BODIAM man Graham Peters has become the new High Sheriff of East Sussex.
The role is one of the oldest Royal appointments in existence, dating back to Saxon times.
Graham was appointed at Lewes Crown Court on March 27 through a warrant from the Privy Council.
He was appointed alongside the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Patrick Burgess, from Chichester.
It was a colourful occasion with the judge and officials attired in their court robes and the two sheriffs in 19th Century court dress, complete with swords.
Following the swearing in of the two candidates the whole gathering assembled on the outside steps of the Courthouse for photographs as four trumpeters blew a fanfare.
Mr Peters’ trumpets carried banners beautifully embroidered by Able and Willing a supported employment business in Brighton who employ over twenty disabled people.
Both men were chosen by The Queen who “pricked” their documents of appointment with a silver bodkin to signify approval.
Graham Peters has lived in Bodiam for over 20 years. The appointment is, non-political, above local interest and is unpaid so none of the Sheriff’s expenses fall on the public purse.
The High Sheriff is part of the establishment of our country. The office has its roots in Saxon times and is the oldest continuous secular office under the Crown.
The original “Shire Reeves” were Royal officials appointed to enforce the King’s interests in the County in particular the collection of revenues and the enforcement of law and order.
Even though their powers waned, High Sheriffs upheld all matters relating to the higher Courts - particularly the welfare of High Court Judges on circuit and they maintained law and order; tasks now delegated to the Chief Constable of Police and the Judiciary.
High Sheriffs serve for one year – normally from late March or early April and nowadays spend the majority of their time supporting charitable and community organisations. As a Royal appointment by Her Majesty via the Privy Council they are, effectively the “second citizen” in the County. They attend at Royal visits in the County, continue to support her Majesty’s High Court Judges when on circuit and give active support and encouragement to the forces of law and order, the emergency services and County voluntary organisations.
The Victorian High Sheriff had a number of duties which were consolidated by the Sheriffs Act 1887.
Mr Peters has been involved on a voluntary basis in economic regeneration and charitable work across East Sussex for 15 years and sees his appointment as an opportunity to seek out and bring together businesses, charities and local government to improve communication and facilitate their working together.