A NEWLY sworn-in High Sheriff has pledged to champion a crime-fighting charity and unsung community heroes during his year in office.
Castle Eden farmer Roger Howell was officially made High Sheriff of Durham at a ceremony held at the city’s crown court.
The High Sheriff, an office which dates back to Saxon times, once saw those in the post take responsibility to maintain law and order on behalf of the king and collect taxes for the Crown.
In Durham, part of his job was to also protect the area from invading Scots.
Today, the 55 people who take on the voluntary post across the country attend Royal visits and support and entertain Her Majesty’s High Court Judges when on Circuit.
They also offer their backing to the emergency services and encouragement to those who work to reduce crime and increase involvement in their communities.
Mr Howell, 58, who lives at Sheraton Farm, is originally from South Africa and met his wife Margaret, 57, while they were at university in Cambridge.
During his legal career, he worked at Hartlepool solicitors Smith and Graham, which also has an office in Peterlee.
Before moving to England, he completed his national service, worked for attorneys in Johannesburg and was admitted as an advocate at the Supreme Court of South Africa.
Mr Howell, father to James, 29, and Alexandra, 26, said: “I think the main aim is to go around Durham and find out what good things are being done by people and are not being recognised and give some encouragement and speak up for what they do.
“One of the many other things will be to support the Durham Agency Against Crime (DAAC), which does a terrific job and encourages young people. I also hope to see a lot of Durham.”
Judge Christopher Prince, the Honorary Judicial Recorder of Durham, who led the ceremony, said he was “delighted to hear” Mr Howell would be supporting DAAC and welcomed him to his year in office.
Retiring High Sheriff Bernard Robinson added his praise to DAAC, which he said did a “tremendous job with very limited funds.”
Mr Howell has chosen Reverend Janet Burbury, who leads the parishes of St Peter’s Elwick and St Mary Magdalen Hart, to be his chaplain.
Anne Elliott will remain as Under Sheriff.