July 2019

Here you can read about a few of the activities that I have been engaged with during the month. Please do contact me if you would like further information about any of these organisations or events

Tues 30thJuly.  Leicestershire Scouts and Guides International Camp at Charnwood

It was wonderful to visit this huge International camp held at Charnwood, organised by Leicstershire Scouts and Guides. 5000 Scouts, Guides and Rangers were treated to a week at this camp, carefully and impressively managed by 1000 volunteers. Youngsters had the opportunity to try a wide range of activities (eg drumming, zip wires, CPR ) and to learn about conservation, recycling, volunteering and many many more skills. This year there were 1000 students from 24 different countries staying too which allowed all to share and learn about different cultures and climates. Sadly our climate was not at its best for July and huge quantities of rain have left the site looking rather similar to Glastonbury ’97. However this did not dampen the enthusiasm from all on the site – youngsters and volunteers. I spoke with three girls from Grenada who were loving the experience despite having left a sunny home country. Scouts and Gudies (10 – 14) and Explorers, Rangers & Young Leaders (15 – 17) develop great life skills, whilst having a lot of fun. Do conisder becoming involved in this extrememly worthwhile movement. Congratulations to all involved in making this incredible event happen.

Sunday 28th Junior Park Run

This morning I joined the Junior Park run for their weekly 2 km run alongside Rutland Water. It was fantastic to see so many young people  taking part – the youngest runner I came across was aged 4 !  We ran in torrential rain but this didn’t seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the runners or the helpers. Great to see many adults and children acting as volunteers to organise the run and encourage along the way. Some youngsters received awards for completing 11 runs (equivelnt to a half marathon) and others received certificates in recognition of their  volunteering efforts. Photo shows the Alliston family where Ben and Sophie had received volunteering awards. I really enjoyed the occasion and look forward to returning on a warmer and drier Sunday morning. Why not consider going along with your youngster ? Read more here.

Wed 24th.  Dinner with The Hon Justice Jeremy Baker

We were hosted at a delightful dinner in  Nottingham by The Hon Justice Jeremy Baker, currently a presiding Judge of the Midland Circuit.  We were joined by other High Sheriffs and their partners from nearby counties as well as the first female Judge from Derby. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the issues and challenges of our neighbouring counties and for our Judges. Jeremy was appointed a Justice of the High Court in March 2013.  As a member of the North Eastern Circuit, he formerly practised at Sheffield’s Paradise Chambers and specialised in criminal cases, both prosecuting and defending serious and sensitive cases.  His practice covered police disciplinary and coronial inquest matters, together with medical malpractice and HSE work.  We are very fortunate that the Hon Justice Jeremy Baker will be attending the Justice service in Rutland later this year and sitting in our court in Oakham Castle afterwards. This is a biennial event in Rutland, which must be attended by a High Court Judge.  A really enjoyable and interesting evening.

Monday 22nd. Leicester Crown Court

Today we had a really interesting and educational time at Leicester Crown Courts. We spent the day sitting with Judges who were dealing with criminal offences. They worked through their caseload at a relentless rate as there were many cases to try to get through in the day. Our Judges listen and question with care; they then clearly, firmly and respectfully explain to the accused the reasoning for their sentence. Great focus and clarity of thought is constantly required. Really impressive to see our courts ‘in action’. Many thanks to the Judges and Court staff who were so welcoming and helped explain the workings and challenges of our court system. 

Saturday 21st. The Defence Animal Training Regiment Open Day

Fabulous to visit Remount Barracks at Melton Mowbray for their Defence Animal Regiment Open Day. We saw brilliant displays from the EM Police dogs and an Army mascot parade. We were able to watch the farriers in action and see the beautifully groomed horses receiving much attention from the many visitors.  Canine Training Squadron is the largest Squadron within the Defence Animal Training Regiment. Their mission is to provide Military Working Dogs and Personnel trained in their use and husbandry in order to meet the needs of the Defence. The Army School of Equitation here is responsible for the training and development of all military riding instructors and horse trainers across the Army. The maximum number of horses that can be held at this location is 396. Additionally we were able to see demonstrations from the Veterinary Training Squadron – personnel here are responsible for the veterinary care of the Military Working Animals. 

Good to meet the Leics Police Volunteers in their show tent promoting their varied opportunities – such a very worthwhile organisation working to improve safety for us all. Read more here about the Police cadets.

Friday 20th. Graduations at Leicester University

Very proud to represent Rutland as High Sheriff in the procession for the two graduation ceremonies today for Leicester University at the De Montfort Hall. Graduates were congratulated from the faculties of Life Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities. It is very moving to see these young people on the verge of going out into the world to ‘make a difference’ using their individual skills, knowledge, creativity and confidence. Excellent speeches congratulated and encouraged them to go out with confidence and humility. It was also fascinating to hear the histories of those receiving Honorary Awards today: George Davies (creator of Next), Nazir Afzal OBE (Lawyer in many high profile cases in the Crown Prosecution service) and Professor Sir Peter Bell (eminent surgeon focusing on vascular surgery and organ transplantation). The University of Leicester is a research-intensive university committed to international excellence. As the world comes together today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, we are reminded that Leicester University has a long record of involvement in space science. Many thanks to all the staff that so generously hosted my visit including Professor Edmund Burke (President and Vice-Chancellor (Acting)), The Rt Hon The Lord Willetts (Chancellor) and Dr Suzie Imber (Pro-Chancellor (Students)). A very memorable day.

Thursday 18th Rutland Rotary Club talk

It was a delight to join the Rutland Rotary Club in the Whipper Inn, Oakham for one of their monthly suppers. I was invited to give a talk about  the role of a High Sheriff . I hope that I enlightened the audience sufficiently with some history of the role as well as some details on my day-to-day activities. Thank you to Clive Sherwood, President and the other members for being such friendly and generous hosts. 

Thursday 18th. Loughborough University Graduation ceremonies

Today we attended two graduation ceremonies at Loughborough University. Both were splendid occasions involving 600 students, at least as many family supporters and a wonderful procession of academics in colouful gowns and me ! The ceremonies included great encouraging and congratulatory speeches from both the Chancellor, Lord Sebastian Coe and the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Allison. 

Loughborough University has a number of accolades including a Gold in Teaching Excellence Framework and has been named University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019. 

Wed 17th  Lions Club meeting with talk from Cyber Protect Officer, Leics Police.

Pleasure to join a Rutland Lions meeting tonight and hear their speaker Samantha Hancock, Cyber Protect Officer from Leics Police. She talked to us about ways to stay safe when using phones, laptops etc…..surprising some of us on the settings that need to be adjusted to protect oneself. Really worth checking this out ! Are you aware of Rutland Neighbourhood Watch? It has been in existence for many years using traditionally tried and tested methods of crime prevention for towns and villages in Rutland. Check out their website and/or smartphone App.  The latter is the latest initiative from Rutland Neighbourhood Watch and is unique as the first community App of its kind in the UK. Many thanks to the Lions for welcoming us so warmly to their meeting. 

Wed 17th.  De Montfort University, Leicester Graduation Ceremony

Real privilege to be part of the Graduation ceremony at De Montfort University, Leicester today.  Students from the faculty of Business and Law received their degrees in a wonderfully effervescent and musical ceremony, led by Dr Simon Oldroyd (Interim Deputy Vice-Chancellor) and supported by an array of academics in vibrantly coloured university gowns. Great to know that DMU was awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework. During a lunch prior to the ceremony we were delighted to meet Prof Andy Collop (Interim Vice-Chancellor) and the Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE (Chancellor of DMU). We were able to learn more about the recently opened Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, which  aims to drive forward conversations that will shape and influence how we think about race and social justice. It intends to honour the enduring legacy of Stephen Lawrence’s life and his family’s ongoing pursuit of justice by asking new questions, debating critical issues, raising awareness, and advocating to bring about positive change.

Friday 12th July. Meeting with PC Joshua Ace, Uppingham Police

Had a very interesting  meeting with PC Joshua Ace who has been part of the local policing team for Upppingham for just over two years.  It was good to learn about the policing methods required and used in the area and the particular challenges that our Police face daily. Great to know that our police are very familiar with the area and the issues and address these with enthusiasm and real dedication. Looking forward to joining Joshua on a patrol next month in Uppingham. 

Friday 12th July. Citizens Advice Bureau , Oakham

Great to meet with Simon Mutsaars, Chief Exceutive of CAB in Rutland and hear about the really helpful services offered by CAB and to learn of their challenges. A team of 9 paid staff and 35 volunteers work hard to run this service which offers free, confidential advice to anyone. They help people find a way forward with their problems and campaign on big issues when their voices need to be heard. They work hard to improve the wellbeing of those in our community. Further details can be seen here on their website. 

Thursday 11th. Visit to Warning Zone

Over 25 volunteers were hosting two schools on their year 6 visit to Warning Zone today. The pupils were fully engaged throughout their visit which explored and evaluated the ‘safety issues’ that these young people may encounter in their lives. They include the risks in the home, on the streets, near water, railways and roads, as well as the many and varied ‘risks’ that they can meet on-line. There is much information for these pupils to take in during their visit , but quizes during and after the visit show that most of their learning is retained. Many thanks to Helen Oliver (CEO) and all her volunteers for their enthusiuiasm and dedictaion in making these visits so enjoyable yet informative for our young people. New volunteers are always welome – please contact WZ if you would like to consider this.

Wednesday 10th School Sports Awards evening at Greetham Valley

This evening it was a real pleasure to attend  the School Sports Awards at Greetham Valley . Many of our young people across Rutland received awards that recognised and rewarded their sporting achievements. It is so good to see many involved in a wide range of sports  – it is proven that such activity can improve both physical and mental healthy. Additionally we know that sports activities are fun, social, build confidence and leadership qualities. A well-organised evening enjoyed by over 250 people – thanks to all the schools, teachers and staff at Active Rutland who support these youngsters with amazing energy and enthusiasm.

Wednesday 10th July Uppingham in Bloom judging day

Today judging took place in Uppingham for the Best Small Town in East Midlands in Bloom competition. The town looked beautiful with a range of floral displays, created by a small very hard-working team from the Uppingham in Bloom committee, ably led by Miranda Jones. A splendid lunch took place in the cricket ground pavilion, where it was a real pleasure to meet the judges, gardeners , bakers and many other supporters. The mayor of Uppingham spoke of his pride in the floral displays in the town and reminded us that they were there for both tourists and residents to enjoy. I send many congratulations to all involved for making the town look so splendid and wish them well in the competition. 

Monday 8th July. Mothers’ Union Prayer Pilgrimage

It was a real treat this morning to arrive at Peterborough Cathedral and to meet  up with Jill Cannings, Diocesan President of the Mother’s Union.  Jill has organised and is leading a Prayer Pilgrimage that started this morning and covers 70 km over the next two weeks. The day started with coffee and cake in the cathedral along with Tim Alban Jones (Chaplain to the Bishop of Peterborough and Vice Dean), three ordinants, fellow walkers and supporters. After a few prayers and words to ‘wish them well’, the walkers set off for Longthorpe, New England, Paston and Werrington today – I suspect they may enjoy more cake and coffee on their travels. I wish them all well on this exciting venture that will take them across many parts of the diocese. As Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union, Jill is responsible for supporting 800 members in 45 branches across our Dioceses. If you wish to sponsor Jill or find out more about her travels then use this link : www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jill-cannings6. The Mothers’ Union helps to support families around the world, with members in 84 countries – see their webiste here.  How do the cathedral Gardners keep such stunning hydrangeas ?

Sunday 7th July High Sheriff of Bedfordshire’s Garden Party

Spent a delightful fternoon at a Garden Party hosted by the High Sheriff of Bedfordhsire , Mrs Meryl Dolling. The Mansion House and Wrest Park (owned by English Heritage) made a wonderful setting for this social occasion. We enjoyed meeting other High Sheriffs and their consorts, the Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire and his wife and  the Chair of Bedfordshire County Priory Group amongst others. It is a great way to learn of the work and challenges managed by people in different roles and in different counties. 

Thursday 4th July. Osprey cruise on Rutland Water

 Tonight we enjoyed a second cruise on Rutland Water  – spotting Osprey and supporting the charity Warning Zone. (See Tuesday details). Once again we were well looked after by the Rutland Belle crew , who safely toured us around the calm waters in even warmer temperatures than Tuesday. And a big thank you to the team of past Rutland High Sheriffs , ably led by Elizabeth Mills, who for the tenth year, created the most exquiuste canapes for the evening .  Warning Zone are always looking for adult volunteers – please take a look here.

Thursday 4th July Oakham in Bloom

Today the East Midland’s in Bloom  judges were taken on a tour around Oakham to view the Oakham in Bloom sites. All the flowers and plants would have looked ‘at their best’ in the glorious sunshine today.  It was a pleasure to meet the two judges (who spend all week visiting different towns) and others from Rutland, whilst we enjoyed some delicious refreshments c/o Oakham WI. Do take time to look around Oakham and enjoy the wonderful floral displays created by Oakham in Bloom. Many congratulations to all the volunteers at Oakham in Bloom for their continual hard work – ably led by Joyce Lucas BEM (pictured on left with one of the judges and Bob Lucas). Also many thanks to the WI for their wonderful ‘light refreshments’  in the Castle– see picture !   Volunteers for Oakham in Bloom always welcome! We wish them every success with their quest for Gold in the competition – but whatever the result, we are very fortunate to be able to enjoy the floral delights all around Rutland.

Wednesday 3rd. RAF Wittering

This evening I attended a Civic Supper at RAF Wittering, hosted by Group Captain Tony Keeling OBE. It was a real pleasure to meet so many RAF personnel and hear about their work and the ways in which young people be involved with the  RAF before ‘signing up’. The station is home to the A4 Force (the RAF engineering and logistics Air Contact Service Support Units) and is also a major station for flying training. Around 1,400 Service, civilian and contractor personnel work at RAF Wittering, although a large number of the Service personnel can be deployed across the globe at any one time. Group Captain Tony Keeling is leaving the base in early August, so it was a great opportunity to meet his successor Jo Lincoln. I wish her all the very best in her new role and look forward to meeting her again.

Wednesday 3rd July. Casterton College

This morning I met with Carl Smith, the Principal of Casterton College. It was great to meet Carl and to learn more about the workings of the college and their expectations for students, staff and parents. The college has achieved some fabulous  results, with students achieving very positive progress figures in all nationally measured categories. According to the National Teaching Awards they have the best Maths department in England. It was a real pleasure to meet a number of the teachers as well as students in their classes. Their curriculum includes all three sciences, regular personal reading slots, as well as plenty music, drama, sport and art& design topics   – with the latter prominently on display in the corridors. Many students take part in Duke of Edinburgh Awards schemes and the National Citizens award – both involve hours of volunteering. Care is taken to ensure that students are taught well and that their varying pastoral needs are met . I really like the saying above the front entrance and around the school: “Dreams can work, if you work.”. Thank you for a very informative visit. 

Tuesday 2nd July. Osprey Cruise on Rutland Water

During the early evening a number of friends gathered on the Rutland Belle, to cruise the Water and spot nesting or fishing Osprey.  We had commentary on the amazing lives of Osprey from Marie of Rutland Water Nature Reserve – currently there are 9 nesting pairs of Ospreys around the Water. Their story of migration at the end of our summer to Spain and West Africa is fascinating. Likewise, the tale of the translocation of  12 six week-old chicks from Scotland to Rutland back in 1996. Definitely worth finding out more about these great birds here. All funds raised tonight go towards Warning Zone – a charity that delivers life-saving messages to children and young people in Leicester and Rutland.  A great evening with generous donations for the drinks and canapes onboard. Many thanks to all for the kind donations, to the crew and others who made the trip possible. 

Monday 1st July. Children knighted in Oakham Castle.

It was a real privilege to be able to knight the young children (aged 6 – 8 years) who, this evening, graduated from Knight School. During their six weekly sessions they learnt a number of skills, as well as focusing on respect, politeness and courtesy. The ceremony was attended by parents, grandparents, uncles & aunts, god parents, siblings, the Lord-Lieutenant, the Mayor and mayoress of Oakham together with 5 trumpeters who performed some wonderful fanfares to greet the new knights. Many thanks to the volunteers (ably led by Janet Berridge)  who ran the weekly sessions and organised the ceremony this evening – their hard work and enthusiasm is greatly appreciated by us all. If you are interested in becoming a knight then please do contact me and I can put you in touch with the relevant organisers. 

Monday 1st July. Visit to Edith Weston Academy

Visiting Edith Weston Academy this morning was a great way to start the week. I took an assembly with the pupils, where we looked at the different roles and associated responsibilities of those ‘in uniform’ such as Police, Fire services, Judges, the Queen, High Sheriff and school pupils. The children were beautifully behaved and wonderfully enthusiastic and curious – terrific life skills!  Mrs Louise Pettman showed me around the school, which if full of colourful and purposeful displays for learning. The school has some strong values and focuses on resilience and nurture for all. Thank you for a really enjoyable and fun visit today.