In September 2014, the 30th Annual Meeting of the NACTSEW took place in Canterbury and a commemorative book was produced (which formed the basis of this website). We are a unique Organisation amongst people who have been elected or appointed to one of the most ancient of Civic Offices.
Obviously it is a matter of regret that only 16 Towns and Cities in England and Wales have continued to support the office of Sheriff, its customs and traditions. So it is that 15 of them have banded together to help promote and maintain the office of Sheriff within Local Government.
A number of Towns and Cities formed their own local Shrievalty Associations before the constitutionally created National Association. We know that a number had mutual visits and exchanges and discussed shared objectives.
In December 1983, the then Sheriff of Lichfield, Kathryn Duncan-Brown invited other current Sheriffs known to exist at the time to a gathering in Lichfield. The event which took place on the 28th April, 1984 was to mark ‘National Heritage Year.’ There is no official record of that gathering, but a booklet was produced by Lichfield City Council recording the background and history of the Sheriff in each Town and City. For those Sheriffs who did attend it was deemed to be a Civic Duty and some turned up with Robes, Regalia and Civic cars. There was a feeling abroad at this gathering that this should be a regular feature, but nothing was formally agreed or ever followed up.
In 1985 the new Sheriff of Gloucester, City Councillor Andrew Gravells, who had not been involved with the Lichfield gathering, wrote to all of the Sheriffs of England and Wales inviting them to Gloucester for a Lunch and Meeting on April 30th 1985. Andrew said that ‘we could meet together to discuss our roles and problems, and even try to ensure that the office does not disappear altogether, as there are now only a few of us left’.
The meeting in the Guildhall went well, so much so that a Constitution for the NACTSEW was circulated there, by Andrew, and unanimously adopted. The “Gloucester Gathering of Sheriffs” made the BBC National TV news, and Councillor Gravells was unanimously elected the Association’s very first ever Chairman, and later Lila Cooper (Norwich) succeeded him with Andrew being appointed Hon Life President. Other officers were Malcolm Bartram (York) Vice Chairman; Tom Steele (Canterbury) Secretary.
The first General meeting with the newly elected Officers and Constitution took place on the 25th September in Canterbury almost exactly 30 years to the day for its anniversary.
From this beginning the National Association has met every year, visiting each of the 15 Towns and Cities in turn. Membership now stands at 200 and is growing steadily.
Barrie Ferguson, Chairman (Sheriff of York 2000)