January 2020

Here are a few of the events and activities that I have been involved with during January……

Chairman RCC’s Civic Reception at Rutland Museum

This afternoon Cllr Kenneth Bool, Chair of the County Council, invited a number of local people to his Civic Reception in Rutland Museum.  It was a wonderful occasion for people involved in a diverse range of activities and organisations to meet with one another and share experiences and challenges. – and some delicious tea too!  Cllr Bool made a speech of thanks to all who work so tirelessly in whatever way, to make Rutland a great place in which to live. Our new MP, Alicia Kearns also spoke about her desire to fully support the community of Rutland. A great afternoon – thank you to all involved in organising the occasion. 

Safer Community Celebrations at College Court, Leicester

Tonight, Lord Willy Bach, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire and Rutland, hosted a Safer Community Celebration to recognise the outstanding contributions to the delivery of the Police and Crime Plan. There were seven award categories: Community Safety Partnership (Project of the Year), Viable Partnerships, Visible Policing, Victim Services, Vulnerability Protection, Value for Money and Special Recognition. These awards recognised the work of many individuals and groups, often unsung heroes giving their time freely. It was a real privilege to learn about the nominees and congratulate them and each winner. The final Special Recognition award went to the Leicestershire Search & Rescue, which is comprised entirely of dedicated volunteers who selflessly give their time to support the police in the search and rescue of vulnerable high-risk missing people. 

The evening was compered by BBC Radio Leicester’s Ben Jackson and included great speeches of ‘thanks’ from Lord Willy Bach and Chief Constable Simon Cole. This was a fabulous evening in which to celebrate the good work of so many and for Lord Bach to mark the near end (in May) of his time as PCC.

Leicester and Rutland Swearing In Ceremony

This afternoon I witnessed the Swearing In ceremony for ten new magistrates at Leicester Crown Court. The ceremony was led by HH Judge Dean QC and attended by other magistrates, judges, the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland ,and friends. This is a very special occasion, as the new magistrates have volunteered their time to aadminister the law of our country. Their decisions in court will be made carefully and fairly. HH Judge Dean QC gave an excellent address reminding the new volunteers that they were there to serve the country and to be fair to “all people”. Afterwards we enjoyed some light refreshments and the opportunity to meet the new magistrates. Many are still in full-time work, so need to fit their court sittings and training time around this. I wish each of them well, as they take on this invaluable task for us all in Rutland and Leicestershire.

Talk on role of High Sheriff of Rutland Sailability

This morning it was a real pleasure to give a talk to the members of Sailability about my role and experiences as a High Sheriff. I illustrated my talk with slides and spoke about the history of the role, its evolution over the years and the experiences and activities that I have had during my shrieval year. Sailability is a wonderful organisation “supporting disabled people to enjoy freedom afloat”. Most of the year they meet on Thursdays  (and Saturday mornings) and enjoy sailing on Rutland Water. During the winter months, the members still meet on Thursdays but sailing is not possible so they enjoy a variety of  talks and some good sociable time. It is always a pleasure to go to Sailablity – the members are friendly, positive people and the volunteers are many and so supportive. 

 WiP Presentations at The Curve, Leicester

Tonight we joined the members of WiP (Women in Philanthropy) and their guests at their Presentation evening at The Curve, Leicester. WiP is a network of women building a sustainable fund with the goal of improving local life by helping small, often unknown charities across Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland. WiP chooses three different charities to support each year, all doing essential work to keep our city and counties healthy, safe and thriving. All WiP membership money goes to support these charities, with half invested to provide a future income and the rest going straight to them at the end of the year.

After a sociable hour with drinks and refreshments, we took our places in the theatre and firstly listened to an introduction by David Ross from the Senior Management Team of The Curve  Theatre. The Curve is one of the generous sponsors for WiP and kindly hosted the evening. Three charities were supported this year 2019/20 – Out of Hours Rutland, Dear Albert and the Zinthiya Trust. Each charity showcased their short films, created for WiP by the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation and De Montfort University. Bishop Tim Stevens (Bishop of Leicester 1999 – 2015) interviewed volunteers from each charity – deepening our understanding of their work. It was truly fascinating and humbling to hear and see the great work that each of these charities undertakes and the positive effect it has on those receiving their support. At the end of the evening, the three new charities to be supported in the coming year were announced. If you are interested in joining WiP then please look here – all your membership money will be used to support the selected charities and you will enjoy some very interesting and sociable occasions during the year with other members.  

Friday 24th  Commemoration Service for Queen Katharine of Aragon at Peterborough Cathedral

It was a real privilege to join the annual Commemoration Service for Queen Katharine of Aragon at Peterborough Cathedral this morning. The Diocese of Peterborough Cathedral includes Rutland, Northamptonshire and Peterborough, so representatives from all three counties were present today. Together with many school children, we processed to the cathedral from St John’s church, Cathedral square. The service was led by the Dean of Peterborough and included a short address by the Spanish Ambassador (His Excellency Sr. Carlos Bastarreche) and readings from pupils of the Queen Katharine Academy and Jack Hunt School in Peterborough. During the service wreaths were laid at the tomb of Katharine of Aragon who died at Kimbolton Castle in 1536. She was born in 1485, daughter of King Ferdinand11 and Queen Isabella of Spain. In 1509 she became the first wife of King Henry Vlll but in 1533 he annulled their marriage and she became known as the Dowager Princess of Wales. Many visitors to the cathedral place pomegranates  – her heraldic symbol – on her tomb. This service was followed by a weekend of events including a candlelit tour of the cathedral, a day of activities by some primary school children and a concert of Spanish music, dance and theatre. It is great to see that this piece of history is acknowledged every year with our young people. 

De Montfort University Graduation day

This morning we joined the Graduation ceremony for De Montfort University at the Venue, Leicester. Over 140 students were graduating at this session, which was a lively occasion incorporating small video clips showing the campus and talking with some of the students. This morning Mr David Banner MBE, a graduate of De Montfort University some 25 years ago, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Technology. In 2012, David co -founded his multi-award winning video game company, Wales Interactive. The company builds games that are playful, experimental and original, and has been instrumental in establishing Wales as a digital hub for game design. In his acceptance speech David described how he started life as a very quiet boy from the Rhondda valley at the University, but with a ‘have a go’ attitude and a mindset that treats failure as a learning experience, he has built his hugely successful company. His speech was inspirational and really encouraged all those graduating students to go out into the world and to be active, creative and positive.

Barleythorpe Brownies

This evening I visited the 1st Barleythorpe Brownies during one of their regular weekly meetings. They were preparing for their ‘Brownie holiday’ which was to take place on Friday  – Sunday of the coming weekend in Exton. I visited the Brownies at Exton Village Hall on the Sunday of this holiday. They were more quiet than usual – perhaps due to the reduced sleep that they had enjoyed whilst sleeping in the Hall on Friday and Saturday nights ! They had experienced a wide range of activities including first aid, craft skills, preparing items for Chinese New Year etc – all activities which help them to develop confidence and good self – esteem. Massive ‘well done ‘ to Nichola Resoli  (Brown Owl) and her team of volunteer helpers for enabling this to happen . 

MICE event at Uppingham School

Today the Year 10 pupils at Uppingham School took part in a mock trial arranged by some Magistrates from the Leics and Rutland Bench. I was invited to join them, along with the Lord-Lieutenant and a few magistrates. Some budding actors from school were given scripts for the key players in a court room:  three magistrates, usher, two barristers (for prosecution and defence), defendant and witnesses. Martin Pantling JP introduced the students to the courtroom and explained some of the procedures. The court room drama was ‘acted out’ and then all students were asked to deliberate on the guilt or otherwise of the defendant. Martin also explained about the range of sentences that magistrates can give from community work, fines to 6 month prison sentences. It was great to see the students fully engaged in this activity, asking good questions and realising that the decisions of a court require analytical, objective and  reasoned thinking. A really helpful and interesting experience for all concerned.

Oakham Lower School assembly

This morning I had the pleasure of meeting the pupils in Oakham Lower School (age 10 – 13) and to address them at an assembly. I started with a ‘warm-up’ quiz to ensure that they were all alert and then I presented a brief  slide show about the role of a High Sheriff both in the past and as it is today. I also encouraged them to take part in the last of my Photography Competitions which closes on 31 January. 

Theatre : Dry

This play was performed in Rutland county museum by a touring group. The acting was of a high standard and the play showed the issues that arise with a gradual increase in drinking, within one family. It carries some hard hitting messages. Afterwards there was a Q& A session with those working at Turning Point , based in Rutland Community Hub and PC Joshua Ace from Uppingham.  Turning Point offers support to those with addictions (alcohol and others)  and their families. 

Lunch with For Rutland to launch their sorting campaign.

For Rutland raises funds to pay for specialist advisers, based at Citizens Advice, who provide free, confidential, independent, non-medical advice to people of all ages who are living with long term health conditions in Rutland and the surrounding area. For Rutland’s biggest fund raising event is their Good and New Sale which takes place on Friday/Saturday 6th/7th March, with a Good and New Men’s sale the weekend before. Last year they raised a massive £53,000 through these two events. However this all requires a huge amount of preparation, so the ‘sorting’ of clothes starts this week and today the volunteers enjoyed a ‘launch lunch’ to set them on their way. It was a lovely occasion and a real delight to see the many volunteers who so generously give their time and energy for this great charity. 

South Luffenham Village Hall Coffee and cake

Tracey Steward, Chair of S Luffenham Village Hall kindly invited me to join them for coffee and cake in the village Hall. Tracey runs a ‘Stay and Play’ group with locals in the Hall on a Monday morning, and decided to follow it with a ‘Coffee and Cake’ event to celebrate the start of National Village Hall week.  The Rural Community Council supported the event with their new ‘rural coffee connect’ cart which supplies free coffees and other hot drinks to rural locations in Rutland and Leicestershire. The combination of ‘two chimps’ coffee, some delicious home-made scones and some great local company was really enjoyable. It was a delight to hear about the happenings in this social village which runs many events in the Village Hall – I believe that Burns Supper is the next evening event. 

Graduation Ceremony at Leicester University

It was a real privilege to attend one of the Winter Graduation ceremonies at Leicester University this morning.  We were welcomed by the new Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, before congratulating the students on receiving their degrees, masters and postgraduate diplomas. It was very interesting to hear the acceptance speech from Bob Woods MBE who was made a Doctorate of Laws. He co-founded Mattioli Woods plc, in Leicester, which is now one of the UK’s leading providers of wealth management and employee benefit services. The students and their parents were thrilled and rightly very proud to witness this occasion, after which many of the students start forth on their exciting careers.

Home – film by Sarah Outen

This was a great film to watch in Rutland County museum, together with the subject and director of the film, Sarah Outen.  Sarah was born and brought up in Rutland. The film tells the story of her adventures and experiences both physical and mental, as she traversed the globe self-powered on a bike, kayak or rowing boat. The journey, with breaks for weather and illness took over 4 years and is an amazing achievement. The pictures, as well as the narrated story are incredible. I recommend you watch this inspirational film.

 Regional High Sheriffs’ conference

Today we enjoyed the annual High Sheriffs’ Regional conference, organised this year by the High Sheriff of Nottingham. High Sheriffs – both current and in nomination – were in attendance from Derbyshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Rutland, Leicestershire and of course Nottinghamshire. We heard some interesting, and often amusing talks from the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire concerning the relationship between the Lord Lt and the High Sheriff in a county. Further talks about the roles of High Sheriff were heard from the perspective of  His Honour Judge Greg Dickinson QC and  the Police and Crime Commissioner  (Paddy Tipping). A representative from National Crimebeat also spoke to encourage HSs to put forward projects that young people are working on in their county to reduce crime. This is an annual competition which concludes with a great presentation day in London and prizes for the winning teams. Our day was completed – after a delicious and sociable lunch – with an impressive Police Dog demonstration. The dogs and their officers have clearly trained closely together and are not a force to take on !

Brooke Priory School Assembly

Today I was delighted to attend the weekly assembly at Brooke Priory School. I was invited to give a short presentation about the role of a High Sheriff and also to discuss how many of us (often in uniform) have different responsibilities within the community. The pupils were beautifully behaved and asked some interesting questions. It was a real pleasure to join this occasion which also included celebrations for those with a birthday this week and music provided by a small orchestra of children. 

Stamford and Rutland Photographic Exhibition

Today I visited this exhibition in Rutland Museum. It is a wonderful collection of colourful and imaginative photographs taken both here in Rutland and abroad. Great talent shown by those who ‘find’ the great shot and then capture it carefully.

Rutland Local History and Records Society

This evening I attended the meeting of the Rutland Local History & Record Society at Oakham Castle. The evening began with a presentation by Tim Clough (prepared by Robert Ovens) on the 12 nominees for the Rutland Built Environment Awards 2019. These Awards are now in their fortieth year and are organised by the Society with support from Rutland County Council. They are given in recognition of significant contributions towards conserving or enhancing the built environment of Rutland and are in memory of two outstanding local historians: George Phillips (1857-1934) and Tony Traylen (1927-2008). The nominees included a wide and interesting range of projects (conversions, new buildings, bridge repairs etc) in Rutland. I was delighted to present the awards to the owners and architects of the winning and commended projects. Congratulations to all nominees, and in particular to the winners who now have fabulous plaques to place on their building.

In the second half of the meeting we heard a fascinating talk on Dovecotes by Colin Ray – slides showed the variety of Dovecotes in this country and the features that they include.  The evening concluded with some refreshments and an opportunity to talk with the nominees and members of the Society.Thank you for inviting me to join is such an interesting evening.

Time in Nature 

During Winter/Spring time, Rutland Water Nature Reserve has started running Time in Nature sessions. They take place every fortnight for people living with dementia and their families. The sessions start with refreshments and then an outdoor activity that might include a walk to a hide for birdwatching, cooking at an open fire in the woods etc.. After this, the attendees gather back in the new Volunteer centre at Egleton for a lunch and chat. I joined this session today – it is such a wonderful way for those with dementia (and their carers) to enjoy activities together, to chat with others and to appreciate the beauty of our rural environment. This event can only take place with the support of many volunteers  – thanks to all who I met today. This event is run in conjunction with Age UK, Rutland County Council and Admiral nurses.