Back in 2018, (Issue 103, Sheriff’s Posse) HIP wrote about the anachronistic role of the County High Sheriff. David E P Dennis provides a different perspective.

Andrew Blackman is the current High Sheriff of East Sussex, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the county. He was appointed by Her Majesty the Queen for one year to promote the many wonderful things that go on in East Sussex, and to visit, thank and support all those individuals and voluntary groups who are the backbone of our communities. Andrew’s varied career has involved a year at sea, time in Africa, work in one of the Leonard Cheshire Homes for the disabled, and many years as an art dealer, so he brings a wealth of experience to the role. 

In the Combe Valley

As High Sheriff, Andrew travels throughout East Sussex and Brighton & Hove meeting people, visiting groups and observing every aspect of life in the county. In the last few weeks visits have included Hastings & Rother Mediation Service, the Refugee Buddy Project, the High Weald AONB Unit, Emmaus Brighton, Towner Eastbourne and Harvey’s Brewery – so there is no shortage of variety! He has also been on boards for the Phoenix Appeal at St Michael’s Hospice and the MRI Scanner Appeal at Conquest Hospital and was until recently Chairman of the Friends of Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve. He is also an Ambassador for Sussex Community Foundation. 

Andrew’s love of wildlife and landscape was evident when he visited Combe Valley recently. The Friends of Combe Valley charity invited him to tour Combe Valley Countryside Park where he viewed the beautiful Pebsham Lake with its large cormorant colony. He met Park Wardens, the Mayor of Bexhill Cllr Lynn Langlands and the senior firearms officer for Sussex and Surrey, Chief Inspector Steve Biglands, who is also head of the Rural Crime Team. 

The role of High Sheriff is an ancient one, created by the Saxons and thus dating back to before the Norman Conquest. As High Sheriff, Andrew is the Sovereign’s representative in the county for all matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order. He is responsible for the wellbeing and protection of Her Majesty’s High Court Judges when on circuit in the county… luckily now only in a ceremonial way! The role is entirely voluntary and High Sheriffs receive no help with expenses, administration costs or even mileage, so it is a major commitment for the twelve months of office. Nonetheless Andrew’s enthusiasm is evident – he has a deep love for this county with its welcoming people, rich heritage, world-class scenery and beautiful architecture.

Talking about the privilege of being appointed High Sheriff of East Sussex and the unique opportunity it gives him to see every part of the life of “this very special county”, he says: “So many good things are happening, even in these challenging times, with communities pulling together to face up to Covid-19 with imagination and innovation. East Sussex is a fabulous place to live, with stunning, ancient landscapes, some of the UK’s most important nature reserves, a vibrant arts scene, villages, towns, churches and castles full of character, and our glorious coastline – I feel very lucky to call this county home.”

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