The head of a leading Cumbrian hotel group has been appointed the High Sheriff for Cumbria for 2018-19.

Simon Berry, the English Lakes Hotels Resorts and Venues managing director, has taken up the prestigious, ceremonial role.

The new High Sheriff undertakes a range of ceremonial duties throughout the one year appointment, including attendance at royal visits to Cumbria and escorting high court judges on circuit in the county.

High Sheriffs also actively lend support and encouragement to crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and to the voluntary sector. In recent years High Sheriffs in many parts of England and Wales have been particularly active in encouraging crime reduction initiatives, especially among young people.

Simon Berry said: “It is a real honour, not only to have been nominated for the role in the Royal Courts of Justice in the first place, but also now to step into it for the next 12 months.

“As with most High Sheriffs, I have a particular interest in the law and supporting local services such as the police, especially in the prevention of youth crime and helping to ensure that young people in this great county get the opportunities in life that they deserve.

“I also look forward to getting involved in helping community foundations and local charities that work with vulnerable people, both in endorsing and in raising the profile of their valuable work.”

Mr Berry runs the family hotel business, English Lakes Hotels Resorts and Venues, with his brother Tim. The hotel group has been in the Berry family for more than 60 years.

The new High Sheriff and his wife Diana live in Troutbeck and have three sons, Robert, who runs his own business, Ben, a local councillor, and Elliot, founder of the Noah Initiative, a charity which helps fatherless children and young men in western Kenya. Elliot will serve as Simon’s chaplain for his year in office.

The traditional role of a High Sheriff goes back 1,000 years and is the oldest secular office under the Crown. The role used to represent the principal law enforcement office in the counties, but over the centuries most responsibilities have been transferred elsewhere, so that its official functions are now largely ceremonial.

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’.