NORMALLY, it’s a special ceremony where the great and good of Berkshire gather to witness the moment.
But this year’s swearing-in of the royal county’s new High Sheriff was a more intimate – and distant – affair.
Due to the coronavirus, the usual pomp and circumstance for the event was replaced with a less spectacular Zoom meeting.
Mary Riall says she was in her kitchen for the event on Friday, April 3, while Berkshire Bench Chair Chris Juden JP hosted the ceremony over the internet.
The office is the oldest royal appointment, going back to the Norman conquest. Each county in England and Wales has one and the role is now very different from the days when they had to collect revenues and enforce law and order on their patch. It is an independent and non-political role.
Mrs Riall said that her year will be dominated by supporting those helping Berkshire manage the Covid-19 crisis.
She will also attend any Royal visits to the country, support the Crown, High Court judges, and the judiciary.
And the role includes promoting a wide range of voluntary work within their communities, together with encouraging and participating in projects designed to reduce crime.
“I am delighted and honoured to be given the opportunity to serve my home county of Berkshire. I will work as best I can in this time of national crisis to support and honour all those heroically working to meet the needs of everyone in Berkshire and especially our most vulnerable, said Mrs Riall.
“I look forward to carrying out the role of High Sheriff by supporting all those involved in administering justice, law and order in our county as well as the emergency services.
“In addition, my personal focus will be on those working to improve the lives of our most vulnerable young people.”