New High Sheriff of Lancashire saddles up

Dr Barry Johnson.
Dr Barry Johnson.
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Lancashire’s new High Sheriff has been announced as Dr Barry Johnson.

He will be the first veterinarian to take on this prestigious title.

The High Sheriff of Lancashire’s role stretches back to at least the middle of the 10th century. The office is held for a year and the role is an important part of Lancashire’s heritage.

Preston-born Barry was confirmed as the High Sheriff-elect in a special appointment ceremony carried out by HM The Queen.

He will be officially sworn-in on Friday, April 11 during a prestigious ceremony at County Hall. He will take over this office from the outgoing High Sheriff Ann Dean.

The role of High Sheriff is to ‘protect and assist in upholding the dignity and w! ell being of Her Majesty’s Judges and to represent The Queen’s executive powers in respect of the administration of justice in the county’.

In 1973, Barry started his own veterinary practice in the garage of his parents’ house in Myerscough, which grew to become one of the largest veterinary practices in the north west. It was renamed Oakhill Veterinary Centre when it moved to Langley Lane, Goosnargh, in 1995.

He specialised in farm animals and horses and was appointed as the vet to Lancashire Constabulary’s mounted section.

The practice has other small animal surgeries in Preston and has continued to develop since his retirement in 2007.

Barry has been a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Council since 1985 and was elected as its president from 1993 to 1994, which was the 150th anniversary of the granting of the charter.

A graduate of Liverpool University, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by his unive! rsity in 1994.

The High Sheriff-elect is currently chairman of the international equine charity World Horse Welfare, which operates the largest rescue and rehoming programme of its kind in the UK. The charity is known for its campaigning work and for investing in the education and training of horse owners in developing communities overseas.

Barry has travelled extensively to see the charity’s training courses first-hand and he devotes a great deal of time to promoting the importance and benefits of good horse welfare.

A resident of Bilsborrow in Preston for 50 years and a churchwarden at St Hilda’s Church, he is very much involved with activities and charities in the local area.

He was a founding member and previous president of Preston Amounderness Rotary Club and was made a Paul Harris Fellow for his charitable contribution.

He attended Kirkham Grammar School and was a governor for several years. He is also a Fellow of Myerscough College.

Barry is married to Carolyn, a practising barrister specialising in Family Law from chambers in Manchester.

They have six sons and seven grandchildren – with two more expected during his year of office.

He said: “My wife Carolyn and I are very proud to come from a long line of Lancastrians. I view it as an enormous privilege and honour to be chosen for this ancient and traditional role.

“During my year in office I hope to focus on areas in Lancashire that have particular problems with deprivation to raise awareness about critical problems affecting children in these communities.

“I also want to bring together and help build partnerships for victims and offenders – thereby acting as a catalyst for action and change.”

Although many of the powers of the High Sheriff have been reduced over the years, the holder still performs many important functions.

At the installation ceremony on Friday, April 11, the Queen’s Commission is read in the presence of two commissioners.

The High Sheriff then makes a declaration to ‘serve the Queen’s writs and execute the good laws and statutes of the realm’.

The commissioners will check whether the declaration has been correctly delivered and the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire will then hand over the Sheriff’s Patent, which is their authority to act throughout the year in office.

The office of High Sheriff is carried out on a voluntary basis. The High Sheriff does not receive any salary or expenses.

Historically, the High Sheriff of Lancashire did perform many more functions. However, these have been reduced over the years due to the development of local government, the police, the court administrator’s office and the lieutenancy.