This moment is a huge privilege but at a time of national crisis it is also a huge responsibility.
We have had moments in our nation's history where moments like this, installation ceremonies which have been annual events in Surrey since 1080, have occasionally been cancelled because of civil war, a rebellion, and the threat we face today is no less serious. So whilst I’m disappointed in not sharing this moment with friends and family I know that it’s a small sacrifice to ensure we keep people safe and save lives.
It also seems apt that for someone who has spent most of his working life in IT that we have turned to technology for this installation ceremony with a stream feed on facebook – from Quills to Keyboards.. I would like to say a huge thank you to Peter Smith who is setting up this virtual installation and bringing into your homes.
These are unprecedented times and more than ever we need community, we need bridge builders and those that provide the glue that holds communities together.
Convening, connecting, and creating the conditions to ensure we are all contributing to our communities is what drives me and now as the High Sheriff, I will ensure I am a voice for the police, the prison service, courts, the third sector and charities during my tenure.
So may I take this opportunity to thank the people that today wouldn’t be possible without for help and support - Richard Whittingham, Robert Napier, Jim Glover, Sally Varah Peter Lee and Lord Lieutenant. However, the biggest gratitude goes to the outgoing High Sheriff Bridget Biddell, who has been extremely helpful in engaging me in many events, amazing support from Rachel, Bill, Molly and Chole. There were many events held at Hampton Place, the fresh cookies and the fresh milk long with forest bathing, that I will forever remember. Bridget, you were just amazing as High sheriff and thank you for all you have done and continue to do. I also want to thank my family and friends who have been fantastic support, thanks also to Ray Morgan who has loaned me his PA Emera for the year. I do however feel sorry for Emera - the thought of Frying pan to fire comes to mind!
I would also like to say huge thank you to Meghna Singh - past Police cadet, you have been an inspiration and I welcome Fin Wells as my Police cadet for the coming year along with Reverend Philip Simpsons and Imam Hafiz Hashim as my two chaplains.
My Theme for the year is 'Together we are Stronger'
From the theme the three points I would like to address are: 'Communities', which includes friends, families, volunteers, colleagues and the third sector. 'Making a Difference', THE NHS, emergency services, shops, places of faith, social clubs and community leaders and 'Going Forward'
There will be better times, we will make a difference to our community.
Shahid Azeem DL
High Sheriff of Surrey 2020-21
6th April 2020