High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire praises Peterborough volunteers as year in post comes to an end

The former High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire has spoken of his admiration for volunteers across Peterborough as he steps down from the role.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 3:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 7th April 2020, 4:06 pm
The High Sheriff's Justice Service at Peterborough Cathedral.    High Sheriff Neil McKittrick with guests EMN-190610-201101009
The High Sheriff's Justice Service at Peterborough Cathedral. High Sheriff Neil McKittrick with guests EMN-190610-201101009

Retired Crown Court judge Neil McKittrick took up the ceremonial role in April last year, and has spent much of the past 12 months celebrating the role of volunteers across the county.

While his time in post has effectively been brought to a premature end by the coronavirus lock down. Mr McKittrick, who lives in Peterborough, said it had been ‘an honour’ to serve in the role. He officially left the post today.

He said: “One of the highlights was to welcome on behalf of the community HM The Queen to Cambridge in July and to marvel at her tremendous energy and interest in people.

Mayor of Peterborough Coun. Gul Nawaz, Neil McKittrick High Sheriff with Samaritans director Martin Cragg, guest speaker Nijjar, Zoe Mason from Network Rail and Samaritans Rosemary, Mari and Janet EMN-191109-081816009

There were seven other Royal Visits including two by the Duke of Gloucester to places in Peterborough.

“But the focus of my year was on charities and volunteering. I visited a great many and without exception I have been impressed by the huge contribution made by volunteers to their particular charities.

“Without them I doubt that Society could exist and function in the way it does. Peterborough as a city has never been short of those willing to help.

“An event held by Deaf Blind UK in June brought together a number of charities under one roof, each able to illustrate the work they were putting in to the local community.

Remembrance Sunday in Peterborough City Centre. High Sheriff Neil McKittrick laying wreath EMN-191011-212838009

“I then spent time with Age UK and their well planned and executed Home visiting Service for those who would otherwise be at risk of alienation; the great work being done by Kidney Research UK in their efforts to defeat what is sometimes known as the ‘silent killer’ and the opportunity to speak to some who had received a new kidney after a successful transplant; the imaginative work being done by ‘Little People’ giving a platform to those with dwarfism; the Red

Cross volunteers helping in a non-judgmental way asylum seekers who now have a home in our city; and just recently the opportunity to meet the wonderful team from Riding For the Disabled at their base in Thorney and to see the sheer joy of children gaining confidence by being on horseback. There has been many more besides.

“Everywhere I have gone I have been welcomed and all my questions about the particular charity have been answered. Of course it is not just Peterborough. “Whittlesey is a town which enjoys marvellous community spirit. From the Mayor downwards charitable activities thrive. One of the highlights of my year was opening the new Town Council offices there. When the Police closed the police station, the Council bought it and made it fit for purpose. They even converted upstairs space to make a couple of flats for new residents.

“Of course there was much more besides, such as a number of presentation evenings, to the Police for bravery and long service; to the Army cadets at Waterbeach, to the staff at HMP Whitemoor for their bravery and long service [including to two officers who had been present at London Bridge and had helped in the immediate aftermath of the attacks] and to the wonderful St Johns Ambulance volunteers at their celebration evening.

General Election count 2019 at the East of England Arena Neil McKittrick the returning officer EMN-191213-094957009

“It is not generally appreciated but the role of high sheriff is non-political and voluntary.

“It was been a huge joy travelling the length and breadth of the County. Of course in the last few weeks it has been difficult with several events I would have liked to have attended cancelled because of this wretched virus. But we will come through it and the need for volunteers now and in the future will be greater than ever.”

The new High Sheriff, Brigadier Timothy John Seal TD of Orton Longueville, will take over the post on April 7.

High Sheriffs rank among the highest dignitaries in their counties. It is the oldest secular office in the country and yesterday’s ceremony is one which down the ages has officially signified the reigning monarch’s approval of those nominated.

General Election count 2019 at the East of England Arena for Paul Bristow and Shailesh Vara. The returning officer Neil Mckittrick EMN-191213-095612009

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Volunteers at the St Andrews church friendship club with their guest speaker High Sheriff Neil McKittrick EMN-190723-134823009

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Bangladesh Welfare Association Eid celebrations at Parnwell.Pictured are Mayor John Peach with former High Sheriff Linda Fairbrother and Deputy Lord Lt Neil McKittrick EMN-150726-145234009
Duke of Gloucester visits Faizan-e-Madina mosque Deputy Lord Lt Jaspal Singh and High Sheriff Neil McKittrick EMN-200227-173509009
Deafblind UK Low vision and hearing loss day. High Sheriff Neil McKittrick with archery instructor John Searle. EMN-190107-144429009