Thousand year old tradition continues as new High Sheriffs of West and East Sussex take their Oath

Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, outgoing High Sheriff of West Sussex Lady Emma Barnard,incoming High Sheriff of West Sussex Mrs Caroline Nicholls DL, incoming High Sheriff of East Sussex Major General John Moore-Bick CBE DL, outgoing High Sheriff of East Sussex Mrs Maureen Chowen and Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex Peter Field. Photo: Andrew Mardell
Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, outgoing High Sheriff of West Sussex Lady Emma Barnard,incoming High Sheriff of West Sussex Mrs Caroline Nicholls DL, incoming High Sheriff of East Sussex Major General John Moore-Bick CBE DL, outgoing High Sheriff of East Sussex Mrs Maureen Chowen and Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex Peter Field. Photo: Andrew Mardell

A tradition stretching back more than 1,000 years was continued yesterday (Wednesday March 28) as the new High Sheriffs of West and East Sussex began their year in office with a formal Declaration Ceremony at Lewes Crown Court.

Mrs Caroline Nicholls DL, from Worthing in West Sussex, and Major General John Moore-Bick CBE DL, who lives in Ewhurst Green in East Sussex, will both serve as The Queen’s representatives for law and order in their counties, lending active support to the Judiciary, the Police and other emergency services.

Judges, Chaplains, lord Lieutenants and  High Sheriffs on the steps at Lewes Crown Court. Photo: Andrew Mardell.

Judges, Chaplains, lord Lieutenants and High Sheriffs on the steps at Lewes Crown Court. Photo: Andrew Mardell.

They will also take an active part in supporting and promoting local voluntary organisations.

The two High Sheriffs were joined in court by the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper and The Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mr Peter Field, Chief Constable of Sussex Giles York QPM, senior Judges and representatives of the emergency services, county dignitaries and family and friends.

Each delivered their Oath of Declaration in front of the Presiding High Court Judge for the South-Eastern Circuit, The Hon Mr Justice Jeremy Stuart-Smith.

The voluntary appointment is for one year; Mrs Nicholls succeeds Lady Emma Barnard, of Parham House, in West Sussex, while Major General Moore-Bick takes over from Mrs Maureen Chowen, from Brighton.

Mrs Nicholls is a journalist and a former communications director at Gatwick Airport; she plays an active part in the county’s voluntary sector, including as a founder Trustee of Sussex Community Foundation and is a Deputy Lieutenant for West Sussex.

She said: “It is a great honour and a privilege to be selected - and I look forward in particular this year to highlight those who support and encourage young people to combat disadvantage and fulfill their potential, as well as those who protect us and keep us safe. It will be a fascinating and rewarding year.”

Major General Moore-Bick was a Royal Engineer, a bridge builder, linguist and international staff officer, whose roots lie in agriculture and forestry. Returning to his native Sussex, he has held several military appointments, is a Deputy Lieutenant and a governor of Plumpton College.

He said: “Growing up in East Sussex, its wonderful landscape impressed itself upon me early in life and remained in my mind as “HOME” when in many far-off places. East Sussex supported me through school and university and the Honourable Office of High Sheriff gives me another opportunity to serve those who are setting out in life and support those who underpin the secure framework of our county. I look forward to meeting many old friends and making many new, building bridges between those who can work more effectively together for the public good.”

Each High Sheriff appoints an Under Sheriff for the year to assist them in their duties.

This year’s Under Sheriff for both counties is Mr Kevin Smyth, from Ditchling, a solicitor, commercial mediator, a Trustee of the Martlets Hospice in Hove and a former Chairman of Governors of Worth School.

He too delivered his Oath of Declaration in front of the Presiding Judge.

This follows the retirement of Kevin Taylor, from Arundel, who served as Under Sheriff for the Bailiwick of Sussex, covering East and West Sussex, for six years.

The High Sheriffs have also appointed a Chaplain for each county: the Rev Canon Jonathan Baldwin, from Gatwick, for West Sussex and the Rev Paul Mundy, from Newick, for East Sussex.