The new High Sheriff of Clwyd has pledged to work with schools across North East Wales to help keep young people on the straight and narrow.
Zoë Henderson, 60, a former executive with the giant US-based Dow Chemical Corporation, has hit the ground running by arranging a series of meetings with head teachers at the area’s secondary schools.
She held the Declaration to begin her year in office at historic 15th century Nantclwyd y Dre, in her home town of Ruthin.
Her own education began at Llanbedr village school in the Vale of Clwyd before going on to Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin and she joined Dow after graduating from Wye College, part of London University, with a degree in Agricultural Economics.
She spent many years in sales and marketing roles across the USA and latterly back in Europe before stepping down from Dow, buying the family farmhouse, historic Caerfallen near Ruthin, from her parents and restoring it.
Zoë said: “I plan to take a particular interest in what causes young people to get into trouble with the law and what can be done to prevent this.
“The last thing you want is for a child in their teens looking forward to a wonderful life in the world of work to then see that future blighted by involvement in some sort of crime.
“I was very inspired recently by a visit to my old school, Brynhyfryd, to discuss local issues and I’m looking forward to visiting other Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire and Wrexham schools to discuss the issues faced by young people.”
She succeeds former Airbus UK executive Steve Thomas, from St Asaph, but 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.
The Queen appoints the high sheriff of each county of England and Wales by ‘pricking the vellum’, a custom dating back to the reign of Elizabeth I who signified assent by piercing the vellum or parchment by each name and signing the document.
It was in the reign of Elizabeth I that Zoë’s home at Caerfallen was built as the residence of Robert Turbridge, an earlier royal appointment as Baron Exchequer of North Wales with the job of collecting the taxes in recognition of his “constant diligence about the Queen’s affairs in said counties.”
Her duties as High Sheriff will also include supporting the Lord Lieutenant, Henry Fetherstonhaugh, in the event of any Royal visits to North East Wales and to sitting with and supporting judges and magistrates.
Her involvement in legal affairs will be supported by the Under-Sheriff of Clwyd, Sarah Noton, Managing Director of North Wales and Cheshire law firm Swayne Johnson.
Zoë added: “The official charity of High Sheriffs is Crimebeat and Crimebeat North Wales celebrates 20 years this year and in that time has issued grants worth more than £130,000 to projects mostly run by young people and aimed at cutting crime, supporting the victims of crime and improving life in communities across North Wales.
“I want to continue that work and also from my business background ask if we can promote that work better and do some things differently which might be more effective.
“I think I can do that and it gives me a real focus on ensuring that Crimebeat is fit for the future and for the differing needs of different parts of North Wales.”
Zoë, a keen horsewoman who has ridden all her life including during her time in the USA where she lived in Indiana in the Mid West, has kept busy since leaving Dow, first on the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board and more recently on the Board of Natural Resources Wales as well as doing business consultancy work.
She has also been gradually restoring Grade Two Star-listed Caerfallen and its buildings, including a 16th century barn which is now a beautifully appointed holiday property.