The latest High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Paul Parsons, was sworn in to office in April.
The High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year.
Paul was born in Lincolnshire and brought up in London. He has been married to Poosie for 35 years and has four children, Alice, Edmund, Isabelle and Louisa. He farms near Towcester, where he and his family have lived for the past 27 years. He was formerly senior partner of Greenwoods Solicitors, an insurance law firm, from which he retired in 2013.
After attending Uppingham School, Paul went to Durham University and the College of Law in London and practiced as a solicitor for over 30 years including a period in Bahrain and Oman.
He is involved with a range of charities in and around Northamptonshire, including St Andrew’s Healthcare where he is a board member, the Northamptonshire Community Foundation of which he is a trustee and CPRE Northamptonshire of which he is chairman.
He has a particular interest in conservation, having focussed on tree and hedgerow planting and the reintroduction of wildflowers on his farm. He is a keen walker, having recently completed a 1,000-mile walk from Arles in France to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.
The origins of the office of High Sheriff date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the Sovereign for the maintenance of law and order within the shire or county and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown. The first names recorded for Northamptonshire in 1129 were Richard Basset and Aubrey de Vere. The well-known Wake family of the Courteenhall estate near Northampton have provided the High Sheriff on 17 occasions since 1329.
Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year. Whilst the duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements of the role today and the High Sheriff remains the Sovereign’s representative in the county for all matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.
The key elements of the role can be summarised as follows:
- To lend active support to the principal organs of the constitution within the county - the Royal Family, the judiciary, the police and other law enforcement agencies, the emergency services, local authorities, church and faith groups
- To take an active part in supporting and promoting the voluntary sector, particularly those involved with crime reduction and social cohesion
- To ensure the welfare of visiting High Court Judges, to attend on them at court and to offer them hospitality
- To make a meaningful contribution to the county during the year of office and to uphold and enhance the ancient office of High Sheriff
- To support the Lord-Lieutenant on royal visits and on other occasions as appropriate
As the office is independent and non-political, High Sheriffs are able to bring together a wide range of people within the community they serve. Having been sworn into office remotely under COVID-19 lockdown conditions, Paul is very keen to get out and about and meet as many people serving the community as he can. Of particular interest to Paul are the county charities supporting poor and disadvantaged children and youths caught up in the criminal justice system.
As Paul says: “My hopes and aspirations for my year in office have taken a knock with the crisis but I am still active online with various new initiatives – but I can’t wait to get out into the community again to see for myself the great work that is being done.”
What is Paul’s message for local businesses?
“I am keen to see businesses work more closely with charities to address our priority social challenges, especially those affecting young people, and ask all local business leaders to step up their corporate social responsibility initiatives.”