Prominent Sunderland citizen to become High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear

Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray outside the old Fire Station in Dun Cow Street.
Paul Callaghan and John Mowbray outside the old Fire Station in Dun Cow Street.
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Influential city figure John Mowbray will be given one of the oldest titles in the country this week.

The former businessman, who’s helping to lead the emergence of Sunderland’s Cultural Quarter, will be installed as the High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear on Thursday at the National Glass Centre.

An ambassador for the City of Sunderland, the dad-of-two, from Fulwell, insisted the ceremony take place in his home city.

“It’s a great honour to be asked to take on the position,” he explained. “There hasn’t been a High Sheriff from Sunderland for a while and it was very important to me that the ceremony take place in Sunderland.

“I couldn’t think of anywhere better than the National Glass Centre, just a couple of miles from where I was born and live.

“My grandfather worked on the shipyards, so this area holds particular importance to me.”

After retiring from Northumbrian Water in 2012 where he was director of corporate affairs, John has thrown himself into charity and public service.

Among the most high profile of his roles are deputy chairman of the University of Sunderland, co-chairman of the North East Culture Partnership and being a director on Sunderland Mac Trust, which is developing the old fire station in Sunderland centre into a multi-million pound arts and culture space.

Speaking of his new title, which will see him become one of 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales, John said: “The High Sheriff is the oldest secular position next to the Crown and there has been a High Sheriff for more than 1,000 years.

“In times gone past, the role would include collecting taxes, it’s more ceremonial these days with an emphasis on supporting the judiciary.”

Over the course of the year John, who was awarded an OBE for services to the water industry and charity in 2012, will be leading fundraising and has chosen to use the role to help boost literacy in North East schools.