This morning at Leicester Cathedral a service to mark the outgoing High Sheriff of Leicestershire Resham Singh Sandhu’s time in office took place. The service was followed by the High Sheriff’s Awards Ceremony at the city’s historic Guildhall where the role of High Sheriff was handed over to Richard Brooks.
The role of High Sheriff is a non-political Royal appointment and is one of the oldest secular offices under the Crown dating back over 1000 years to Saxon Britain. In the Saxon era High Sheriffs were responsible to the reigning monarch for the maintenance of law and order within the county.
Today the powers and responsibilities of the office of High Sheriff are somewhat diminished to a more ceremonial role. However, the High Sheriff continues to lend support to the Judiciary, emergency services, police and other law enforcement agencies. It is also the responsibility of a High Sheriff to ensure the welfare of visiting High Court Judges and to attend court when they are present.
Addressing the congregation at the service at Leicester Cathedral the Bishop of Leicester Tim Stevens gave thanks to Resham Singh Sandhu MBE DL for his public service over the last 12 months. As the first Sikh to hold the office of High Sheriff of Leicestershire Bishop Tim acknowledged that the “shared values of tolerance and human dignity” are an important part of both faiths.
Mr Singh Sandhu is a former chairman of the Leicester Council of Faith and came to Britain 39 years ago from the Punjab, India. He was awarded the MBE in 2002.
Following the service Mr Singh Sandhu said
Today’s service contained the message that just as Christ sacrificed his life for the world then we must do as much as we can for the good of humanity. I have had an extremely busy year as High Sheriff and met so many wonderful people over that period. I have done a lot to raise funds for charity. The highlight of the year was the Queen’s visit to Leicester. I had the great honour of being the first person to receive her.
Mr Singh Sandhu went on to acknowledge the importance of being the first Sikh to be appointed to the position of High Sheriff.
Being the first Sikh to hold the office of High Sheriff of Leicestershire displays that Britain is truly a multicultural country and that a person’s gender, colour or creed does not stand in the way of them being able to achieve a high status position in public life.
During the Awards Ceremony at the Guildhall Resham Singh Sandhu presented awards to local individuals in the areas of Community Cohesion, Crime Prevention, Charitable Causes and the Voluntary Sector. Amongst the individuals receiving were Pukaar News Editor Romail Gulzar, Chief Police Superintendent Rob Nixon, Chief Constable of Leicestershire Simon Cole and Leicester Mercury Publisher David Simms.
During his acceptance speech Robert Brooks described his predecessor Resham Singh Sandhu as an “absolute inspiration to the county.” He went to say that he was “relishing the amazing opportunity that had been bestowed upon him, especially in a year which includes both the Diamond Jubilee and London Olympics.”
Mr Brooks’ connection with the role of High Sheriff include his father Timothy, who was appointed to the position in 1979,two former residents of his family home Wistow Hall also held the office of High Sheriff: Sir Henry Halford in 1872 and Richard Halford in 1622.
For more information on the High Sheriff of Leicestershire please visit: www.leics.gov.uk