Robert Napier, who lives at Baynards, in Cranleigh, has been installed as the High Sheriff of Surrey 2017-18 at a ceremony at Guildford Cathedral, with a commitment to make difference to the wellbeing of the people of the county, particularly in some of its more challenged communities.
No doubt he feels quite safe in the hamlet called Baynards, but the nearby village of Cranleigh is certainly being challenged. Perhaps he will turn out to hear what villagers have to say on the 25th May at the Cranleigh in Crisis public meeting?
Making his declaration of allegiance to the Queen to a congregation of civic dignitaries at the close of choral evensong recently, Mr Napier assumed an office that is at least 1,000 years old with its roots in Saxon England. It is the oldest continuous secular office under the crown.
He takes over from the 2016-17 High Sheriff, Richard Whittington. High Sheriffs are appointed by the Queen, and she pricked his name with a brass bodkin from a shortlist of three candidates.
His role is the Queen’s representative of the judiciary, and the office is unpaid, with each sheriff covering his own expenses. Mr Napier will support organisations that uphold law and order, including the courts, police, prisons, emergency service and voluntary bodies.
He intends to do what he can to support, encourage and celebrate the work of the charities, faith groups, youth groups and others who are working in some of the more economically and socially challenged areas in Surrey, formerly known as priority places.
Mr Napier has lived in Surrey for over 30 years. He joined the FTSE company Redland PLC based in Reigate as finance director in 1981 and was chief executive from 1991 to 1997.
In 1999, he joined WWF-UK, then located in Godalming, as chief executive and retired from that role in 2007. He was chairman of the Homes and Communities Agency from 2007 to 2015. He became a trustee of the Watts Gallery in 2004 and, until recently, was honorary treasurer and chaired its finance committee.
He will be actively promoting the High Sheriff Youth Awards scheme, which gives financial support to young people for a wide range of projects that help reduce or prevent crime.