wfuknewweb2013High Sheriff Rewards Local Charities including the Wilderness Foundation UK
Grants totalling £24,000 and certificates were presented at the Awards ceremony which was held at Anglia Ruskin University and was compered by BBC presenter, Etholle George on the 19th March.
The event was attended by over 200 invited guests including the Lord Lieutenant, the Chief Constable, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Mayors and Chairman from every District in the county as well as representatives from all aspects of community safety and the judiciary.
The High Sheriff, Mrs Julia Abel Smith who is the 833rd High Sheriff of Essex and sixth lady to take on the role, paid tribute to the people of Essex as she came to the end of her highly successful year of office, during which she completed hundreds of engagements across the county.
“It has been the most extraordinary privilege to be High Sheriff of Essex,” she said. “I have learnt so much and met such a wide range of impressive people.  The greatest thing about the role is being able to thank the unthanked, the people who are quietly working to such good effect in the community.
“I have been particularly impressed with the young people I have met and the contribution they are making all over the county.  I loved talking to them and finding out how passionate they are about what they are doing.  In the summer I opened the Hoody Festival in Harwich where I met a group, who showed that not all young people wearing hoodies are up to mischief.
“It has been a very busy year and I have seen such wonderful work across the county. When I started my year of office I said that I wanted to visit all 12 local districts and the two unitary authorities and I asked each area to show me something they were proud of and something that was a cause for concern. I also wanted to meet the community safety officers in each area.
“I was very grateful to Andrew Clarke from Essex Community Foundation for accompanying me on these visits. It was enormously helpful to have someone there who is so knowledgeable about voluntary organisations in Essex.
“The Community Foundation has been of such value to me during my year of office.  In my travels round Essex I realised that the role of High Sheriff is very well loved and although it is such an ancient role it is still very relevant today.”
During her year of office Julia raised money for the High Sheriffs’ Fund to support voluntary organisations which are working throughout Essex to make their communities safe from crime and the fear of crime.
Since it came under Essex Community Foundation’s management in 1997, the High Sheriff’s Fund has distributed 498 grants totalling over £410,000 to voluntary and community organisations which are all working hard to support local people and address crime related issues in their area.
Projects which have received support include women’s refuges, anti-social behaviour reduction initiatives, garden maintenance schemes for elderly residents to reduce incidence of burglary, neighbourhood watch schemes and activities for children and young people.
Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of ECF said, “The High Sheriffs’ Fund is a valuable financial resource to the voluntary sector in Essex and ECF is delighted to manage the Fund and work with successive High Sheriffs, helping them to increase their understanding of issues which are being tackled at a local level.”
The Wilderness Foundation were presented with an award to mark our efforts in keeping the County safe, and were awarded a grant to enable us to attract, recruit and train additional mentors, so we can reach more young people with our youth programmes.