The owner of Doddington Hall in Lincoln has been appointed as the new High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.
Claire Birch, who has lived at Doddington Hall with her husband James since 2006, made her declaration in a small turnover ceremony in the gardens of her home on Sunday, April 18. The declaration was witnessed by The Hon. Mr Justice Hildyard and Claire appointed solicitor Michael Pace as Undersheriff.
The Office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year. Claire will take over the role from Michael Scott, who has held the title since April last year.
High Sheriffs support the judiciary, emergency services and crime prevention and the role dates back to the 12th century, as well as being the oldest royal appointment still in existence.
In recent times, the role has expanded into a broader one of encouraging, supporting and thanking the voluntary sector, especially organisations working with people at risk of offending and the victims of crime.
Claire said: “It is a huge honour to be High Sheriff for Lincolnshire. I would like to thank Michael for all his wise words and support, in spite of lockdowns he has managed to make dozens of High Sheriff Awards in recent weeks.
“I know that the last 12 months have been incredibly challenging for so many people and community organisations, and I think that one of the most important tasks for me this year is to seek out and thank all the incredible unsung heroes who have helped so many during the pandemic.
“During the last 12 months we have witnessed first-hand at Doddington how important access to green spaces is for mental and physical health and I am particularly interested in supporting organisations working outdoors, with nature to build resilience, opportunities and wellbeing for people in Lincolnshire.”
Outgoing High Sheriff Michael Scott said: “Although the year has a been a disappointment, with very few of the normal official functions being able to take place, contacts with the Police, the Judiciary, the Prison and Probation Service, the Fire and Rescue Service and others have demonstrated how well served we are by the amazing commitment of those charged with keeping us safe.
“Everyone has gone the extra mile in the most difficult of circumstances. I have been very fortunate in the final few weeks of my term in office to have been able to make my High Sheriff’s Awards in person to people who have served their communities, looked after the less fortunate and generally demonstrated why it is that our great county of Lincolnshire functions so effectively through the efforts of these unsung heroes”.
Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year.