Mrs Jane Stitchbury of Ashley Heath made her declaration of office as The High Sheriff for Dorset for 2014/15 at a special ceremony at Bryanston School in Blandford on Thursday April 4.

The historical service, known as The High Sheriff’s Declaration announces the nominated High Sheriff of Dorset for the ‘shreival year’ of 2014/15.  The High Sheriff and the judiciary support the Crown, actively lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector.

During the ceremony, the former High Sheriff, Mrs Catriona Payne, presented the Key of the Poole Town Goal to Mrs Jane Stitchbury. A sword was also presented to Mrs Stitchbury by former High Sheriff Mr Jeremy Pope.

The Office of High Sheriff is an independent, non-political royal appointment for a single year. The origins of the office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the county, and for the collection and return of taxes owed to the Crown. Today, there are 55 High Sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year.

The High Sheriff is selected or ‘pricked’ from the List of Sheriffs for England and Wales and is carried out on a voluntary basis with no part of the expense falling on the public purse.

Mrs Katharine Jones, partner at Humphries Kirk LLP, is the current Under Sheriff and the High Sheriff can be contacted through her office at 40 High West Street, Dorchester.