Preston businessman takes on high sheriff role

High Sheriff of Lancashire Peter Mileham
Image caption Preston businessman Peter Mileham is Lancashire's new high sheriff

For the next 12 months, businessman Peter Mileham will serve as Lancashire's high sheriff.

The origins of the office of high sheriff go back to Saxon times where the role was to maintain law and order and collect taxes for the monarchy.

Mr Mileham, from Preston, is a former national president of the British Chambers of Commerce and one of his key aims is to ensure that the county remains a "thriving business centre".

A new high sheriff is chosen annually in a meeting of the Privy Council and it is the custom for the Queen to prick the appointee's name with a bodkin, a type of needle.

"Ancient role"

There are 55 high sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales.

Mr Mileham's main formal duties will include attending any royal visits in the county and supporting High Court judges if they are on duty in Lancashire.

In becoming the county's latest high sheriff, the former business leader continues a tradition stretching back to at least the middle of the 10th Century.

In the past they had many of the powers now held by Lord Lieutenants, High Court judges and magistrates, local authorities and coroners.

Mr Mileham said: "I've lived and worked in Lancashire most of my life. It's tremendous to be invited to take up the role of high sheriff.

"This is an ancient role steeped in history and tradition and I am honoured to be part of it. I will of course be keen to support the county council, organisations and unsung heroes who make our county the vibrant place it is today.

"As a former businessman, I'm also keen to ensure Lancashire remains a thriving business centre. I want to do all I can to encourage young people into business."

For much of his working life, Mr Mileham worked for Liquid Plastics Ltd in Preston, which makes specialist coatings for the construction industry. He retired from the company in August 2008.

In 2009, the University of Central Lancashire presented him with an Honorary Fellowship to acknowledge his services to commerce and industry.

Mr Mileham will be sworn in at a special ceremony on Tuesday at Preston's County Hall.

He replaces Dennis Mendoros, who has been Lancashire's high sheriff for the past year. One of Mr Mendoros's last engagements was to welcome Prince William and his wife-to-be Kate Middleton on their official visits to Blackburn and Darwen on Monday.

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