A MAIDS Moreton woman has won a place in history as the new High Sheriff for Bucks.
Last Saturday, Carolyn Cumming attended a tradition-packed nomination ceremony at London’s Royal Courts of Justice.
Mrs Cumming will take office next year as one of the latest holders of the oldest continuous secular office under the Crown in Britain.
She told the Advertiser: “It’s an honour to be asked and I’m aware of its long historical background. It’s a chance to find out wheat’s going on in your county and perhaps bring to the public’s attention all the good works going on underneath the surface.”
In one of the most ancient official ceremonies still practised in this country, dating back more than 1,000 years to Saxon times, judges and court officials gathered at the Royal Courts of Justice to preside over the formal nomination of 51 High Sheriffs and their deputies from all over England and Wales, before the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge.
In Saxon times, sheriffs – or Shire Reeves as they were originally known – of each county went to the king’s or queen’s court, known in Latin as the ‘curia regis’, to account for the money they collected on behalf of the monarch.
Now, High Sheriffs no longer collect money for the monarch, but their annual attendance at court has continued.
Though the role goes unpaid, High Sheriffs rank among top dignitaries in their areas. They are expected to attend at royal visits to their counties, as well as being entitled to act as returning officers in parliamentary elections.
They also have a responsibility for the wellbeing and protection of High Court Judges when on circuit in the county and for the maintenance of the loyalty of subjects to the Crown, though in practice these responsibilities are delegated to the Chief Constable of Police.
Mrs Cumming said: “You don’t get a lot of training – you’re in at the deep end. The office puts you in touch with previous High Sheriffs, but it’s very much an individual way of handling the office.
“One of my areas of focus will be the importance of parenthood. It’s the most important job in the world and it often goes unremarked.”
Before taking up office next March, Mrs Cumming will take part in another ancient ceremony, at the Privy Council in London, where the Queen uses a silver bodkin to prick their names on a parchment list to give their appointments the Royal seal of approval.
Mrs Cumming, who was nominated for the office by previous High Sheriff Peter Thorogood, who lives in Buckingham.
She has been vice-chair the Buckingham Society for many years and in that capacity is a co-opted member of Buckingham Town Council’s planning committee.
She is also passionate about the arts and has been very involved with The Film Place, although she says these interests will have to take a back seat during her year in office as High Sheriff.