History was made today as David Kerfoot MBE, DL became High Sheriff of North Yorkshire in a digital ceremony.
The ancient office of High Sheriff has been around since 948 AD but this is the first time such a ceremony has taken place in this way!
The Dean of Ripon, the Very Rev John Dobson, is Chaplain to the High Sheriff and is seen here saying prayers during the declaration ceremony – presided over by His Honour Judge Morris – and conducted via Zoom. The ceremony could not be held at the crown court in York because of the coronavirus.
The High Sheriff is chosen by the monarch who pierces the name of the recipient on a sheet of paper with a silver dagger.
The High Sheriff could raise taxes, was in charge of the local militia, could hold court and could pursue villains; he had the power to raise a hue and cry! Judge Morris told those attending that Henry VIII was so concerned about these powers that he created the office of Lord Lieutenant in order to have his own man on the spot!
Whilst the duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the Judiciary remain central elements of the position today. In addition, High Sheriffs actively lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector.
Mr Kerfoot takes over from Linda Fenwick and will serve for 12 months. He has chosen David Garfitt to be his Under Sheriff.
During the ceremony the dean prayed for the High Sheriff and his family, for the judges and magistrates serving North Yorkshire and for all suffering from and contending with the coronavirus.