James Bagge on his new role as High Sheriff of Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 09:50 05 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:17 05 December 2016
James Bagge’s high-flying career has taken him all around the world, but he retains his “love affair” with Norfolk.
Born and bred in the county, his favourite school days were spent at Crimplesham.
He said his teacher there, a Mrs Hodgson, he’s not sure of her first name, as he never called her by it, was the best teacher he had.
And while his career in the army and then later as a solicitor took him around the world, his heart remained in Norfolk.
And that’s why he’s back in the county now, living with wife Victoria, at the home on the Stradsett estate they acquired about 26 years ago.
And he’s keen to pay something back to the county when he becomes the next high sheriff of Norfolk next year.
His father, the late Sir John Bagge and his older brother, Sir Jeremy Bagge are both former county high sheriffs.
Being the second son, after Sir Jeremy, meant he had to go out and earn a living, and he subsequently spent a great deal of time away from the county.
Now semi-retired, he’s 64 on Wednesday, December 7, he said: “My love affair with Norfolk is long lasting. Norfolk means a lot to me. I was born and bred here. I have very fond memories of my school days. I was born at Stradsett Hall and went to Crimplesham school from the ages of five to eight. “Mrs Hodgson, who now lives in Fincham, was my favourite teacher.
“I have also recently joined Ryston golf club, where I bumped into at least two of my old schoolmates, who remembered me.
“And I still do the Norfolk dialect, when I need to, thanks to those days.
“Aged eight I was sent away to a boarding school in Berkshire where I had to improve my accent. I stayed there until I was 18.
“I spent a while in Canada at a sixth form college. That was when I might have slightly parted company with Norfolk, but during my school holidays I had always spent holidays in the county. We had wonderful family holidays in Stradsett, working on the farm and enjoying ourselves.”
After a gap year in Berlin, including time at a travel agency, he served three years in the Blues and Royals, one of the two Household Cavalry regiments, being stationed in Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
He added: “I managed to be seconded as aide-de-camp to Sir Mark Oliphant, the nuclear physicist and governor of South Australia. He had been one of two British scientists involved in the Manhattan project to build the first atomic bomb.
“That was a wonderful experience, and then I returned to the UK, to take my bar exams. I was called to the Bar in 1979.
“I was a barrister in criminal law chambers for eight years. I was then seconded to a new government office, the Serious Fraud Office, which opened in 1988.
“I was a partner in a team that prosecuted the Guinness case.
“I planned to return to my criminal chambers after that, but I was ambushed by an international firm of lawyers, Norton Rose. I became a partner and the global head of litigation.
“One of the high profile cases I dealt with was the collapse of Barings Bank. We also investigated enquiries into Equitable Life.”
After leaving, he did consultancy work for the Irish central bank in Dublin. He now runs a business with one partner checking the effectiveness of boards of directors.
He has one daughter, Edwina, with wife Victoria, but no grandchildren.
And while he may be semi-retired, he still has plenty of irons in the fire, including becoming the next high sheriff.
He added: “It’s about 40 years since my father was high sheriff and about 14 years since Jeremy was.
“I feel privileged and thrilled to be able to make a contribution to this wonderful country, where I was born, bred and educated a bit.
“The main message about being high sheriff from Jeremy is to do it your own way, which is one of the attractive parts of the appointment.
“I’m very proud of what my brother and my father before him did for the county, particularly west Norfolk, and I hope I do as well.
“I’m very keen this year to shine a light on those people who give of themselves to help others.”
He will take over as high sheriff from Major General Sir William Cubitt, with the handover date set for April 3.
His wife said: “I think he will do a wonderful job. He was born and bred in Norfolk and has always been devoted to the county.”
His primary focus as high sheriff will be supporting the judiciary service, he said. He will also be expected to attend at royal visits to the county. The role of high sheriff dates back more than 1000 years to Saxon times.