The new High Sheriff Jane Cranston, who picks up the baton from Sarah Taylor, will focus her time and energies on a new theme for the coming year: that of justice and fairness of opportunity.
The position of High Sheriff is an ancient ceremonial and charitable post, filled by a different member of the Oxfordshire community each year. Just like her recent predecessors Sarah Taylor, Tom Birch Reynardson and Tony Stratton, Jane Cranston was welcomed to the post during a ceremony at Oxford’s Crown Court on Tuesday, and will be working with OCF throughout the year to channel her fundraising.
After a short spell in France, Jane lived and worked in London for 20 years before moving the wine merchant’s business she co-owned to Oxford in 1988. She has played an active part in local life since then, particularly in education, as she was a governor of St Helen & St Katharine (where she was chairman), The Manor Preparatory School and both Abingdon and Abingdon Prep Schools. She is a Trustee of Vale House Care Home for Dementia, Chairman of her local village shop and Chairman of the newly formed charity Youth Challenge Oxfordshire (YoCO), which works with young people who are on the verge of making some wrong choices. The charity provides an 18-month mentoring programme which ends with a visit to the Nasio Trust in western Kenya, where they can see for themselves what hardship and ‘having nothing’ is really all about.
YoCO will be one of Jane’s chosen High Sheriff’s charities, along with ex-offender project Aspire, and the charity Safe!, which works with young people who have been bullied or abused, witnessed domestic violence, or suffered as victims of or witnesses to other forms of crime. During her swearing-in Jane commented: “These three charities, along with many others, do invaluable work in rescuing vulnerable people who fall through the all-too-many cracks in our society. I, and we, can’t change the world in a year, but I hope to be able to make a small difference in my own corner, and with your help continue to grow Oxfordshire into a county where we pause to engage with our neighbours, and not just look the other way.”
At the ceremony, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson welcomed Jane and paid tribute to outgoing High Sheriff Sarah Taylor, saying: “Sarah has been a most gracious, generous, gregarious, and extremely effective High Sheriff, and an exemplar distributor of Shrieval ‘magic dust’. I have been delighted to witness her countless and thoughtfully crafted speeches, which have helped ensure that everyone she has met now feels more engaged, more valued and more motivated.”
During her Shrieval year, Sarah raised more than £75,000 to support carers in the county, channelling the charitable funds through a named fund with OCF, which provided proper governance and allowed Gift Aid to be collected. Jane has similar ambitions to support her chosen charities, and will continue the relationship with OCF established in 2013 by Tony Stratton during his Shrieval year. We wish her the very best of luck!