Suffolk: Leading vet Nicholas Wingfield Digby is set to be new High Sheriff

Nicholas Wingfield Digby has been officially nominated as Suffolk's new High Sheriff

Nicholas Wingfield Digby has been officially nominated as Suffolk's new High Sheriff - Credit: Archant

A top vet has been officially nominated as the county’s high sheriff in a ceremony that has been performed since before the Norman conquest.

Nicholas Wingfield Digby, of Kennett near Newmarket, will take on the role next year as one of the latest holders of the oldest continuous office under the Crown of Britain.

Mr Digby’s nomination was confirmed during a prestigious ceremony packed full of tradition at the Royal Courts of Justice - the country’s finest courtroom - on Monday.

The service, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, saw judges and officials don wigs and court clothing designed centuries ago to confirm nominations from across the country for a role that has existed for at least 1,000 years.

Mr Digby said: “It’s very much more real now. It’s one of those curious offices that I don’t think you are in any way aware of until it happens.

“It is a completely fascinating system and one that I shall know much more about in the coming months.”

Mr Digby is a senior partner at Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons in Newmarket after working in the field for more than 40 years.

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He plans on giving up his partnership at the surgery once he takes up his role in March, but will remain with the company as a consultant.

Far from applying for the role, the process of becoming the county’s high sheriff only began for Mr Digby when he took a call two years ago from previous incumbent Theresa Innes saying his name had been put forward.

He said: “Presumably somebody in the county decided I was suitable to be approached. I don’t know quite how your name arrives on the list and the process behind it, but I shall be discovering shortly.”

Before beginning his role, Mr Digby’s appointment will be confirmed in another historic ceremony. During a meeting of the Privy Council, The Queen will ‘prick’ the high sheriffs’ names onto a parchment using a silver bodkin, in a custom that dates back to the reign of Queen Victoria.

The traditional role of the high sheriff was to maintain law and order in the county on behalf of the monarch and to collect and return taxes.

Nowadays, their main function includes attendance at royal visits and supporting courts, but increasingly comes in supporting other public agencies such as the police and emergency services, as well as voluntary groups.

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