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The High Sheriff of Gloucestershire

The role of the High Sheriff traditionally involves attendance at royal visits in the County and support for Her Majesty’s High Court Judges when on Circuit. These days, however, High Sheriffs play an increasingly active and supportive role within their Counties both in relation to the Police and emergency services and in lending encouragement to public sector agencies such as the probation and prison services and to voluntary sector organisations involved in crime reduction and social cohesion.

Charles Martell - High Sherriff

After leaving Shrewsbury School in 1964, Charles sailed aboard HMS Tiger to spend a 6 month stint on the Falkland Islands.

On his return he set out for the High Arctic where he spent 3 months carrying out research into breeding wildlife (including polar bears by default!) on Svalbard at about 80˚north.

The following year he spent 3 months on the Yukon Delta, Alaska living with the indigenous people. Here he carried out research on behalf of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge where he eventually took up a position as a warden.


While at Slimbridge he married and had 2 children, Liz and Charlie, both born in Berkeley. After a spell at University he settled on a little run down farm in Dymock. To get established there he drove a cattle wagon for 5 years and spent 10 years on street markets selling his cheese. He remains on the same farm today with his wife Sasha and young daughter Emily.

As a mere ‘blow in’ from the south coast of England to Gloucestershire in 1966, he was interested to discover that branches of his family had arrived here a long time before him. Just after 1066 the Martell family is credited with building a church near Northleach. Furthermore his mother was descended from the Dymoke family which originated in Dymock. The Dymokes (or variously Dymock, Dimmock) are the family of the ‘King’s Champion’ a position dating back to the Norman Conquest. The Champion’s duty was to approach the throne mounted and in full armour during a coronation ceremony, to defend the king or queen’s right to be crowned, in physical combat if necessary.  A more recent royal connection was Charles’s appointment as cheesemaker to HRH The Prince of Wales.

Having spent the last 45 years milking his beloved Old Gloucester cows and making cheese, he was very surprised (and of course honoured) when he was approached to take up the position of High Sheriff. He later discovered that some other members of his family had also been High Sheriffs of their respective counties, from the north east of England to the south coast. It explained the mysterious portrait of a family member wearing the same court dress as he will wear during his period in office.

He has long been interested in anything that makes his county distinctive; whether it be Old Gloucester cattle, Gloucestershire Old Spots pigs, Gloucestershire varieties of fruit trees or artefacts such as the Gloucestershire Long Plough. He will now complete the picture, as the duties of High Sheriff involve working to improve the lot of people within the county. 

In addition to resources and initiatives run in the past with previous High Sheriffs, January 2012 saw the launch of the latest initiative of this partnership, 'Getting Court', co-ordinated by the previous High Sheriff, Mark Heywood. This resource is designed for use in secondary schools or colleges and is a series of lessons explaining the workings of the Crown Court system of England and Wales, alongside some innovative lessons to challenge pupils, e.g. to question if they would speak up for justice, no matter what the risk, as well as a host of other related learning opportunities.

The Project fits into the existing PSHE & Citizenship part of the National Curriculum. This resource has been carefully tailored to respond to the curriculum in a way which will provide an introduction for both teachers and students at the heart of its purpose, which is to attend a working Court to see and hear the sometimes harsh realities, of the criminal justice system, being played out. Getting Court is a very easy to use, off the shelf resource, written by teachers who have been supported by professionals who work within our judicial system.

The resource covers the following:

  • What happens if you have to make a choice?
  • What happens if you break the law?
  • What happens if you have to speak up?
  • What happens if you are found guilty?
  • What happens if you visit a court?  

And finally, some assessment for learning ideas and useful websites.

You can read the table of contents of the lesson pack here. One chapter gives guidance for teachers wishing to take students to Crown Court – this includes draft parental consent letters and risk assessments.


Launched across the county in January 2012, this resource was rolled-out to all Gloucestershire secondary schools and the visits have been running since October 2011.

Out of all the replies received from children and young people who have visited the Crown Court in action, through this programme (1 visit is run per month), the following statistics show the impact on these children and young people. To date, a total of 110 children and young people from across the county have been on one of these Crown Court visits.

41 children and young people changed from having a low level of awareness to a high level of awareness of the Crown Court System and how it works in England and Wales

46 children and young people reported that as a result of the Crown Court visit undertaken, their behaviour, or the behaviour of others, will change in the future.

Reasons for this reported change given by the children and young people have included:-

  • It will influence them to behave well
  • More awareness of punishment
  • Aware of consequences now make me think more
  • Was the real world – need to be more like an adult – harsh sentencing for doing things wrong so need to be careful
  • More awareness of punishment
  • Would be punished fairly
  • The consequences of doing wrong scared them
  • Getting in to trouble would affect their future and lifestyle
  • Would be scared of going to prison

Any enquiries about Getting Court training please contact Di Harrill, one of the Lead Teachers on the team, at or one of the GHLL administrators




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