Meet Bedfordshire’s High Sheriff

GLORIOUS sunshine was the order of the day when businessman Jack Sapsworth MBE was declared High Sheriff of Bedfordshire at a centuries-old ceremony on Friday.

Resplendent in full 1760s court dress comprising black velvet coat and breeches, lace jabot, black stockings, buckled shoes and ceremonial sword, he made a sworn statement about his duties in front of JP Dr David Siegler, VIP guests and other members of the Bench party at Putteridge Bury.

This comprised His Honour Judge Michael Kay, outgoing High Sheriff Andrew Slack, Vice Lord Lieutenant Colonel Colin Mason, University of Bedfordshire Vice Chancellor Professor Les Ebdon, Rev Canon Nick Bell (who will be chaplain during Mr Sapsworth’s year of shrievalty) and Under Sheriff Brian Hall.

Outgoing High Sheriff Andrew Slack described the post as “an ancient and honourable office that goes back to Saxon times.”

He said: “It’s completely non-political, there is no remuneration and no part of it falls on the public purse.

“It entails going out and about in the county to find out what was going on, then shouting about it.”

Last month Andrew and Jack planted 10 trees at a new Jubilee woodland in the Forest of Marston Vale, one of hundreds planned to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond anniversary.

It marked the completion of a successful year for the outgoing incumbent and a symbolic handover to the High Sheriff in Nomination as the two men swapped the post’s ceremonial sword for humble spades.

The High Sheriff of Bedfordshire takes office each April for a term of one year and is the Sovereign’s representative for everything relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.

Jack, 70, a father of three from Luton, said he was honoured to be chosen.

He added: “It will be a privilege to represent the county where I have lived for more than 50 years.”

The Glaswegian-born Hatters fan considers himself a Lutonian through and through.

He arrived in the town as a homeless young lad but soon worked his way up to head the council housing department’s maintenance team.

He left in 1971 to set up his own business, J Sapsworth Ltd, Glazing & Decorating Services, which has gone from strength to strength.

A keen Rotarian, he was awarded the organisation’s highest honour – the Four Avenue of Service Citation – for his services to the community.

His theme for the year is taken from Rotary International – Service Above Self.

The charities he’ll be supporting include Signposts Luton and Keech Hospice Care. He is also committed to raising funds and awareness for the hearing impaired. His parents and grandparents were profoundly deaf.

Jack and his second wife Lyn, who have been married for 24 years, have a busy schedule ahead.

“We already have 18 appointments scheduled for April,” he smiled.

> Now watch Natalee Hazelwood’s video at www.lutontoday.co.uk

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