High Sheriff Hugh Trevor-Jones

PUBLISHED: 11:48 25 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:26 20 February 2013

The High Sheriff on one of his first engagements, visiting Ellesmere College, where he presented Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards to a group of pupils

The High Sheriff on one of his first engagements, visiting Ellesmere College, where he presented Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh awards to a group of pupils

The role of High Sheriff of Shropshire may be an ancient one, but Hugh Trevor-Jones is determined to make it relevant during his year in office, as he told Rachel Crow

A High Sheriff for todays world

The role of High Sheriff of Shropshire may be an ancient one, but Hugh Trevor-Jones is determined to make it relevant during his year in office, as he told Rachel Crow

The duty of High Sheriff, in existence for more than a thousand years, is to act as The Sovereigns representative for all matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order. Over the centuries these tasks have been vested in the courts and local authorities, leaving the High Sheriff with, principally, a symbolic and civic function. Yet the position provides a tangible link between past and present, says Hugh Trevor-Jones who was appointed by The Queen as High Sheriff of Shropshire in April.

The fact that the role continues today, albeit in a modified form, is a tradition to be proud of. In our world of so much change and uncertainty we need to preserve those things which represent stability and continuity and our history, and I believe that this is a strong aspect of the role.
One of Hughs duties, barely a month after being installed, was to announce the result of the countys parliamentary elections in May, in his role as the Returning Officer. As a volunteer it is up to me what I do in the role and I think that is the main attraction of the post, he says. You can interpret it as you wish and choose what you do. I think if at all possible I should exercise those ancient rights Ive got.

Each High Sheriff, during his or her year in office, can choose a particular area to promote, in addition to their support of law enforcement bodies, and Hugh is focusing on schemes that help prevent vulnerable children and young people falling into the criminal justice system.

Ive got four children myself, ageing from 16 to 23, so I have a reasonable understanding of young people and some of the issues facing them. They are our future and I strongly believe if we can just do better for our youngsters, support them from an early age and encourage them a bit we can greatly improve their prospects. We both feel very strongly about the importance of family and giving children a sense of structure.
The we is reference to his wife, Carolyn, known as Roly, his right hand woman who will be supporting him during his year in office, organising his diary and shrieval events. The decision to accept the honour of the role was one they took together. It impacts on both our lives and I cant possibly do this without substantial support from Roly, adds Hugh.

We sit chatting in their home in Oldbury near Bridgnorth with beautiful views across to the Wrekin. They moved here in 2003 when they needed more space for their growing family, their interests and pets, after spending the previous 17 years in Much Wenlock. They retain strong links with the town, which they hope to return to once the last of their children has flown the nest. It was in Much Wenlocks Guildhall that Hugh was installed as High Sheriff.

Shropshire born and bred, Hugh, 53, grew up at the family home of Caynton Hall near Shifnal, later moving to Preen Manor near Church Stretton where his mother Ann still lives. Educated at Harrow and Southampton, he is the fifth generation Chairman of the familys 120 year old international lock systems manufacturing group, Lowe & Fletcher, which has its HQ in Bridgnorth and a factory at Telford.

He is a past Governor of Packwood Haugh prep and current Governor of Shrewsbury School, while Roly is a long-standing supporter of Much Wenlock Festival and fundraiser for Hope House Childrens Hospice. But their other community involvement will take a back seat this year while they concentrate on Hughs duties as High Sheriff.

Nominated for the role four years ago, Hugh has had plenty of time to consider what he wanted to do and achieve in his year in office. One was to give people across the county a better understanding of what the High Sheriff does, so together with Roly, who has a background in PR, has created a leaflet and a website.

Its important to highlight the relevance of the role today. When dressed in his official attire for formal and ceremonial occasions of 18th century style black velvet suit with breeches and tights, some may query what function such traditions play.

When Hugh was asked to be High Sheriff we thought it a great honour but didnt really know much about it and its difficult to know where to look, so weve tried to give information without being too complicated, explains Roly.

While its a challenge to combine the role with his business responsibilities, Hugh wants to demonstrate it can be done. Then that opens the office to a wider field. Im a relatively young High Sheriff and I really do feel things like these positions need to be held by a great cross-section of society and if you limit it to people who arent working it would be a shame. My colleagues at work have been very supportive.
While Hugh can no longer raise the hue and cry in pursuit of criminals and keep the Kings Peace by mobilising the full military might of the county, he can help promote matters relating to law and order in far more subtle ways. Hugh and Roly are organising shrieval lunch parties, to get some of the movers and doers of the county together in one room.

The High Sheriff is a volunteer, is apolitical and independent, so in a very good position to pull all sorts of people together to meet and talk and if good things can come from that in promoting schemes to engage young people, or put somebody together with somebody else or make something happen, I feel I will have succeeded, he says.

Ive been lucky in life and its nice to do something for Shropshire which Ive had a lifetime attachment to.


My Shropshire Life
Hugh Trevor-Jones

What do you think is the best thing about Shropshire?
Its my home, but also the quality of life and the space for people, space for life, space for doing things.

And worst?
We enjoy immensely our sailing, and of course we are miles from the sea!

What attitude best sums up Shropshire
I think Shropshire people are well-balanced and unusually supportive; they have time and tolerance. The great British tradition of helping each other is very much alive and well in Shropshire.

Whats the most underrated thing about the county?
The quality of life, more from outsiders than those living within the county, but I think sometimes people dont appreciate how lucky they are until they move away and come back again.

To whom should there be a Shropshire memorial and why?
Dr. William Penny Brookes (a surgeon, magistrate, botanist, and educationalist who founded the Wenlock Olympian Society, in 1860). He was a great benefactor in the town and very enlightened and believed in engaging young people and developing their sporting skills. Baron Pierre de Coubertin (founder of the International Olympic Committee) visited Much Wenlock to learn from Dr Brookes.

Which local charities do you support?
Ive supported Roly in her fundraising for Hope House Hospice for many years. She became involved after our eldest son, Edward was very ill as a baby with a liver condition. Luckily he got better but surrounded in Birmingham Childrens Hospital by very ill children you realise how desperate the situation is for some families. We became aware of the work of the hospice and realised the importance of giving respite help for the family, We will also be doing a sponsored cycle for Severn Hospice later in the year, but theres always so much charitable work going on in Shropshire we will engage with those we come across as we go along and try to help.

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