Herefordshire’s new High Sheriff, Patricia Thomas, has taken office, but without the usual pageantry.

With the coronavirus outbreak in mind, Mrs Thomas made her declaration of office in a low-key ceremony in Hereford without the normal fanfares and grand speeches.

Mrs Thomas said: It is an absolute honour to be appointed High Sheriff for Herefordshire, and in usual circumstances I would be looking forward to a year in the service of Her Majesty the Queen and to our beautiful county, supporting the many and valuable organisations within it. 

"The current coronavirus pandemic, of course, means my plans for the year in office are on hold. 

"As the situation unfolds it is becoming increasingly clear that we must become innovative in how we communicate to ensure no one is isolated nor forgotten, and I will do everything I can provide help and support.”

The ceremony was presided over by the Honorary Recorder of the City of Hereford, His Honour Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC. 

Mrs Julia Steels JP, chair of the Herefordshire Magistrates’ Bench, administered the Declaration of Office.

Mrs Thomas has lived in the county since 1980 and is married to Richie.

In 1989 they took on a small diversification project on the family farm.

From tiny beginnings they grew the business, which is now Thomas Panels and Profiles based in Leominster.

Her theme for her year of office will be Preparing Young People for Work.

The new High Sheriff has appointed the Reverend Andrew Mottram as her chaplain, and her Under Sheriff will be Jeremy Wilding from Gabbs Solicitors in Hereford.