The High Sheriff

Photography Russell Davies

A bit about me!

Meet Shropshire’s High Sheriff for 2024-25, Brian Welti JP

I was born in a small village just outside Bedford in the summer of 1958, where I attended the village school before going on to attend Bedford School from 1966-76.

I attended Shuttleworth Agricultural College from 1978-1981 where I was voted in by my fellow students to be President of the Students Union in my final year. This role resulted amongst other things in me meeting Prince Charles as he was then when he came to Speech Day to present the prizes. I remained working on the farm at Shuttleworth until I obtained my first Farm Managers post 18 months later in early 1983, joining a Farm Management Company who moved me around the country from Suffolk to Pembrokeshire and then the Gower in West Wales.

My Life

It was whilst on the Gower I married and in November 1988 I was headhunted to join Grosvenor Farms in Chester as the Potato Manager responsible for 900 acres of potatoes on the 5000 acre farm.

Our daughter Rebecca was born in Chester and not long after I was given the opportunity to go back to Bedfordshire and take up the Farm Managers position for The Shuttleworth Trust’s Old Warden Estate, with two dairy herds, sheep, beef and an arable enterprise comprising cereals, potatoes, sugar beet, and oilseed rape.

Our two sons, Tom and Sam were born in 1991 and 1993 at Old Warden.

In 1991 we started working with Massey Ferguson and Droningborg developing what led on to become Precision Farming with Professor Mark Moore. We formed the Precision Farming Alliance to promote these new and exciting technologies being the test farm and pioneers of GPS technology in farming, and this led to us hosting the National Cereals Event ‘Cereals 95’ on the farm.

Shuttleworth and the Old Warden Estate (5000 acres) which includes the Shuttleworth Collection of Aeroplanes and Swiss Garden is an Educational Charity which was set up in memory of Richard Shuttleworth and it was evolving so much so, that in 1997 I was appointed Operations Director for the whole trust with the aim to develop and take it into the new millennium with a five year plan.

Farming was changing, BSE and the Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001 accelerated this and although devastating, some good came from it with opportunities none of us envisaged.

The CLA Game Fair approached me in early May 2001 as they were due to stage that year’s Game Fair at Woburn Abbey, but due to the Foot and Mouth situation, Woburn did not want to risk infecting the Safari Park with 150,000 farming and rural visitors. They came to us with only 10 weeks until the event and the trustees agreed we could host it and thereby started my transition into what I jokingly refer to as farming people.

We staged the event for 150,000 visitors over three days including vehicle dipping troughs and all the biosecurity we could think of. In addition, we were privileged to have another visit from Prince Charles who attended the event and spent much of the day on site, giving me another chance to meet him and be his host this time around. It was deemed a great success and it gave me a taste for the event world.

In 2002, we built and developed a demonstration play equipment area in conjunction with the National Playing Fields association and again were very privileged to welcome its patron The Duke of Edinburgh to open it. I had the honour of showing him around and introducing him to all my team who had built it.

The five year plan had been fully achieved and I had been invited to become the part-time Assistant Off Site Manager at Glastonbury Festival following our Game Fair success.

I took two weeks leave and went to Glastonbury, something I never thought I would ever attend. All I can say is what an experience, and I ended up doing Glastonbury for 16 years.


Life in Shropshire

I re-located to Wem in Shropshire in 2002 with the purpose of helping my brother (who had moved to the county with our mother in 1979) to build and develop The Welti Club, a new Tennis and Leisure Centre in Shrewsbury. The club opened in January 2005, and I helped the membership to reach 4,300 members before deciding to sell my interest in the business in late 2006.

In 2007 I moved to the Baschurch area where I remained until 2023 when I moved to Ellesmere.

A short temporary contract working for the Technical Services department of Shropshire Fire and Rescue followed, before I became the Bursar at Packwood Haugh School until 2013, when I then left to work in the event industry full time.

I had become a magistrate on the Shropshire Bench in 2007 and a Governor at Oswestry School in 2013, quickly becoming Chair of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, and I still hold both of these posts.

I was co-opted to join Baschurch Parish Council in 2018, becoming Chair in 2021 and resigning in September 2023, as the rules of the Shrievalty state a High Sheriff cannot hold such a position for six months prior to taking up the office of High Sheriff.

I rejoined the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service full time in October 2017 as Equipment Contracts Manager in the Technical Services department, a post I held until July 2023 when I retired in preparation for the High Sheriffs role.

Throughout this time, my business Woodfield Event Management Ltd. continued to deliver traffic management solutions to the events industry with a wide range of local clients including the RAF Cosford Airshow, and the Newport, Oswestry, Nantwich and Burwarton Agricultural Shows, as well as national events including Car Fest, Henley Royal Regatta, Hampton Court Music Festival and Windsor Illuminated.

Fast forward to April 2024, and I now hold the esteemed position of the High Sheriff of Shropshire.

Rebecca my daughter is a show manager for the RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, married to Freddie, and has a young son called Alfie.

Tom lives with his partner Emma and their children, Oscar, Luna and Raffy in Whittington, and works at Cholmondley and Houghton Estates, whilst Sam, who is my youngest son, is an Investment Portfolio Manager and lives with his partner Niamh in Edinburgh.

They have all done very well and I am exceptionally proud of them all, and they are very supportive of me and especially with my undertaking of the High Sheriff role.

Working for the on-call fire service

It was whilst I was managing farms and estates that my second career and what was to become a hobby of mine arose. It was a pre-requisite whilst working on the Gower peninsula that those living and working there had to join either the RNLI lifeboat, the Coastguard or the local retained fire station, and therein started my 35-year career in the on-call fire service.

During these years I have served for the West Glamorgan Fire Service at Reynoldston Station, Biggleswade Fire Station in Bedfordshire where I was promoted to Leading Firefighter, and after moving to Shropshire I joined Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service serving at Wem and Shrewsbury, and from 2007 at Baschurch as Watch Manager, retiring in August 2023.

During this 35 year span, I have attended 1000’s of incidents of varying types of severity, some amusing and some very sad, with the most memorable being the Osbaston House incident on 26 August 2008.

It was the most satisfying career to be part of a close knit team (crew), helping our local and national communities, travelling the country with the heavy pumping units to flooding incidents nationwide and foreign exchange trips. I was also proud to represent the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service in the Civilian Services Contingent for the Centenary National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in 2018.

The High Sheriff's charity 'Crimebeat'

Nationally, the High Sheriff’s Association has its own charity called Crimebeat which celebrates and supports innovative initiatives instigated by young people, for young people to prevent them from becoming involved in criminal activity and ending up in the justice system.

The county of Shropshire has not yet participated in this charity, and I want to continue my predecessors’ efforts (Mandy Thorn MBE DL) working with youth groups to encourage projects to come forward and to champion them.

Shropshire and its communities

Shropshire has been my home since 2002 and has provided so many opportunities for me.

As Shropshire is a very rural and agricultural county, and because of my own interest in farming, my focus for my Shrieval Year is to support RABI (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution). I want to emphasise their work and raise awareness of the issues faced by the farming and rural communities which are often hidden or misunderstood.

I shall also be supporting the Shropshire Community Foundation, Crimebeat and the Firefighters Charity, due to my links with the emergency services.

As High Sheriff I have an incredible opportunity to shine a spotlight on those who work within these organisations and to be able to celebrate and thank them.

Shropshire Map

The traditional role of the High Sheriff

The traditional role of High Sheriffs is to support those working on our behalf to uphold the King’s Peace – including the judiciary, (the Crown, Magistrates and Coroners Courts,) Police, Prison, Probation, and Emergency Services. I fully understand and appreciate those who work in these organisations, both blue light and voluntary organisations such as the St Johns Ambulance, the Red Cross, West Mercia Search and Rescue and the Street Pastors and I want to raise their profile and recognise and thank as many people as possible in these sectors for all they do on behalf of each of us.

Being appointed to a role with over 1000 years of history behind it is rather daunting, but also gives such an opportunity to shine a spotlight on those who make a difference, and those who are the unsung heroes. As is customary, I will be seeking nominations for the High Sheriff Awards – if you know of an individual, a voluntary or community group or a business that is going the extra mile and who deserves recognition please do nominate them.

This county and society would not operate without the voluntary sector. The amount of time people give voluntarily is nothing short of incredible. I want it to be part of my mission to find them and recognise and thank them.

The People

The High Sheriff

The Under Sheriff

The High Sheriff's Chaplain

The High Sheriff's Cadets

Recent High Sheriffs

“If you are a member of the judiciary or emergency services, either as a blue light or a volunteer and would like me to visit, please do let me know.”

– Brian Welti JP

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