Essex welcomes new High Sheriff

26th April 2024

Taking on a role that is steeped in history and making it relevant and a force for good in modern times is a challenge being met with enthusiasm and determination by David Hurst.

He is joining the ranks of men and a few women who, over the past 982 years, have been appointed as High Sheriff of Essex.

Armed with an impressive amount of experience in the business and voluntary sectors, David is aiming to make the most of his year of office and will travel the county, helping to highlight its attributes and its needs.

He said: “I am very honoured to become High Sheriff of Essex. I know my own area, around Southend, very well and I am going to be learning a lot about other parts of the county. It is a great opportunity to see things I haven’t come across before in many different communities.

“I am very keen to support the police, the judiciary and the emergency services, I will certainly be doing that. I also want to encourage people to take up volunteering, the sooner they get into it the better for their community. People sometimes just need some encouragement to realise that there are no barriers, anybody can become a volunteer.”

David has been involved in his own community as a volunteer for decades and has been chairman and trustee with several charities. He is currently president of Southend Round Table 106 and his charitable fundraising efforts over the years led to him becoming chairman of the Southend Community Fund, which is managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

As High Sheriff of Essex, David, who was born and bred in the county, will be raising money for the High Sheriffs’ Fund, also run by ECF, with the aim of promoting crime prevention and community safety in Essex.

His involvement with ECF comes naturally, as he shares the organisation’s aims of supporting local charities and voluntary groups whose work improves the lives of people in Essex.

Putting these ideals into practice, David founded Rochford Rivercare in 2004, to keep the River Roach litter free.

“Quite a few of us now meet in a local farmyard and set out to collect huge hauls of rubbish. It is a challenge, but keeping rivers clean has become something that more and more people are concerned about.”

David also uses his business background, in publishing, recruitment and advertising, to bring a professional slant to the voluntary sector and is keen to see other professionals become involved in local charities, particularly as trustees.

He said: “I have a great deal of empathy for people running charities and understand the challenges they face. I hope that encouraging links and contacts between various organisations and signposting people towards the help they need will be part of my role as High Sheriff.

“It is an unusual role, as it only lasts 12 months and I have some marvellous predecessors. I am not landed gentry, as many have been, but I am determined to do my best. I am aiming to attend around 300 events and will enjoy the opportunity of getting out and about in the county.

“I am also planning a sponsored walk to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of the RNLI. It will be a fairly modest distance of 12 miles and will go via Benfleet, Hadleigh Castle, Leigh, Southend via the pier and will finish at Shoebury station.”

During his year of office David will be supported, as always, by his wife Jane. The couple have been married for 40 years and have two daughters and three grandchildren.

When he attends events, David will be wearing the traditional velvet outfit associated with High Sheriffs.

“It really is a privilege to wear such a splendid outfit, tailor made by a master in the field,” he said.

“When describing the role of High Sheriff, I can do no better than quote Nick Alston DL, a former High Sheriff of Essex. He said the role has been a constant since before the Domesday era but has adapted to modern times and is held in great affection.

“In times of uncertainty- and these are uncertain times – it helps provide continuity and stability.”

Support David

On the 11th May 2024 David invites friends to join him on a walk from Hadleigh Castle to Shoebury Garrison. All proceeds will go to the High Sheriffs’ Fund.

The idea is to meet at Shoebury Station at 8am catch the train at 8.30am to Benfleet and walk back via Hadleigh Castle, Southend Pier and finish at Shoebury Garrison. The walk is approx. 12 miles anyone wishing to shorten the walk can hop on the train at Chalkwell Station at half way point.  Coffee and prawn rolls in Old Leigh. Rossi’s ice cream along seafront,  quick donut by pier and if we’re lucky a glass of something at the new cafes on East Beach at finish!

If you would like to join David on the walk, please register for free here.  You can also choose to give a donation if you wish to. If you are joining David and would also like to raise money in support of the High Sheriffs’ Fund, please ask your friends to visit this page.