Meet the first black High Sheriff of Hertfordshire

Lionel Wallace High Sheriff of Hertfordshire

Lionel Wallace, the first black High Sheriff of Hertfordshire - Credit: Mark Dalton

St Albans' Lionel Wallace, first black High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, shares his plans for helping the county's youth thrive. 

It's taken around 1,000 years, but you're the first black High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, how does that feel?
We believe so, yes. And I recognise for many this will be a source of inspiration in itself. I want to bring the whole of who I am to the role and most particularly my passion for the investment, development, and wellbeing of young people.

I have a theme, Youth in Herts, which represents three specific pillars associated with this. Firstly, the Young Leaders Award programme for schools, working with the Archbishop of York Youth Trust. Secondly, trying to help entrepreneurial young people develop successful businesses and thirdly providing mentorship to a wider group so that no-one is left behind. I am delighted to have launched this activity with the assistance of The Youth Group.

The role represents the Queen in the county for a year, what do you normally do?
I have always been interested in fixing things, and following a really enjoyable school life in St Albans (Beaumont School), I was inspired by the local aerospace Industry to go into aeronautical engineering, which I remain in today, helping create air mobility for the future. My role is chief quality officer.

You've said your parents have been a big influence on you...
My parents came to the UK from the Caribbean - St Kitts and Nevis - as part of the Windrush generation. One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was the freedom to explore opportunities and be involved in community and leadership activities from an early age.

I did not appreciate its value fully at the time, but I do now. It is for this reason I am convinced that strong and consistent investment in developing the leadership and civic responsibility attributes of young people will transform both their lives and our entire society’s cohesion. 

How will you spend your year in office?   
I plan to meet as many people or organisations as I can to assist with my Youth in Herts programme as well as others who feel that I can assist, particularly voluntary organisations. I am planning a Youth in Herts activity day on August 12 at St Albans Cathedral.

I hope that it will allow us to bring community interaction back to life and particularly showcase some of the key elements of support available to and from young people. The event will also have an international element, being International Youth Day. This day will also be allocated to my High Sheriff Awards nomination programme.

For details of the High Sheriff Awards and the work of the High Sheriff, visit highsheriffofhertfordshire.org.uk

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