THE new High Sheriff for the coming year is a keen cyclist, and in preparation for his role cycled to all 216 civil parishes in the county.

Joe Barclay was officially declared into office on Tuesday in Aylesbury, taking over from Sir Stuart Hampson.

A procession took place from the Judges Lodgings to the Crown Court in Market Square.

Aylesbury student Catt Shutter sounded the fanfare for the High Sheriff, which was specially composed for Sir Stuart by Kathy Gifford of the Aylesbury Music Centre.

The office of High Sheriff is an independent non-political Royal appointment for a single year and there are 55 in England and Wales.

The new High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Mr Barclay, lives in Latimer with his wife, Joanna and their border terrier. They have three children and a grandchild.

In preparation for his role he cycled to every civil parish in the county and in Milton Keynes- 216 in total.

Mr Barclay said: "I did it for several reasons. I had recently retired and wanted to get slightly fitter and I wanted to get to know the county where I was going to be High Sheriff.

"It not only helped the waist line a bit but I also visited a pub every for lunch- 35 different pubs as well as 216 parishes."

Mr Barclay started his career in banking and went on to work at Oxford University.

He said he feels very proud, honoured and challenged to become High Sheriff.

He said: "The main role of High Sheriff is supporting law and order in the county- that is things like the police, the prisons, the courts, the probation service- everything to do with law and order.

"In addition to that the modern role of High Sheriff is supporting the charitable sector too. In that respect I am going to have my main area as supporting the community foundations.

"The Shrievalty covers both Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes- so there are two community foundations."

In May he will be doing a sponsored cycle ride for the foundations.

Sir Stuart Hampson, who lives in Bledlow Ridge, said it has been a great privilege to be High Sheriff.

He said: "It was the end of a very fulfilling and challenging year and I am pleased to be able to make a contribution to the county in this way.

"It has been a busy year. I have done over 250 engagements, 54 of them wearing full court dress all over the county and a vast array of different activities."

The origins of the office date back to Saxon times, when the ‘Shire Reeve’ was responsible to the king for the maintenance of law and order within the shire, or county, and for the collection and return of taxes due to the Crown.