Some of the 2018 Entries and Winners
Growing success in the community
In the run-up to taking on the role of High Sheriff, the conferences at Burghley House helped prepare me to expect the unexpected. It was still a slight surprise, however, to receive an invitation to open a horticultural show in Slough. As it turned out, it was one of the more interesting and rewarding occasions of my year to date.
This was to be the first horticultural show in Slough for 30 years. Moreover, it was the 80th anniversary of Slough being granted its first Royal Charter when it became a municipal borough. I was asked to unveil a plaque, together with the Mayor of Slough Cllr Harmohinderpal Singh Sohal, to commemorate both the charter of 1938 and also this year’s horticultural show. When the charter had first been granted to Slough it was in the County of Buckinghamshire and the Lord-Lieutenant of that county at the time was Lord Cottesloe and so his name was also recorded. The plaque stands in Lascelles Park beneath two splendid oak trees planted by Lord Cottesloe 80 years ago. Slough was transferred to Berkshire in the 1974 local government reorganisation.
The anniversaries for 2018 did not stop there. A guard of honour was provided by 153 Squadron RAF cadets to mark the 100th anniversary of the RAF. Moreover, it was the 80th anniversary of the first Hurricane being produced by Hawker at Langley Airfield in Slough. Growing success in the community
The plaque was duly unveiled and I formally announced the horticultural show to be open. Walking around the showground it was apparent that a large number of volunteers had devoted considerable time to prepare for the ‘big day’. I believe it is a key part of the High Sheriff’s role to thank volunteers and so there was plenty of opportunities to carry out this important function here. There were impressive entries for flower and vegetable competitions as well as a range of art prizes which celebrated the community in Slough. Local community choirs performed in the main arena along with local dance groups and drummers – all with wonderful energy and enthusiasm.
When speaking to some council staff who were supporting the event, I was very interested to discover that the parks and gardens department actively employs ex-offenders – one of the main themes for my year. So, I was able to arrange to meet their probation service and the team that successfully employs ex-offenders in Slough's parks and gardens. This was a very helpful link for me.
Above all, there was a huge amount of pride in the event as a community occasion and everyone was rightly proud of the broad range of people who attended and who represented the diversity of modern Slough. Afterwards, I was told that ‘your presence really helped to make the day’. It was an occasion in which my wife Joanna and I were certainly proud and honoured to participate. I hope that before the end of my year I may receive more such unexpected invitations and I would encourage future High Sheriffs to look out for and positively embrace any such invitations that may come their way – they can be rich and life-affirming experiences.
Graham Barker High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire 2018-19
(Reproduced from “Berkshire Magazine” Winter 2018)