For the next year, it’s my privilege to be High Sheriff of Powys, and I’m grateful to the B&R for giving me some space each month to tell you what I’m doing because I imagine most readers have as little idea about High Sheriffs as I used to have. 

There have been High Sheriffs in England since Saxon times – they started later in Wales – and each county has one, appointed by the King for a one-year term. In Powys, the appointment has traditionally rotated between the three old counties of Breconshire, Radnorshire and Montgomeryshire. I live in Breconshire, and my brilliant predecessor, Reg Cawthorne lives in Radnorshire. My equally brilliant successor, Sally Roberts, is from Montgomeryshire.

High Sheriffs used to have significant legal responsibilities, but nowadays they have very few formal functions, but they are expected to support the justice system, the emergency services and the volunteer sector in their county. 

I am really looking forward to doing that. I have been a magistrate for almost 30 years, and I was a County Councillor for 18 years.  I know that Powys contains strong communities and that Powys people are multi-talented, resilient and self-reliant.

But Powys also contains pockets of deprivation and poverty, problems of drug misuse, depression caused by isolation, uncertainty about future rural income, increasingly stretched resources, and an ageing population. It is not for everyone the rural idyll that is sometimes imagined by those who do not live here.

The statutory services like the Dyfed-Powys Police, Powys County Council, the NHS and the Fire and Rescue Service work tirelessly to improve the lives of the people of Powys. That is also the commitment of many great voluntary organisations, charities and faith groups around the county.

In the year ahead I hope to work with all of these, particularly focussing on combatting domestic abuse. I will be saying more about that in my next column.

For now, if you want me to get involved with anything being done in your community, please email me [email protected].

You can also follow me on my Facebook page High Sheriff of Powys, or on X (formerly Twitter) @USPowysHS