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It’s a first as serving rector installed High Sheriff for Cumbria

For the first time ever a serving rector is to be installed as the High Sheriff for Cumbria at a special ceremony this week.

The Rev'd Richard LeeThe Rev’d Richard Lee, who is Team Rector of Egremont in west Cumbria, will be installed at the ceremony at Carlisle Crown Court on Wednesday 6 April at 4pm.

Richard, aged 64, will serve in post for 2016/17 and takes over from the out-going High Sheriff Mr Sam Rayner.

He said: “During my term in office I’m hoping to explore and experience the vitality of the Cumbrian Voluntary Sector, giving the 'voiceless victims’ in and of society a chance to speak.

“I will also be looking to offer personal encouragement, public acknowledgement and meaningful support to those who maintain the legal fabric of society and those who 'keep us safe'.

“Since coming to Cumbria, as a Parish Priest, I have encountered a formidable sense of strength and resilience from the people I have met in times of joy and overwhelming sadness.

“I want people to be strengthened by their experiences, good and bad, who are still be able to reach their goals in life and have a real sense of fulfilment".

He will be the first serving rector to be installed as High Sheriff since the creation of the county of Cumbria in 1974.

Richard was born in 1952 in Seaham Harbour, County Durham, and was educated at Dawdon Junior Boys School and Peterlee Grammar Technical School, where he was Head Boy.

In 1970 he went to King's College London to study Theology, with the intention of being ordained as a Parish Priest in the Church of England. After one year at Theological College (King's) he was recommended for Ordination.

Later in the same year he met his future wife Deborah Bowers who was reading Medicine at King's. It was noted that Richard was too young to be ordained so he was 'invited' to take a gap year.

He went to St Christopher's Hospice as an auxiliary nurse then to Kenya with Church Mission Society as a volunteer school teacher in Kaloleni near Mombassa.

Back in the UK he went to St Augustine's College Canterbury and completed his training. He and Deborah were married in 1975, the same year that Richard was Ordained Deacon in Durham Cathedral at Petertide. He and his wife moved to St Andrew's Leam Lane, Gateshead, where Deb began her medical career as a Paediatrician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead.

In 1980 Richard joined the Royal Air Force as a Chaplain and following graduation from RAF College Cranwell embarked on a world wide ministry encompassing Europe, North America, the South Atlantic and the Middle East. His final appointment was Resident Chaplain of St Clement Danes, where he was made an Honorary Chaplain to the Queen, and Freeman of the City of London.

Upon retirement from the RAF he was appointed as Team Rector of Egremont and Haile near Whitehaven in Copeland. Deb was already working in the West Cumberland Hospital as a Consultant Paediatrician.

Richard and Deb have four children, all educated at St Bees School, and four grandchildren.

He has maintained an interest in remote and rural provision of medical care and education plus an abiding support for the provision of integrated Hospice Care.

Notes for editors

The High Sheriff is the oldest secular officer under the Crown and the tradition goes back 1,000 years.

Formerly the High Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the post have been transferred elsewhere or are now defunct, so that its official functions are now largely ceremonial.

Today’s duties include attendance at Royal Visits to the county and escorting High Court Judges on circuit in the county.

The office of High Sheriff is held for one year. A nomination ceremony is held each November in the Royal Courts of Justice. Three names are put forward for the Office of High Sheriff in each county and one of them is selected by the Sovereign at a subsequent meeting of the Privy Council, the appointed name is “pricked with a bodkin”.

High Sheriffs receive no remuneration and no part of the expense of a High Sheriff's year falls on the public purse. The Office is independent, non-political and unpaid. High Sheriffs have a particular interest in law and order and pay special attention to the work of such statutory bodies as the Police, the Prison Service and the Probation Service. For further information about the role and history of the High Sheriff please visit the High Sheriff's Association.


For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager on 07469 153658, 01228 815401 or at


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