Sir Henry Every: Derbyshires High Sheriff
PUBLISHED: 21:24 01 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:59 20 February 2013
Pat Ashworth interviews Sir Henry Every BT who was sworn in as High Sheriff of Derbyshire on 6th April 2009.
Derbyshire's new High Sheriff is not a man to stand on
ceremony, much preferring 'Henry and Susie' to the more formal Sir Henry Every and Lady Every.The Everys have been in Egginton for almost 400 years and Henry is very proud of that continuity. But the original Hall, demolished in 1954, was never part of his own life and upbringing in a family whose motto is Suum Cuique, 'Each to his own'.
The crest is displayed on the doorway of the 17th century house occupied both by Henry's grandparents and parents at various times in their lives. He was born in the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, which makes him 'a good Derbyshire lad', he says with satisfaction, but the family lived in London for a while and also in Cornwall after his father was invalided out of the army.
'We came back here when I was about 13. There's this lovely feeling of permanence that you don't get veryoften,' he says warmly, observing, 'When our youngest boy went to the village school, his dinner lady had been dinner lady for me. I was quite tickled by that. There's a great sense of
belonging, or there can be, if you have known something a long time. 'We're very lucky to live here. I think if you live in a community and are prepared to put something into it,
you get back many times what you put in, in terms of pleasure and achievement.' He adds with enthusiasm, 'Did you notice the daffodils all over the place? That happened because one of our residents was very keen to plant some for Marie Curie, got some helpers and just did it. It's lovely.'
'The Everys were Royalists,' said Sir Henry who made his declaration as High Sheriff in front of the portrait of Sir Simon Every, the family's first baronet. 'He's rather splendid, isn't he,' he observes of the flowing Cavalier locks and regal pose. Susie's family come from Huntingdon, birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, and Susie and Henry are equally proud of the photograph that stands on a table nearby of her own father as High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, taken by Lettice Ramsey, sister of Archbishop Michael
Henry will be the seventh member of his family to hold the position of High Sheriff, the first being Sir Henry Leigh in 1612. Family members present at the ceremony included son Nicholas, and sons Edward with his wife Sosennah and Jonathan with his wife Adele, as well as Henry's 97-yearold
mother. His chaplain is the Revd Stewart Rayner, recently retired Rector of Egginton and Etwall, and Henry will have an army cadet appointed to him, 16-year-old Lance Corporal Ashton Searcey.
'I hope she'll be able to join, participate in and accompany me on a number of formal engagements,' he said. 'It's a great accolade that she's been selected for this role and I hope she'll get a great deal out of being part of something that is special and unusual.' He is enormously looking forward to the role. Sir Henry is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales, a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants and holds the Freedom of the City of London. He has been
closely involved with the National Memorial Arboretum (NMA) since its inception at Alrewas in 1995 and spends around three days a week there as consultant for special projects.
The centre, taken over by the Royal British Legion in 2003, has seen a huge rise in visitor numbers since the Armed Forces Memorial was dedicated in 2007. A 10 million Appeal was launched on 24th April to provide for vital improvements to facilities. Henry, who was on the panel which chose the design for the Memorial and who initiated the stunning FEPOW (Far East Prisoners of War) Memorial
Building, will be making the Arboretum one of his special charities as High Sheriff. 'It's rapidly becoming the nation's centre for Remembrance and we desperately need improved facilities worthy of that, which visitors might reasonably expect,' he says.
After his name was approved by the Queen, Sir Henry said 'I am very much looking forward to serving the people of Derbyshire over the next year and to finding out more about the contribution made to the life of the county by the very many voluntary and statutory bodies which contribute to the richness of Derbyshire.'The traditional High Sheriff's role was supporting the judiciary. It finds a
modern application in Crimebeat, set up in Derbyshire by a former High Sheriff, David Wigglesworth, and adopted by half the High Sheriffs in the country.
National Crimebeat encourages young people to become
involved with crime reduction activities and create safer communities.The Audit Commission's recent report on gangs and the crime stemming from young people's involvement in them, is something the organisation will be
examining closely to see what part it can play with the Police and other agencies.
There's a delicate balance to be struck between the formality of a role where the High Sheriff is appointed by
the monarch and 'enjoying the role,' as Henry puts it: essential in a year in which High Sheriffs in Derbyshire can
find themselves doing up to 200 engagements.
He will heartily enjoy one of his first engagements, a centenary rally of 150 Morgan motorcars from Repton to
Malvern, where the first cars were made and a strong engineering link forged. 'I've been asked to wear my regalia and wave off the race, then do a quick change, jump in a Morgan and get driven down to Malvern to unveil a plaque,' he says. 'It's really going to be fun.'
He is also 'seriously thinking' about doing an abseil down the tower of Derby Cathedral. 'Susie will tell you that if I am required to climb a ladder and clean the gutters, I am the most pathetic jelly that ever there was,' he says cheerfully. 'I'm no good at that sort of thing. But I've rather set my heart on this, so I'm going to do it. There's even talk of my doing a sky dive - which will definitely be in
tandem and probably with my eyes shut.' Jumping out of aircraft is 'pretty low down Susie's list,' he acknowledges,
'but I'll certainly encourage as many people as possible to jump with me, or pay a fine for not jumping!'
Returning to more serious matters, he reflects that 'Derbyshire has a large number of people, very often unsung, who are doing a great deal in their own way, very possibly unpaid or underpaid, and they are what make the
communities in which we live. 'Sometimes these communities are seemingly better run and have advantages; some have few advantages and are in desperate need. In these cases, it's an even greater accolade for those that come forward and put themselves in the firing line to help. I would love a chance to meet some of these and to say thank you. I think a High Sheriff can be a sort of glue in the community, to bind people together, in a sense.'
He resigned two years ago from the Parish Council, of which he was a member for 20 years, though he has been closely involved in a seven-year project raising substantial sums for the extended and refurbished village hall. He is a governor of Repton School and chair of Derby Cathedral Council, which, combined with his role at the NMA, will require some spinning of plates during his year of office. 'But most of us do that in some way, don't we?' he observes. Susie is a part-time practice nurse in Derby and will be continuing to do that, at least for a while.
The couple will meet hundreds of people during the year and Henry acknowledges, 'Susie will tell you that I'm probably the world's worst at names. She's very good and nudges me to tell me the name I should remember. I've been bad at names for so long that I can't truthfully put it down to advancing years. He will ease back on some of his
business commitments, and hobbies and interests might have to take a bit of a back seat. His fondness for history
has developed into an interest in military history since his involvement with the NMA - 'I'm not a military person but you can't be on the edge of military things and not take an interest.'
He doesn't golf, shoot or fish, but he and Susie do 'a bit of walking' and he acts as her gopher in the garden - 'She's a great gardener and works incredibly hard. I cut things up and mow the grass. My efforts are generally pretty much below par, but we try,' he says. Of his other interests, he says, 'I have to say this next bit very quietly, because I'm something of a groupie for Nottingham Forest. But I do always look for the Derby County score and like them to do well. When Derby and Forest are playing, a draw is the best
Every family has its eccentricities, he cheerfully observes, admitting to his own family being 'a bit cranky.We have a gun room with no guns in it; we have a shed in the garden that we call the bus shelter but without a bus; we have a
rose garden which used to have roses in it but now has very few.We have another shed we call the kennel, but there's no dog in it. And we have an orchard with one fruit tree.Wonderful.'
THE OFFICE OF HIGH SHERIFF
The Office of High Sheriff is at least 1,000 years old having its roots in Saxon times before the Norman conquest. It is the oldest continuous secular office under the Crown. Originally the office held many of the powers now vested in Lords Lieutenant, High Court Judges, Magistrates, Local
Authorities, Coroners and even the Inland Revenue.
The Office of High Sheriff remained first in precedence in the Counties until the reign of Edward VII when an Order in Council in 1908 gave the Lord Lieutenant the prime office under the Crown as the Sovereign's personal representative. Lords Lieutenant were created in 1547 for military duties in the Shires. The High Sheriff remains the
Sovereign's representative in the County for all matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order. The selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually by the Sovereign in a meeting of the Privy Council when the custom of 'pricking' the appointee's name with a bodkin is perpetuated.