New High Sheriff hails 'honour and privilege'
BRISTOL'S new High Sheriff has been sworn in.
Dr Shaheen Chaudhry, a magistrate of 20 years, was declared at the Crown Court yesterday by Mr Justice Ian Burnett.
Dignitaries including the Lord Mayor Peter Main, elected Mayor George Ferguson, Lord Lieutenant Mary Prior, Avon and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan and Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens were all present for the ceremony.
Dr Choudhry, who takes over from Andrew Nisbet, said: "I feel very honoured and privileged to be the first female, Asian High Sheriff of Bristol. "I hope this will lead to more of the diversity in our community being represented. I also hope it will contribute to a new beginning and a new age for Bristol."
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The office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political royal appointment for a single year.
Its origins date back to Saxon times, when the 'shire reeve' was responsible to the King or Queen for the maintenance of law and order and for collecting and returning taxes.
While the duties of the unpaid role have evolved, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central and the High Sheriffs also lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and the voluntary sector.
They attend royal visits to their counties and are entitled to be returning officers in general elections.
Dr Choudhry, who lives in Knowle, was born in Pakistan, went to Knowle Junior School, Redmaids and studied Bristol University.
A doctor of social policy and politics, the 55-year-old grandmother has been a lay member on mental health tribunals across the South West and used to be a non-executive member of the North Bristol NHS Trust board.
She founded the organisation now called Health Links to improve access to healthcare for people whose first language is not English.
One of her aims is to raise awareness for young people suffering mental health issues. She is also looking forward to raising money for the High Sheriff's charity, Bristol Youth and Community Action (BYCA).