While the bulk of my meetings are virtual, it was nice to get out of the office – and the frock coat and gaiters – for a more conventional meeting this afternoon. I had the pleasure of visiting Bradford Estates to chat to managing director Alexander Newport. I was interested to see the newest addition to the estate’s 12,000 acre holding in the form of Burlington Farm, purchased in 2019 along with a modern grain store. It supports the estate’s expansion of its growing regenerative farming business, which focuses on soil health, ecology and sustainable practices.

My family have been friends with Alexander’s family for many years so it was a pleasure to visit at the start of my first full week in the role of High Sheriff and to share my plans for the year ahead.

Earlier I had an online meeting about The Armed Forces Covenant, a charity aimed at supporting ex-servicemen as they leave the forces.

These days army personnel tend to serve for a relatively short period – it is now rare for somebody to serve 20 years in the armed forces; there are fewer career soldiers.

These former soldiers are often from less advantaged areas and come out of the army with little or no training or skills for the wider world. Their problems are generally with employment, housing and adapting to civilian life in general.

It would appear that Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin work closely together on this.

I sense that the charity struggles to raise awareness of what it is trying to achieve. It is an important cause – there are potentially 10 million people encompassed by the wider Covenant. This includes not only ex-members of the forces but also widows and widowers and families who have military connections.

They normally have various fundraising events but, like so much else, these are on hold because of Covid 19. They would very much welcome me being involved at a number of these events when they resume and it is a cause close to my heart, as they have a strong link to the Shropshire Yeomanry, of which my father was Colonel and subsequently Honorary Colonel.

They would like to be able to focus on Shropshire Yeomanry and restore its pride. At the National Arboretum at Alrewas the Shropshire memorial plaque/statue is relatively modest compared to a number. Part of the problem, it appears, is that the Shropshire Yeomanry was absorbed into the Mercian Yeomanry and support has died off as a result. There are 119 businesses supplying funds to the charity, at present, and it would be good to build on that.

I had a meeting this morning, again online, with Hanna Sebright, CEO of Midlands Air Ambulance, together with Emma Gray, the COO (Chief Operating Officer) and Roger Pemberton, the Chairman.

At present, the Midlands Air Ambulance works from a portacabin on Cosford Airfield, which is far from satisfactory.

The charity is in the process of building and developing a £12million state-of-the-art facility on 20 acres of the Ruckley Estate. It is to be an eco-friendly build with access to the general public. Around £1million still needs to be raised.

The aim is to have two permanent helicopters. There will not only be the crew and medical equipment but a substantial training facility. It is envisaged that there will be meeting room space for third parties and a viewing gallery.

This new Midlands Air Ambulance facility will be the largest in the country, covering West Midlands, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, a population of six million. Annual running costs will be £10million and about 200 volunteers will be involved. The charity receives around £1.3 million from the Department of Health and £2.5 million from The Heath Appeal. The National Lottery provides further income. The charity, which is now 30 years old, also relies heavily on legacies.

This is an organisation – and project – I intend helping in any way I can over the next year.