New High Sheriff of Northumberland appointed to maintain tradition dating back 1000 years
A new High Sheriff of Northumberland has been appointed, maintaining a tradition which dates back to Saxon times when the role was to oversee and maintain law and order locally.
Nowadays, it’s an independent non-political royal appointment and a new sheriff is nominated and installed each year with a duty is to support the charity and voluntary sector.
During her year in office, Joanna Riddell, from Stamfordham, aims to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people post-Covid with creative pursuits and opportunities.
In keeping with the heritage of the role, the high sheriff is also expected to be a champion for the emergency services and encourage crime reduction initiatives.
As founder of visual arts destination Cheeseburn Sculpture and of the Gillian Dickinson Young North East Sculptor of the Year Award, she is hoping to bring the arts to the fore.
“I feel honoured and humbled to be appointed the High Sheriff of Northumberland,” she said at her installation at Cheeseburn Grange Hall.
“As we emerge from Covid-19 restrictions, we will have a lot of healing and recovering to do. I hope to meet many of the wonderful organisations across our county who do so much for our young people, and to recognise all those who make a fine contribution to our community.
"I have the opportunity to learn so much more about Northumberland and the people who live and work here.”
In July, she intends to host a concert in the grounds of Cheeseburn Grange in which young people from across Northumberland will perform. Tickets for the event will go on sale in May and all proceeds will be donated to charities and volunteer organisations in the county via The High Sheriff of Northumberland’s Awards Scheme.
North Northumberland musician Alice Robinson has been selected as her official piper for the year.
Kate Collins, a fashion designer, was also enlisted to create the ceremonial coat that each sheriff must wear at special engagements. Mrs Riddell’s coat features 19th century buttons rescued from her ancestor, Edward Riddell’s coat, who was High Sheriff of Northumberland in 1842.
Joanna takes on the position from Tom Fairfax, of Mindrum.