Meet Shropshire’s High Sheriff for 2022-23, Selina Graham
The office of High Sheriff is the oldest in the Country, apart from that of the Crown, having existed for over 1,000 years. In that context I am very conscious that my one year in office represents barely the blinking of an eye, but I am excited by the challenge which, I feel, is “to make a difference”. The role is incredibly varied and far reaching and I am looking forward to exploring the County and getting under it’s skin, to connecting people and connecting with people, and to championing volunteering in all its guises and two charities in particular.
I am proud to be following in the footsteps of several ancestors (John in 1642, Francis in 1652, George in 1746 and Francis Henry Cecil in 1936) who have all served as High Sheriffs of Shropshire, but more notably, I follow in the footsteps of my mother who was the first female High Sheriff of Shropshire in 1997. The Shrievalty has come a long way in 25 years, since this year 2022 will be the first year in history that there are the same number of female as there are male High Sheriffs! However, the challenge in the twenty first century is not to be swept away by the extraordinary history of the role, but to do justice to it in a way that is relevant to today, inclusive and public facing.
Born in Shropshire in 1968 and educated locally until my teens, I then went to boarding school in Oxfordshire, followed by Durham University, and Chester Law School. I married a Zimbabwean farmer, Ian, in 1998 and have 2 children: Henry, who is studying engineering at Exeter university, and Emma who starts at The Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in May this year.
I feel very lucky to have had 3 wonderfully varied incarnations during my working life, firstly as a solicitor in London, followed by farming ostriches and paprika in Zimbabwe where I also set up and ran Asekela Painting Holidays. My third incarnation has been back here in Shropshire, where for the past 20 years I have been involved with running the family estate at Willey.
The common theme running through and alongside my varied career is an (equally varied) commitment to volunteering. Working in a homeless shelter in Kings Cross one night a week in London in my early 20’s, on the Wildlife Society Committee in Zimbabwe during my 30’s, when I also fundraised for and built a school on a farm outside Raffingora.
Back in Shropshire, amongst other trusteeships, I have been, or am currently, a trustee of the Lady Forester Centre in Broseley, Preston Trust Homes, and Slaneys Almshouses, a member of the Willey village hall committee, the Broseley Partnership, Zac’s Brave Battle, and County President of St John Ambulance. I was governor at the local village school for nearly 20 years and helped to found the only free school in Shropshire – Barrow 1618, Trustee of Weston Park Foundation, Chairman of Shropshire CLA and Chair of the Cavalier Centre RDA. I have been involved in many and varied fundraising initiatives in the county and helped to raise in excess of £2 million for charity over the last 20 years.
Shropshire is the most wonderful county with a rich cultural history, and industrial heritage, beautiful market towns and villages and stunning countryside, but it is its people who are the beating heart – and its people who can make such a difference, and indeed need to make such a difference, in this post covid world of retrenchment, mental health issues and food and fuel poverty.
I feel passionately about volunteering. I would like to make the most of this great privilege and opportunity for myself in seeking out and celebrating all that is great about our County and all those who contribute to making it so, but I want to share this opportunity. I want to share it as widely as possible by using social and other media platforms to show people how they too can make a difference in their county and the benefits of doing so to them as well as the charities and communities who they serve.
I would like to somehow redefine volunteering in my year of office, and take it to the next level. To spread the pleasure it can give, as well as the mental health benefits, the social and life skills, career enhancing opportunities – and fun!
In addition there are two charities on which I would like to focus in particular:
The first one, which impacts and interlinks with volunteering in the County is the Community Foundation for Shropshire. There are 48 counties in England and 47 Community Foundations – we do not have our own but are in a once in a lifetime position to build one for the benefit of Shropshire Visit the Community Foundation website here to to find out
The other is The High Sheriff’s Association’s own charity Crimebeat. Traditionally, the High Sheriff has always been involved with matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order and this charity is all about celebrating and supporting innovative initiatives, instigated by young people for young people, which try to prevent people from turning to crime in the first place and ending up in the justice system.
In addition to visiting charities and community groups, I will undertake the traditional role of High Sheriff by supporting those working on our behalf upholding the Queen’s Peace, including the judiciary, the police, prisons, probation and emergency services. I hope to recognise and thank as many people as possible who help to look after us and our county. For those who have gone the extra mile, and made an outstanding contribution in some way, I will be handing out awards.
If you would like a visit, or know a person or group in the Community who deserve recognition and thanks please let me know, or nominate them for a High Sheriff’s Award here or an Outstanding Young Citizens Award here or enter the Shropshire’s Outstanding Community Competition here.
M: 07917 625 033