OTLEY AND DISTRICT MEN’S FORUM

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High Sheriff of Yorkshire

 Mr Roger Bowers

21st Jan  2010

Without a six gun or a Stetson in sight, but dressed in his official uniform and armed with his sword Mr Roger Gordon Bowers, High Sheriff of West Yorkshire from April 2008 to April 2009, came to our meeting to tell us about his year in office.

 Initially we heard that the office of Sheriff was started in 992 AD by King Canute who appointed Ethelred as his Sheriff ; thus it has become the oldest continuous secular office in England. Before Gordon Bowers the last local man to hold the office for West Yorkshire was Walter Hawkesworth Fawkes in 1932. Via the Mayflower the office of Sheriff spread to America where it was promoted by Hollywood to found the legends of the Wild West. Even the word “posse” was derived from the Latin “ posse comitatus” ( males at the Sheriff’s disposal for suppressing riots).

 Wearing an outfit first designed in 1770 is not easy and has many negative aspects both in procurement and wear. We heard the humorous side of having to wear tights, buckled shoes, and a powder pouch before Mr Bowers told us about the more serious side of his office.
Although the office has a ceremonial role it also has a strong role in the area of law and order.

Mr Bowers attended our two Crown Courts in Leeds and Bradford, entertained Crown Court Judges and spent a lot of time with the local police forces. He was given an insight of  community police work and visited many desperate estates, known to some people as benefit factories, and dangerous areas, of which Chapletown was the worst. From seeing the police work in these places he developed a tremendous respect for them and their crime prevention and reduction operations. But he also found that volunteers were also of great importance in running the many Charities that help the disadvantaged, idle and foolish. He found that the Street Angels, a Halifax based charity, is one of the best.


From two serious but enjoyable talks this year we have a third that is pure entertainment when Clive Roberts will continue his “Hollywood Memories” on Thursday 4th February.

We are still in Otley Civic Centre and will meet there at 10-00am.

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