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Essex has a new High Sheriff

News / Thu 11th Apr 2024 at 03:03pm

TAKING on a role that is steeped in history and making it relevant and a force for good in modern times is a challenge being met with enthusiasm and determination by David Hurst.

He is joining the ranks of men and a few women who, over the past 982 years, have been appointed as High Sheriff of Essex.

Armed with an impressive amount of experience in the business and voluntary sectors, David is aiming to make the most of his year of office and will travel the county, helping to highlight its attributes and its needs.

He said: “I am very honoured to become High Sheriff of Essex. I know my own area, around Southend, very well and I am going to be learning a lot about other parts of the county. It is a great opportunity to see things I haven’t come across before in many different communities.

“I am very keen to support the police, the judiciary and the emergency services, I will certainly be doing that. I also want to encourage people to take up volunteering, the sooner they get into it the better for their community. People sometimes just need some encouragement to realise that there are no barriers, anybody can become a volunteer.”

David has been involved in his own community as a volunteer for decades and has been chairman and trustee with several charities. He is currently president of Southend Round Table 106 and his charitable fundraising efforts over the years led to him becoming chairman of the Southend Community Fund, which is managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

As High Sheriff of Essex, David, who was born and bred in the county, will be raising money for the High Sheriff’s Fund, also run by ECF, with the aim of promoting crime prevention and community safety in Essex.

His involvement with ECF comes naturally, as he shares the organisation’s aims of supporting local charities and voluntary groups whose work improves the lives of people in Essex.

Putting these ideals into practice, David founded Rochford Rivercare in 2002, to keep the River Roach litter free.

Quite a few of us now meet in a local farmyard and set out to collect huge hauls of rubbish. It is a challenge, but keeping rivers clean has become something that more and more people are concerned about.”

David also uses his business background, in publishing, recruitment and advertising, to bring a professional slant to the voluntary sector and is keen to see other professionals become involved in local charities, particularly as trustees.

He said: “I have a great deal of empathy for people running charities and understand the challenges they face. I hope that encouraging links and contacts between various organisations and signposting people towards the help they need will be part of my role as High Sheriff.

“It is an unusual role, as it only lasts 12 months and I have some marvellous predecessors. I am not landed gentry, as many have been, but I am determined to do my best. I am aiming to attend around 300 events and will enjoy the opportunity of getting out and about in the county.

“I am also planning a sponsored walk to raise awareness of the High Sheriff’s Fund and on the way help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the RNLI. It will be a fairly modest distance of 12 miles and will go via Benfleet, Hadleigh Castle, Leigh, Southend and the pier finishing at Shoebury station.”

During his year of office David will be supported, as always, by his wife Jane. The couple have been married for 40 years and have two daughters and three grandchildren.

When he attends events, David will be wearing the traditional velvet outfit associated with High Sheriffs.

“It really is a privilege to wear such a splendid outfit, tailor made by a master in the field,” he said.

“When describing the role of High Sheriff, I can do no better than quote Nick Alston DL, a former High Sheriff of Essex. He said, ‘the role has been a constant since before the Domesday era but has adapted to modern times and is held in great affection’.

“In times of uncertainty- and these are uncertain times – it helps provide continuity and stability.”

For more information about the High Sheriff visit essexcommunityfoundation.org.uk.

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