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News : Swearing in of the new High Sheriff


Wednesday, 4th April 2007
(PR07/0140)

LANCASHIRE’S new High Sheriff will be officially sworn in at a ceremony on Tuesday 17 April 2007.

Mrs Ruth Roderick Winterbottom of Caton, near Lancaster, will continue an office stretching back to at least the middle of the 10th Century.

The High Sheriff is appointed by Her Majesty The Queen in Her right as Duke of Lancaster.

Mrs Winterbottom said: “The office of High Sheriff is an ancient institution of great historic significance to Lancashire and I am privileged yet humbled to hold this prestigious position and to follow in the footsteps of my eminent predecessors.

“During my year in office, I would like to get to know my ‘neighbourhood’ of Lancashire and celebrate all that is good with the people of this county, meeting the people and celebrating their achievements the different cultures thriving here, our industry and vision for the future.

At the installation ceremony, The Queen’s Commission is read and the High Sheriff makes a declaration to “serve The Queen’s Writs and execute the good laws and statutes of the Realm”. The Commissioners will ascertain whether the declaration has been correctly delivered and the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire will then hand present the Sheriff’s Patent, which is Mrs Winterbottom’s authority to act during her year in office.

Although many of the powers of the High Sheriff have been replaced over the years due to the emergence of local government, the police, the Court Administrator’s Office and the Lieutenancy, the High Sheriff still has many significant functions in addition to other important social and ceremonial duties.

The High Sheriff’s main duty is to ‘protect and assist in upholding the dignity and well being of Her Majesty’s Judges and to represent The Queen’s executive powers in respect of the administration of justice in the county’. The High Sheriff is also responsible for the execution of High Court Writs, through the Under-Sheriff.

Mrs Winterbottom (61) is married to Max, the former Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council and Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire. She has two stepchildren and was educated at Ormskirk Grammar School. Her interests include golf (refereeing as well as playing), walking and reading.

Between 1961 and 1965, she worked for Ormskirk Urban District Council as an accounting machine operator, before becoming a police officer for Lancashire Constabulary. Mrs Winterbottom reached the rank of Superintendent and was later the Divisional Commander of Fulwood Division.

In 1995, following 30 years of service, Mrs Winterbottom took up the position of non-executive Director of the North West Lancashire Health Authority and then became Chairman of the Lancashire Ambulance Service NHS Trust until her retirement in October 2005.

However, she has retained her interest in the Service as Trustee of Heart of Lancashire Save A Life Appeal.

Mrs Winterbottom has also been closely involved with Soroptimist International for the past 28 years, a voluntary organisation of women in business, the professions and other aspects of life; and is currently President of the Lancaster Club.

Other positions include:

  • Member of the National Association of Retired Police Officers (NAPRO)

  • Patron of the Lancashire Youth Association


  • In January 2007, Mrs Winterbottom was appointed director to the Management Board of Life Education for Lancashire which is a registered charity providing life and drug awareness education to primary school children.

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