A procession marked the start of Worthing's first ever high sheriff's judges service this afternoon.
The traditional church service, which is organised by the high sheriff of West Sussex, took place at Christ Church in Grafton Road.
The service is typically a tribute to the community, court judges and magistrates and this year’s sheriff – Caroline Nicholls – brought it back to her home town.
Mrs Nicholls said: “The Judge’s Service has roots which stretch back hundreds of years and I’m delighted that Worthing, as my home town, and Christ Church is able to host the event for the first time.
“It creates a wonderful opportunity to pay a tribute to all those in the community who work to protect us and keep us safe – and to all those who volunteer.”
A procession was held from St Paul’s Community Hub in Chapel Road to the church before the service.
It was joined by Worthing mayor Paul Baker, mayors from other West Sussex towns, judges, representatives of Sussex Police and West Sussex Fire Service, Worthing Police Cadets and the Worthing Town Crier, Bob Smytherman.
“It creates a wonderful opportunity to pay a tribute to all those in the community who work to protect us and keep us safe – and to all those who volunteer," Mrs Nicholls said.
Its October setting marks the start of the legal year.
Worthing mayor Paul Baker said: “The Judges Service being held in Worthing is a tremendous honour for our town.
"I would like to thank the high sheriff of West Sussex for deciding to hold the service in her home town this year.
“On behalf of the town I would like to welcome all the judges and civic leaders to Worthing and hope they enjoy their day.”
The voluntary office of high sheriff is more than 1,000 years old and is an independent royal appointment for a single year.
The origins of the office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown.
Today, there are 55 high sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales each year.
As ambassadors for law and order, high sheriffs give active support and encouragement to the police and emergency services, to the courts and to the wide range of voluntary work within their communities.
The service has been created by the high sheriff’s chaplain reverend canon Jonathan Baldwin, who is also chaplain at Gatwick Airport, with the reverend David Renshaw, vicar of Christ Church.
It was attended by the lord lieutenant of West Sussex Susan Pyper, the vice lord lieutenant of East Sussex Sara Stonor, the high sheriff of East Sussex major general John Moore-Bick and the high sheriff of Hampshire Mark Thistlethwayte.
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