Quiet dignity as new High Sheriff takes up her reins

The county's new High Sheriff officially began her term of office yesterday after a simple but dignified ceremony held deep in the north Norfolk countryside.

In keeping with Norfolk tradition, Georgina Holloway read a declaration and received her badge of office at the home of the retiring High Sheriff.

And so yesterday afternoon's event saw about a dozen guests gather at Charles Barratt's Heydon farmhouse home, near Cawston, to hear Mrs Holloway read aloud the ancient words of acceptance in which she swore allegiance to the Queen and promised to fulfil her duties in a proper fashion.

The declaration, which lasted several minutes, included a pledge: 'to do right to poor as well as to rich', to 'disturb no man's rights' and to 'take nothing whereby the Queen may lose.'

Mrs Holloway, 59, from Whissonsett, near Fakenham, has now taken on the oldest secular office under the Crown, pre-dating the Norman conquest, and is the sovereign's representative in the county, with responsibility for law and order.

At her right hand throughout her year-long tenure will be her husband, Charles, who has just begun his 17th term as Under-Sheriff of Norfolk.

Among guests watching the ceremony was the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson, who also represents the sovereign in the county, in a comparatively-modern role which was created during the reign of Henry VIII.

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Mrs Holloway will perform her first duty as High Sheriff next week when she attends a ceremony at the new multi-million pound pumping station at St Germans, near King's Lynn, on April 20.

And in May she will be in her official uniform to greet two visiting high court judges, and will take part in a special service at St Peter Mancroft Church, in Norwich.

'I'm absolutely thrilled and really honoured to be High Sheriff and will serve Norfolk as best I can,' she said.

Mrs Holloway hopes to use her role to highlight the problems of domestic abuse and help the men, women and children whose lives it blights.

Mr Barratt, 61, said he was looking forward to returning to full-time work after Easter with his stockbroking firm, Barratt and Cooke, based in Norwich. He said: 'I've had a fantastic year and met many marvellous people who have proved to me that Norfolk has been doing the Big Society for many, many years already.'

See Friday's EDP for more about Mrs Holloway and her hopes for the year ahead.

alex.hurrell@archant.co.uk

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