DORSET'S new High Sheriff has been appointed against all odds amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The need for social distancing and isolation was in danger of derailing the declaration ceremony - however incoming High Sheriff George Streatfeild refused to be defeated by the pandemic.

The High Sheriff supports the judiciary and the Crown and actively lends support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector.

In a break from tradition, Mr Streatfeild made his declaration in front of a laptop in the garden of his home in Broadoak, Bridport.

The ceremony for a new High Sheriff requires the presence of the past High Sheriff, the Under Sheriff, a magistrate and the newly appointed Chaplain to the Shrievalty.

Through the wonders of technology, all were brought together and the solemn words were spoken and signatures witnessed via the Zoom video conferencing app.

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent, non-political royal appointment for a single year. The origins of the office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the county, and for the collection and return of taxes owed to the Crown.

Previous declaration ceremonies have been held at Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. This year's event took place on the afternoon of March 27, witnessed by around 30 people who also tuned in via Zoom.

As if to mark the change from tradition, a massive Hercules transporter skimmed over the fields of Denhay Farm at the key moment.

George Streatfeild said: "It is a real privilege to have been chosen to take up this voluntary one year post where I can support those involved in the criminal justice system and highlight the charities who work to support those who are disaffected or struggling in their lives.”

Mr Streatfeild takes up the post from outgoing High Sheriff Philip Henry Warr of Canford Magna, Wimborne.

His role will include rewarding those who show courage in the apprehension of criminal offenders.


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