David Stacey, High Sheriff of Shropshire 2015-16

I am delighted and grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve as High Sheriff of Shropshire having received the Warrant of Appointment from the Privy Council. I have made my Declaration in the presence of Mr Timothy Cooke JP at the High Sheriff’s Installation Ceremony held in my local parish church, Holy Trinity Church, Hope, on 27th March 2015.

The High Sheriff is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to represent Her in the County of Shropshire in matters relating to law and order. Since its inception nearly 1000 years ago, the role has changed considerably.

I am fortunate to have lived in a particularly beautiful part of this beautiful county for over 30 years – my home in Hope looks out onto the Stiperstones and the Devil’s Chair on one side and the Shropshire plain on the other. I have been variously a Chartered Surveyor, film producer, yogurt salesman, farmer, and writer. I am married to Annabel and have two children who are now young adults.

In my year of office, I look forward to being involved with, and offering support, to the Police, Judges, Magistrates, Coroners, the Prison and Probation Services, the emergency services and all branches of the Armed Forces. I look forward to gaining a better understanding of the operations and priorities of these vitally important institutions and how they work for Shropshire.

Life expectancy and a changing demographic is the great societal change that our country and our county face. The “opportunity and challenge” of old age will be the particular focus of my year in office. There is never going to be enough money for health and social care and, whilst I believe that some very positive initiatives are starting to emerge, the burden will increasingly fall on families, friends and voluntary bodies. I will be supporting Age UK, a charity who do great work in this area and who need our support. I will be a cheerleader for existing volunteers, I will be a noisy advocate for volunteering in general – which research has shown increases both your quality of life and your life expectancy – and I will encourage people to support the work of Age UK financially.

I am greatly looking forward to serving my county and am grateful for the support of my Under Sheriff and Chaplain as well as previous High Sheriffs for their advice and wise counsel.

River Severn Shrewsbury – The Severn Mile Swim

The High Sheriff and his wife Annabel before the race.

The High Sheriff and his wife Annabel before the race.

Shrewsbury owes its very existence to the River Severn, the river is an integral part of the town and it is becoming cleaner every year as the arrival of otters illustrates and it’s great to see lots of people swimming in it again.

The decision to enter this race was not made lightly, Annabel and I decided that if we were going to do it we wanted to do well.  An intensive mile a day training regime in the ten days leading up to the big day gave us every reason to be hopeful of a strong showing in this mile long swim through the centre of Shrewsbury – who were we kidding?   One hundred and forty outdoor swimming enthusiasts leapt into the river at the Welsh Bridge, swam down to the Kingsland Toll Bridge, rounded an orange space hopper buoy and then headed back upstream to the Pengwern Boathouse.    ONLY sixteen minutes and sixteen seconds later  Les Church was the first man home,  the incredible Sophie Whittingham (17 mins 29 seconds) was the first woman back, Caroline Saxon (19mins 55 seconds) and Andrew Lyle (18 mins 53 seconds) won prizes for the fastest swims without wet suits and Sian Conlon saw off twenty one others to win the 700m race.  The age defying sixty-eight year old Bernard Wills,  the chairman of the Shrewsbury Master Swimming Club and campaigner for the Quarry Pool in Shrewsbury, made it home in twenty one minutes but then he had been an Olympic swimmer.

The High Sheriff, in wetsuit,  presents Caroline Saxon with the prize for being the fastest woman without a wetsuit.

The High Sheriff, in wetsuit, presents Caroline Saxon with the prize for being the fastest woman without a wetsuit.

You want to know how we got on – well I’ll tell you – I struggled home thirteen minutes behind the winner in 29mins 56 seconds putting me 103 out of 115 and Annabel, the only one tackling the long course who I saw doing breaststroke, gallantly battled home in a time of 38mins 40 secs to proudly finish in last place. We were both very proud of our achievements because this, as it turned out, was a gathering of pretty serious swimmers (but you don’t have to be one and you will be made very welcome even if you just want to take part). We will be back and we will do better.

Congratulations to all the organisers for a great event and thank you for the opportunity to present the prizes.  See you next year.