At a ceremony at Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday, local businessman Richard Venables was sworn in as the 2018-19 High Sheriff of Oxfordshire, replacing Jane Cranston. During his year he will run a series of sporting challenges for businesses.
Richard, who is also Chair of OCF’s responsible business group Reciprocate, has an ambitious year of charitable engagement planned. His focus for his High Sheriff’s year will be on youth participation in sporting and cultural activities, with a specific focus on disadvantaged areas of Oxfordshire, disabled participation and highlighting mental health issues in Oxfordshire’s schools.
Richard says: “I believe passionately that sport and physical activity is an essential component to a happy and healthy life and can transform lives. This should commence from an early age and be maintained through to old age. Wellbeing in the workplace is an increasingly understood component to creating a productive and enthused workforce.”
He strongly advocates the benefit of a collaborative approach between business, Local Authorities and the voluntary sector to create successful outcomes.
Richard has already brought 25 different businesses on board to take part in his sporting and cultural challenges, which include a ‘plankathon’, a hockey festival, and a ‘selfie’ art challenge at the Ashmolean Museum. Money raised by the Corporate Challenge and other fundraising activities will be channelled through Oxfordshire Community Foundation to a range of charities that support youth engagement in both sport and cultural activities in Oxfordshire to drive real results. Richard’s chosen charities are Access Sport, Thomley, Artswork, Oxfordshire Mind and Parkrun.
He takes over as High Sheriff from Jane Cranston, who has focused on justice and opportunity during her Shrieval year, and raised over £30,000 for three charities that help reduce the effects of crime by supporting the victims and perpetrators. At the ceremony Jane said: “After a year of being out and about in the county I am both shocked at the levels of deprivation and vulnerability that I find right on our doorstep, but equally uplifted by the care, compassion and dedication that I’ve encountered all over the county. I believe, that in our world full of contradictions and outside pressures Oxfordshire can be proud of itself. Large numbers of people who lead and work both in our statutory services and our charitable not for profit sector do a remarkable job and I have seen this confirmed over and over again in the places I have visited and at the many awards ceremonies I have attended.”
Inspired by everything she learnt during her year as High Sheriff, Jane has now agreed to take a central role in chairing the City Conversation on rough sleeping, which will bring together charities, public sector organisations and members of the public to tackle homelessness in Oxford.