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New High Sheriff of Lancashire proud to hang her shield in home city of Lancaster

Helen Bingley OBE DL JP, High Sheriff of Lancashire, at the ceremony on Friday.

The new High Sheriff of Lancashire said it was a great honour to hang her shield at Lancaster Castle in her home city.

Helen Bingley OBE DL JP, from Lancaster, received the Lancashire High Sheriff's Shield at the Castle on Friday.

At a ceremony each year, the shield is hung in the Shire Hall with those of the High Sheriffs of the past.

Mrs Bingley said it was "a great honour and privilege to hang my shield in the Shire Hall at Lancaster Castle with a thanks giving service at the Lancaster Priory and a lunch at Lancaster Town Hall".

"Thank you to all who came and supported me and to all who helped to make this such a special day."

Mrs Bingley, pictured below, will be in the role of High Sheriff for 2024/25. 

She received her OBE in 2018 for voluntary services in the UK and abroad.

Her career in the NHS saw her rise through the ranks from from nurse to executive director, chief executive and non-executive director of several NHS trusts in the Northwest, including Calderstones, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, Guild Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

She more recently worked for NHS England to support NHS trusts with challenges and recently appointed in a voluntary capacity as lead for the VCFSE on the Provider Board of the Integrated Care Board for Lancashire and South Cumbria.

Alongside her professional career Helen has done voluntary work for the likes of Amnesty International, Cumbrian mental health charity Mind in Furness and the Children of Russia Project – for which she received an accolade from President Yeltsin in 1993.

Here is Helen hanging her shield in the Shire Hall at Lancaster Castle on Friday.

Twenty five years ago, an NHS colleague Dr Mukhtiar Zaman, took her to Shamshatoo, an area just outside Peshawar in Northwest Pakistan and she was deeply moved when she witnessed the plight of these people, living and working on or near the brick kilns in such poverty that their life expectancy was 38 years.

Her compassion inspired her to throw herself into improving their lives, and together she and Mukhtiar set about finding like-minded people in Lancashire and set up the Abaseen Foundation.

The Abaseen Foundation is a charity that for more than 20 years has provided health care and education for people born into a life of extreme poverty with no option but to work in the region's brick kilns. Helen devoted more and more time to the charity's work, eventually stepping back from full time NHS management and in 2017 the charity and the volunteers from across Lancashire and beyond received a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

A quarter of a century on from that first trip, she is now the charity's CEO, leading a large group of supporters, volunteers, and trustees, mainly from the Pakistani and Indian diaspora in Lancashire, to support these people in northwest Pakistan. 

She is a major advocate of the voluntary sector locally, and is vice chair for Mind in Furness, a Cumbrian based mental health charity in Barrow in Furness, Millom and Ulverston. In the past she has led a nursing home-based charity supporting people with mental health issues, and Prospect House, a Lancaster charity helping people with alcohol issues.

She has active roles in developing international, national, and regional health care, management training and the legal sector as a magistrate – something she has relinquished temporarily whilst she is the High Sheriff of Lancashire.

"This is a county full of opportunity, my motto is Carpe Diem – seize the day - and if you can seize the day, in Lancashire you too can aspire to become High Sheriff one day," said Mrs Bingley.

"I went from being an ordinary little girl in Lancaster, with ordinary parents, to being a senior manager in the NHS and charity sector and now becoming High Sheriff of Lancashire. My beginnings were nothing special, yet I have achieved so much living in the County of Lancashire. I truly believe that I am not unique, that Lancashire County is a place of opportunity for everyone, and I hope to inspire people across the county to aim high as in Lancashire. My journey is evidence that anything is possible."

The High Sheriff, dating back to at least the 10th century, is the King’s representative in the county for all matters relating to the Judiciary and the maintenance of law and order. In current times the office of High Sheriff is held for one year. His/her main role is to protect, and assist in upholding, the dignity and well-being of HM Judges, as well as undertaking other public duties, including the support and encouragement of the voluntary sector and the emergency services.

The office of High Sheriff is carried out on a voluntary basis and the holder does not receive any salary or expenses.

Pictured below outside the Castle at Friday's ceremony are Lancashire Police Horses 'Banks and Hutton' with Lancaster Neighbourhood PCSO 7102 Woody. Image from Morecambe Area Police.

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