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Rob Douglas, High Sheriff of Surrey, looks back at 2010

PUBLISHED: 10:20 15 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:20 20 February 2013

Rob Douglas, High Sheriff of Surrey, looks back at 2010

Rob Douglas, High Sheriff of Surrey, looks back at 2010

As the Queen's representative in Surrey, the High Sheriff of Surrey, Rob Douglas, gives us his own retrospective of 2010

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2010

As the Queens representative in Surrey, the High Sheriff of Surrey, Rob Douglas, gives us his own retrospective of 2010

At Christmas, I shall be three quarters of the way through my year as High Sheriff of Surrey. It has been a wonderful experience, and I have met and visited so many extraordinary people and places. But two aspects have stood out, both of which have defined Surrey in 2010 for me.

The first has been my involvement with the military, which was quite unexpected. I had not realised the extent of the military presence or heritage in Surrey and, of course, in the current climate the profile of the armed forces is also that much elevated.

A high spot was the opening by HRH Prince William of the new gym complex at Headley Court, near Leatherhead, funded by Help for Heroes. It was both inspiring and sobering to talk to the staff and the military personnel who had gone there for rehabilitation, in most cases after suffering major injuries in Afghanistan. I have been back since.

On Armed Forces Day, I was out in my uniform accompanying the Lord Lieutenant as she inspected cadets at Godalming as part of the Cadet 150 celebrations, while in the evening of the same day I was at Lingfield Racecourse, still in uniform, for a meeting where several races were dedicated to the veterans.

There have been many other similar events and occasions and I know that the people of Surrey have been very generous to the various charities linked to the military for the first time the 2009/10 Royal British Legion Annual Poppy Appeal raised more than 1m in Surrey.

Public sector cuts
The other theme that has flowed through my year is the impact or feared impact of public sector cuts. Surrey County Council has had to reduce the funds available for many of the voluntary bodies that have helped deliver their programmes, and other public sector bodies the judiciary, the court service, the probation service and the NHS are all wrestling with how to prioritise their services to reflect reduced funding.

Whatever is cut has an adverse impact on someone and these are difficult decisions to be made by people who in my experience are committed and caring professionals. The challenge is how to fill the gap.
In a small way, our own charity, the High Sheriffs Youth Awards, has been offering transition funding to organisations that help young people reduce or prevent crime in their areas and which are having to find alternative longer term sources of funding for the future.

Looking forward to 2011, the theme of the impact of reduced public expenditure and how we as a society fill the gap will continue to be a major issue. But I have been impressed just how many people in Surrey give both time and money to voluntary and charitable organisations and I am confident that ethos will be picked up by even more people to meet the challenge.

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