in Glasgow and were putting on a brave face as they shrugged off the rain en route! At the Harris Museum one weekend, I had to re-learn the skill of keeping very still at a sitting for the Preston Portrait Challenge where the past High Sheriff and I had our portraits painted. Congratulations to Liam Dickinson who took first prize and capturing the High Sheriff in pensive mood!

November 2021

My shrieval year is turning out to be a “game of two halves” with a very busy schedule in the lead up to Christmas. Anne and I had the pleasure of attending the Judicial service at Liverpool Cathedral as guests of the High Sheriff, Nigel Lanceley DL and we reciprocated when both he and the High Sheriff of Manchester joined us at the High Sheriff and Dean’s Banquet in Blackburn Cathedral. It was a magnificent event with stirring musical performances by the choir under the direction of the Director of Music, John Robinson, and a solo performance by Darwen’s rising star Cormac Thompson who entranced the diners with his rendition of “You raise me up”.

Each year the High Sheriff entertains the Lancashire Mayors to a reception, and I decided to share my enthusiasm for wine by hosting a wine tasting at the new Booths Gallery Wine Bar in Lytham. There was much slurping and sniffing accompanied by a preview of Christmas canapes to get everyone in a festive mood. The Mayors know how to enjoy a party!

My visits to small voluntary groups have continued under the guidance of the Community Foundation for Lancashire and I continue to be struck by the sheer diversity of work that is being carried out by so many unpaid volunteers. Activities range from helping people to find the right support for mental health problems to just “being there” on the end of the phone when people find themselves losing the will to live. Some of the stories I have been told are heart rending. I have spent time with recovered drug users and people who crave the encouragement to lead better lives, and this is where the volunteers work day in day out sometimes for 24 hours at a time. These are our Lancashire angels.

The High Sheriff has the opportunity to experience policing on the front line and I recently spent 8 hours on the Neighbourhood and Night-Time shifts in Preston. By 3.30am in the morning I had witnessed the measured and calm way our police officers deal with some very difficult situations from drug overdoses to extreme examples of anti-social behaviour. My thanks go to the officers who enabled me to engage with their operations with both good humour and professionalism. The presence of the High Sheriff provided both interest and mirth. I was asked on more than one occasion where I kept my horse and “would I be returning to Texas?”

I have had a strong welcome from the Lancashire prisons with whom I intend to find opportunities for the employment of ex-offenders. There is a lot to learn about the “hidden service” whose colleagues deal with a multiplicity of personal issues and the release process needs to be handled with both care and sensitivity. It is my hope that by engaging the private sector more closely with both the local authorities and prison service, prison leavers will have a better chance to find a purpose in life and develop a sense of self-worth. This is never going to be easy but the more of us that try, the lesser the burden on society in so many ways.

December 2021

The role of the High Sheriff is never dull! This month I have met with groups of volunteers and organisations that are the lifeblood of the  Lancashire community. The “Seated Exercise” group in Longridge Civic Hall is a great example of how the Fitness Team have risen to the challenges thrown up by the pandemic which has caused so many older people to suffer from isolation and mobility issues. They are now reaching out to the whole of Ribble Valley and I look forward to experiencing how this initiative develops later in the year.

In St Annes I attended a social gathering of “Just Good Friends”. It is too easy to think that this is an area where isolation isn’t a problem, but I soon learned that all communities in our county have been touched by loneliness and it was heart warming to hear so many stories from people who had lacked the confidence to step outside their door. Just as concerning is the hardship that many are experiencing in affording to live.  “Rummage Rescuers” in Blackburn have been doing wonderful work to ensure that people suffering from extreme poverty have the essentials that they need for a dignified life. The selflessness of the volunteers is an example to all of us who lead normal lives and if there was ever a good time to contemplate a New Year’s resolution it is now.

The language barrier and navigating swathes of form filling are a challenge for many people who have recently arrived on our shores and the Lancashire BME network team were hard at work when I called at their offices. Many Lancashire residents would be helpless without their support and the energy displayed by the young team was tangible and uplifting.

Anne and I were given a warm welcome by the members of the Sikh Temple in Preston who were celebrating the anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. The preparation of the flagpole and flag is a painstaking ritual, and we were privileged to experience the reverence of the occasion before it was raised and attached to the outside of the building in Tunbridge Street. We also enjoyed traditional food with the guests. The spiced tea was delicious, and I will be finding out more about how to make it!

The same evening we attended the “Switch On” of the Preston Christmas lights in the Market Square. This was one of the occasions when the High Sheriff is asked to appear in full uniform wearing Sam Brown and sword. The last thing that I expected was to be making High Sheriff shapes with the Four Tops on the stage. It was a special moment to be able to tell them how much I have enjoyed their music for more years than I like to admit!

My month has ended with the opportunity to address a Rural Support mini conference hosted by the Diocese of Blackburn’s Rural Focus Group. The challenges for people living and farming in remote rural areas are immense as the effect of Brexit and withdrawal of EU subsidies take effect. New measures for support proposed by our government rightly centre on environmental matters but it must not be forgotten that the farm businesses need to plan for the transition against a background of volatile market conditions and climatic change. The availability of fast broadband connection is a vital enabler which added to the continuing issue of digital illiteracy gives both voluntary groups and our authorities plenty to think about.

January 2022

Sometimes you make a visit that you cannot get out of your mind. In late November I travelled to Blackpool’s Grange Park council  estate to meet Laurance Hancock who founded Boathouse Youth  over 10 years ago to support the young people living in one of the most deprived areas of the UK. Some of the stories about living standards there are quite shocking  and Laurance and his dedicated team work hard to inspire the local youth to experience many of the things that so many of us take for granted. If I tell you that many of the residents have never seen the sea, this gives you an idea of how little aspiration and mobility there is. The coast is just over 1 mile away!

The High Sheriff is entitled to sit I the Crown Court with High Court Judges and I have had the privilege of experiencing the rigour with which serious cases are heard. It is also incumbent on the High Sheriff and his Lady to entertain visiting Justices to dinner although covid restrictions rendered this impossible in the first half of my term. We recently had the pleasure of entertaining two visiting High Court Judges to a jovial dinner which proved to be a spirited prelude to Christmas!

Anne and I were invited to attend the Duchy carol service at the Queens Chapel of the Savoy in London along with our High Sheriff companions from Liverpool and Manchester. The Lancashire High Sheriff is asked to read one of the lessons and this was a memorable occasion in a sacred church that was built at the request of King Henry vii and completed in 1515.

There is a strong need for more people to put themselves forward to become Magistrates and I attended the High Court to witness the swearing in of a new cohort. The contribution made by the Justices of the Peace is an important part of our judicial fabric. There is no need to be legally trained but an interest in how people live, and society’s moral construct is a good place to start.

It was heart-warming to visit Cash for Kids and learn about their “Mission Christmas” initiative in conjunction with Rock FM. The volunteers were wrapped up like Eskimos as they battled the cold and sorted toys for distribution to deprived children throughout Preston. It is hard to believe that there is such hardship under our very noses and the work of groups like this makes a huge difference to how so many young people feel over the festive holiday.

I spent almost a whole day with “Friends for You” in Chorley. This multi-faceted voluntary group was founded by Marjorie Hayward 5 years ago and exists to ensure that nobody needs to be lonely and the “Talking Tables” initiative with the support of local cafes is a fine example of a charitable organisation being supported by commercial enterprise. I had many conversations with people that had found comfort in sitting down with people who had experienced feelings of isolation and many new friendships were being born. There is also an “After Loss Club” where I met people recently bereaved and some who had lost a loved one some time ago but who found solace in being able to share their stories with both feeling and good humour too.

December came to a close with the Festival of Carols in Blackburn Cathedral; am opportunity to experience some wonderful musical performances but more importantly to contemplate an extraordinary 9 months as High Sheriff and pray for a better life for everyone in 2022.

February 2022

Throughout my year as High Sheriff I have met some extraordinary people young and old who make it their business to be the difference they want to see in the world. You may have read that somewhere before! A short while ago I met Travis Frain who was badly injured in the Westminster Bridge attack in 2017. He has wasted no time in finding ways to draw attention to the futility of terrorism and during the pandemic commenced a project called “Resilience in Unity”. Travis has conducted online interviews with many terrorism survivors worldwide which he uses to campaign against radicalization and persuade people turning to terror as a weapon of last resort.

My highlight of January was the opportunity to meet their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Clitheroe Community Hospital. Later in the day they visited the Church on the Street in Burnley where Pastor Mick and his team are doing wonderful things to support people with deep personal issues in the town.

It was an honour to be asked to deliver a short address at the Synagogue in St Annes where a service was held as a memorial to the Holocaust. It was live streamed and I was struck by the deep feelings expressed and sense of hope that the world will remember this dreadful event as a deterrent to further racial hatred and genocide.

As I near the end of my term I am turning my mind to the High Sheriff awards which recognise people who selflessly help others who find themselves in dire situations. The Community Foundation for Lancashire is helping me to find worthy nominees and I look forward to reading their stories before choosing the winners and runners up. There will also be an award ceremony for the LANPAC (Lancashire Partnership Against Crime) “Young Citizen Award 2021/22” where I will recognise a young person who has worked to find a way to reduce crime in our communities.

Some months ago I wrote about my desire to help prison leavers to find sustainable employment and accommodation whether they are returning to their families or living alone. I am now working with the New Futures Network and Timpson Foundation to form an Employment Advisory Board at HMP Lancaster Farms and I look forward to this work continuing beyond my High Sheriff hand over date. I am convinced that with broad collaboration there will be less ex-offenders that find themselves back before magistrates and although this is not a straightforward piece of work the results will make a real difference to our society.

The High Sheriff has a number of traditional events to host not least the Past High Sheriff’s Lunch which will take place before the end of March. It is a good occasion to share stories and reflect on this ancient role which has been reinvented in our modern age to concentrate on supporting and inspiring people who want to live fulfilling lives but sometimes find this almost impossible through circumstance and matters outside their control.

March 2022

I conclude my duties as High Sheriff on April 8th when the new High Sheriff will be sworn in at County Hall. However there has been lots to do as my year draws to a close.

At the end of February, I joined the Senior Coroner for Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen to hear the oaths of new assistant Coroners in the Shire Hall in Lancaster Castle. It was a grand event in a location steeped with history and well worth a visit for all Lancastrians!

On Commonwealth Day Anne and I joined the Lord Lieutenant and Lancashire Leaders to celebrate the Commonwealth and recognise the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a tree planting. A short while ago the Deputy Lieutenants joined Lord Shuttleworth in planting over 50 trees at Dolphinholme as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative through which millions of trees are being planted throughout the United Kingdom.

The National Crimebeat Awards ceremony in London was a wonderful celebration of what so many dedicated young people are doing to address the societal issues of our times. I was particularly proud that our county’s nominee was the runner up to the winner of the youth led category. Well done Travis Frain – you are an inspiration @ResilienceUnity.

Mrs Booth and I are shortly to visit the Sea Cadets in Accrington for their awards evening which will be followed at the weekend by a lunch for the past Lancashire High Sheriffs. We will be joined by a young historian, Christopher Tinmouth who will give an address detailing some of the history behind the Lancashire Shrievalty.

That now leaves the LANPAC awards at Police Headquarters and the High Sheriff Awards which will mark the end of my year on March 31st where upon both occasions some outstanding young Lancastrians will be recognised for initiatives that help prevent crime and support families in difficulty as well as the communities where they live.

As I write, the Queen will be pricking the lites to appoint the new High Sheriffs of Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside in a time honoured tradition that goes back many centuries.
It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve our county as High Sheriff and I wish my successor every good fortune in taking on a role that has existed for over 600 years.