Fascinating year for outgoing High Sheriff of Rutland

On parade with the Rutland Cadets.
On parade with the Rutland Cadets.
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In spite of undertaking more than 200 engagements over the past year, Trish Ruddle describes her time as High Sheriff of Rutland as the “most fascinating and fulfilling” role.

“It’s 365 days and almost every day,” said the former children’s speech and language therapist. “If you are not going out on a fact finding mission, you are working from home. But I have loved every minute of it.”

The remit today of the ancient role involves supporting the police and other emergency services, providing encouragement to public sector agencies including the probation and prison services and the voluntary sector organisations involved in crime reduction and social cohesion.

As the county has no magistrates or crown courts, for any High Sheriff of Rutland the role of providing support for her Majesty’s judges means attending ceremonies and events across the Midlands Courts Circuit in Loughborough, Leicester and Birmingham where the courts that cover the Rutland catchment sit.

Presenting awards to volunteers and attending events for armed forces cadets, Brownies and Scouts were also among the various facets of the community work that Mrs Ruddle, of Langham, threw herself into wholeheartedly.

In addition High Sheriffs, who are chosen from within the county, usually have a track record of raising funds for good causes. In the past year, the former secretary of Macmillian Cancer Support’s fund-raising committee, rose to the challenge with aplomb, raising more than £50,000 for her chosen charity Warning Zone.

The charity’s aim is to teach youngsters about the consequences of their actions. That includes making them aware of the dangers of fires, building sites, drinking excess alcohol, drugs-taking and criminal actions, taught through interactive learning where children are shown with real-life scenarios in a simulated environment.

Mrs Ruddle said: “Warning Zone is a charity that is close to my heart. It educates young people to stay safe, live confident lives and be aware of the consequences of their actions.”

Rutland Sailability, the charity which helps disabled people experience a sense of freedom through sailing, is also among the many good causes that Mrs Ruddle has championed during her term in the historic post that goes back more than 1,000 years when the Royal appointee’s role included collecting revenues and enforcing law and order in the county.

It is the oldest Royal appointment. with the origins of the office of High Sheriff dating back to Saxon times.

While their predecessors collected taxes for the sovereign and maintained law and order, those remits changed when the exchequer was established, along with the Coroners and Justices of peace and the post of Lord Lieutenant.

Their role now is more centred on crime prevention, including supporting the emergency services, probation and prison services, acting as Returning Officers for Parliamentary elections in some areas, and promoting voluntary organisations in the county.

Mrs Ruddle said: “What I’ve tried to do is make the role fun and modern, while still maintaining the historic significance and making it more relevant to society today.”

There are 55 High Sheriffs in England and Wales today, who are chosen, three years prior to taking office, by the incumbent along with a panel that includes the Lord Lieutenant and a judge.

At a November ceremony in the Royal Courts of Justice, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, the Queen’s Remembrancer confirms the nomination.

In March of the year when they take up the role, the Queen Picks with a Bodkin - selects - the new post holder.

And at a ceremony in April the new High Sheriff is sworn in and takes charge of the office for the next 12 months.

Mrs Ruddle, who is married to Tony, ex-chairman of the former Ruddles Brewery, in Langham, and an ardent fund-raiser for good causes, said: “It has been a huge privilege. I’ve learned so much about Rutland, about the many organisations in the county and met so many inspirational people.

“I also learned how dedicated the people are who volunteer their time freely are.

“ Seeing the huge amount of satisfaction that they get from helping people is a really good lesson for all of us.”

The new High Sheriff of Rutland Air Commodore Miles Williamson Noble of Pickworth will take over the reins of office at a ceremony in Oakham Castle, today, when he will declare his intention to ‘take custom and charge of the county in accordance with the 1887 Sheriffs Act’.

* Pictures and details of the ceremony will be in next week’s Rutland Times