On Monday 15th March, James Friend made his declaration and was sworn in as High Sheriff of Staffordshire in a virtual ceremony in the presence of The Hon. Mr Justice Spencer.
Among those present on-line were the Lord Lieutenant, Ian Dudson, the outgoing High Sheriff, Commander Charles Bagot Jewitt RN, the Recorder of Stafford, Her Honour Judge Kristina Montgomery QC, His Honour Judge Gosling, The Under Sheriff, Amy Glover, the Chaplain to the new High Sheriff, The Revd. Prebendary Gerald Gardiner and the Chaplain to the outgoing High Sheriff, The Revd. Simon Davis.
The High Sheriff’s role can be summarised as follows:
- To lend active support to the principal organs of the Constitution within their county – the Royal Family, the Judiciary, the Police and other law-enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities, and all recognised church and faith groups.
- To ensure the welfare of visiting High Court Judges; to attend on them at Court and to offer them hospitality.
- To support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits and on other occasions as appropriate.
- To take an active part in supporting and promoting voluntary organisations within the County.
- To uphold and enhance the ancient Office of High Sheriff and to make a meaningful contribution to the High Sheriff’s County during the year of Office.
James Friend said:
“I must first pay tribute to my predecessor, Charlie, who found himself taking office a year ago at the outset of the first national Covid lockdown, and his year in office has been on/off lockdown throughout. He has adapted masterfully to these unprecedented circumstances, and brought our 1000 year old office into the Zoom age.
I will endeavour to continue this through my year in office as this country, and the wider world, continues to battle the Corona Virus pandemic and, we hope, emerges into a new era where the virus ceases to be the devastating threat to life it has been over the past year. Staffordshire has seen much loss of life, and many have lost their livelihoods. Families have been kept apart and education badly disrupted. But we have much to look forward to in the year ahead, with the hope of lockdown being eased gradually over the spring, and the promise of summer freedoms to come.
My hope is that before too long I will be able to go about in person, the length and breadth of our fantastic county, rather than purely online, and do whatever I can to support the Legal Services and the amazing emergency services and voluntary groups in Staffordshire, whose invaluable work has been high-lighted during the pandemic as never before.