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News and Events

When 'life' happens - sometimes good, sometimes not so good - we want people to know as soon as possible.   This page shares news about the Association, past and current Sheriffs, the Cities and Towns to which they belong and any events that may be of interest to our Members. 

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Past Newsletters


Firstly, updates from the Chair of NACTSEW, David Brown.  Read his latest newsletter from Summer 2023 using the link below. 

York's Assize of Ale 2023


to the

Assize of Ale

   In the court of the Sheriff of the City

    and County of the City of York.


Whereas by Licence and Charter of his late Majesty Henry III of that name, the King’s Sheriff of York has full correction, punishing hearing and determining of all manner of felonies, trespass and extortions in the City and County of the City of York; and

Whereas by custom and practice of the City and County aforesaid the said Sheriff shall give notice to her Lord, the Mayor, of his deeming it right and proper to hold an Assize of Ale; and


Whereas the said Sheriff has, by these presents, given notice to her Lord, the Mayor, that she thinks it right and proper and fitting that an Assize of Ale shall be purposed to be taken;

It is hereby ordered and decreed that you, our right trusty and well beloved own kindred freeman shall be seized of the Office of Serjeant of this City for the purpose of the said Assize.

And it is further ordered and decreed that our Serjeant shall present herself in full and goodly apparel, before the said Court at the Guildhall, York, for the purposes of the said Assize at 2.00 pm on Saturday 19 August in the year of grace 2023 and shall carry with her a goodly goblet and shall take with her such porters and other diverse persons as shall be meet and proper for her to acquit herself of her duties in the said Office of Serjeant.

And it is further ordered and decreed that the said Sheriff shall hold an inquest when the said Court is most full of most honest persons and the said inquest shall be charged to enquire of the prices and wholesomeness of ale in every degree as it shall be purveyed in this our City and when the inquest has been taken, its verdict shall be delivered up to our Lord, the Mayor.

Under peine and forfeit and penalty.

That if you, our right trusty and well beloved, shall not be presented as aforesaid, or in any wise shall not be to the Sheriff seeming right and fitting to the said Office, then the King’s Sheriff shall have judgement to go to the pillory at the will of the said Sheriff and the fine shall belong to the Sheriff:

By Order

Sue Hunter

By the grace of God and the pleasure of His Majesty
Sheriff of the City and County of the City of York

Given at York this nineteenth day of July in the year of grace 2023

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If you wish to take part in the Assize of Ale, and would like to accompany the Sheriff to test the ales in the city’s hostelries, medieval costume is very much encouraged.


Please could you also let know if you will be in attendance.


Here are some places to hire costumes, with discounts for the Assize.


Fantasy World

Unit H Auster Road

Clifton Moor


YO30 4XA.    01904 621328

Will give 15% discount if you mention Assize of Ale


York Theatre Royal Costume Hire

Unit 3

Birch Court

Osbaldwick Link Road

York YO19 5JA

Offering 10 % discount

Something Good


Congratulations to our Honorary Life President Andrew Gravells for his MBE awarded in the Queens Birthday Honours List 2020. The honour was awarded to him in respect of his public and political service. He is pictured receiving the award from Princess Anne

Southampton is Awarded Lord Mayor status

On 20th May 2022, Southampton was awarded Lord Mayor status as part of the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Civic Honours.  Her Majesty the Queen was the final decision maker. 


Southampton City Council’s bid demonstrated the city’s proud and distinct identity, a  welcoming and friendly character, and a passion and commitment to the Mayoralty and the important role it plays in bringing people and communities together.


The bid also laid emphasis on the importance the City places on protecting its history, traditions and heritage whilst encouraging growth and opportunity for the future. 


Only two Lord Mayors have been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen in the 21st Century, and Southampton is the first English city to receive the honour since Exeter in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year of 2002.  It joins 27 of the 63 districts with city status in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland that are headed by a Lord Mayor. 

The title of Lord Mayor will be taken by the current Mayor, Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Sheriff of Southampton in 2021-2022 once the 'Letters Patent' has been presented to the city.   

Berwick-upon-Tweed's 2021 Sheriff, Canon Alan Hughes is the chosen Chaplain for the new High Sheriff of Northumberland, Colonel James Royds.  Colonel Royds was installed in an ancient ceremony at Hexham Abbey on Saturday April 9th. He and Canon Hughes have served together in various military roles for over 35 years

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Sheriff of Berwick, Canon Alan Hughes stands to the left of the newly appointed High Sheriff of Northumberland, Colonel James Royds.

The year is proving a busy one with many traditional ceremonies in which to participate across the county of Northumberland.  Recently the Legal Services have been held in Durham Cathedral, Newcastle Cathedral and York Minster where Canon Hughes was reunited with the Sheriff of York, Suzie Mercer. 


Councillor Jacqui Rayment, Sheriff of Southampton in 2021-2022

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Something Sad

Giving thanks for their lives and to the service they gave to their communities and to the Association

Cllr Chris Thomas

We were very sad to hear of the unexpected death of a very active Member of NACTSEW, Cllr Chris Thomas, Haverfordwest.  Tributes have been paid to the Town's Sheriff who served in Office for three periods: from 2015 to 2016; 2018 to 2019 and 2019to 2020.

It is understood that he died on Sunday, November 21 following a short illness.

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Chair of NACTSEW in 2015, Peter Barrett was a very active and enthusiastic member of the Association and a valuable member of the Lichfield community.  We were saddened to hear of his death in September 2021, just prior to the AGM and Conference.

Obituary - Les Burden, Poole
(our old Ref!)

Poole's councillors are sad to announce the death of former Mayor and Sheriff, Les Burden who passed away at his home on 29th December.  Les was elected to Poole Borough Council in 1999 and was Sheriff of Poole in 2003-4 and then Mayor of Poole 2004-5.  Following his retirement from  the Council in 2019 Les continued to be a fully active member of Poole and Cherbourg's Twinning Association.  Many of you will remember Les for being a very active and proud member of NACTSEW and attended most, if not all the AGM weekends camping nearby in his trusted camper van with his beloved wife Mary Rose (RoRo).  Les played a key role in the arrangements and organisation of the Sheriff's Convention when it was Poole's turn to host in 2015.  He was immensely proud of the event and especially the record turnout of 190 guests. 

Les was a very keen footballer and was a professional referee, of which he frequently reminded people, especially during any unruly meetings when he would hush proceedings with an unexpected blast of his ref's whistle and threaten a yellow card!

Latest news

From Berwick:

Past and present Sheriffs of Berwick-upon-Tweed together celebrated their 39th Sheriff's Club dinner in April.  The dinner took place at the Guildhall where much of the 2022 AGM will take place. 


Guest speaker was the current High Sheriff, Colonel James Royds to whom the current sheriff, Canon Alan Hughes is serving as Chaplain.   The two have served together in various military roles for over 35 years. 










Also, it is with deep regret to announce that Sheriff James Armstrong passed
away yesterday morning, the day of our 39th Sheriff's Club of
Berwick-upon-Tweed dinner, after a short illness.  A farmer who was
Sheriff to his close friend and fellow farmer the late George Miller (mayor of the former Borough of Berwick-upon-Tweed 1988/89).  He
leaves a widow Joyce and two sons David and Neal and their  families.

James's late father was Sheriff of Berwick-upon-Tweed 9 years earlier in 1079/80

berwick dinner.jpg

Left to right standing, former Sheriffs Ian Hay, Andrew Swinburne, Lance Robson, Robbie Dalgleish Judith Eltringham, Martin Warner.Seated left to right Jim Smith, Canon Alan Hughes, Colonel James Royds, High Sheriff of Northumberland and David Wilson

berwick dinner_edited.png

Photographs by by Canon Alan Hughes

Sue Hughes, Sheriff of Berwick's consort with High Sheriff, Col James Royds

And now, sadly we have just lost another Berwick member. 


It is with deep sadness that we announce that Sheriff John Reay passed away, peacefully at home on Sunday, 1st May 2022.

A former senior partner of the Berwick Solicitors T.C. Smith, John leaves a
widow, Hilary and family.

An officer of NACTSEW for many years, John and Hilary are well known
throughout  the NACTSEW cities and towns.


Chester's Annual St George's Day Dinner

The City of Chester Sheriffs' Association held their annual St. Georges' Day Dinner at the Mill Hotel, Chester, on Saturday 23rd April 2022, having had to miss both 2020 and 2021.  It was a great delight that amongst the  select guests the Sheriff's Association were able to welcome the National President, Cllr Andrew Gravells, and also the National Chairman Cllr David Brown with his wife Cllr Joanne Brown (now the new Sheriff of Gloucester) who had all travelled up from Gloucester to join the event.  

Guest Speaker was Dame Lorna Muirhead, the past Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, who gave a wonderful account of her life and also told guests about her many meetings with Queen Elizabeth II.   Jeannie Storer reports that members had "a lovely dinner with superb company, but everyone agreed that the speaker was the highlight of the evening."

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