From left, High Sheriff’s chaplain the Rev Gerald Reddington, chairman of magistrates Philip Keen, IW Lord Lieutenant Maj Gen Martin White, new High Sheriff Nick Hayward, resident judge Roger Hetherington, recorder Nicholas Atkinson and under sheriff
WIGHT LIVINGTO BE personally "pricked-out" by Alan Titchmarch — now that’s an honour.
To be correct about it, it is really the queen, who in age-old tradition uses a silver bodkin to "prick-out" high sheriffs in formal recognition of the choice of who will take on the ceremonial role.
But the term is apposite in relation to the TV gardener.
It is actually the new incumbent who chooses who will follow him, or her, in four years’ time, and so it was Titch who picked up the phone.
Nick Hayward was panting his way up a steep hill in Alsace with a group of cycling chums when it rang.
Nick and his wife, Nicky, had retired from the Seaview Hotel where they endeavoured for 25 years to put into practice their ethic of "giving back" to the community.
He was only too happy to accept the Titchmarsh invitation as part of that, and so, on Monday — before the great and the good — he signed the declaration to begin his year as the Island’s new high sheriff.
The Haywards had already launched themselves, with some gusto, into their Schools for Africa project and during his year he will be supporting young people’s initiatives on the Island.
In his declaration speech, he spelled out his priorities of enabling young Islanders to have greater knowledge of, and respect for, the law; as well as helping them manage their finances as they head for college or university.
At the other end of the age spectrum he will focus on the importance of giving loving care, with dignity, to elderly people.
He will be using the Shrievalty (as the high sheriff's office is known) as a vehicle for that three-pronged effort.
In practical terms that means organising a mock trial competition for all the schools and sixth form colleges on the Island with the final taking place in November.
And the prize? — a very shiny piece of IW-blown glass by Diamond Isle on an oak plinth made by Marcus Matthews and paid for by Island company Rouse Ltd.
Just a small example of our new sheriff’s belief in supporting Island enterprise.
He’s been working with retired judge Tim Milligan, who now lectures in law at Portsmouth University, and his under sheriff, Island coroner and solicitor John Matthews, on that one.
The 'trials’ will be staged in court and Mr Hayward hopes that will build knowledge and confidence and a reverence for the law.
Mr Hayward’s signing of the official declaration took place in the law court, where he outlined his support for DebtCred, a company closely associated with the Shrievalty, which prepares young people for university life or employment by teaching them about the sensible use of credit, financial management and the hazards of big debts.
His third focus is the high proportion of the Island’s community who are retired and live on fixed, and very limited, incomes.
"For many people getting old is extremely worrying and with the constantly rising utility costs, many can ill-afford to keep warm. In conjunction with the Community Foundation I hope to highlight their Surviving Winter Campaign," he said.
He told the declaration audience: "The foundation are trying to encourage the likes of you and me, who benefit from the Heating Allowance, to donate it back to help the less fortunate meet their heating costs."
During his year he will also promote Age Concern’s Good Neighbour Scheme, which helps elderly people stay in their own homes in their latter years.
He is already one of the mainstays of the IW Youth Trust, which supports troubled young people here. And he is able to reflect on the contrast between the villages in Africa he visits where children regard simply having a school to attend as a privilege and a joy.
All this will come during a busy year which includes the diamond jubilee, the queen’s visit to Cowes on July 25 and the London 2012 Olympics.
And that’s not to mention his daughter, Jules’s, decision to get married, slap, bang in the middle of his year.
All that will mean his visits to Cameroon will have be put on hold.
That comes at a time when the Building Schools for Africa charity, which Nick helped found in 2006 with Ian and Marianne Johnson. passed the £600,000 mark, boosted recently by hefty, corporate donations.
That has so far helped build 40 new schools, helping to transform thousands of lives.
Nick, Nicky and Jules recently spent three weeks in Africa where they saw some of the results of what their charity has achieved.
They paid their own expenses to get there, which is part of the ethos of ensuring the money raised is actually used for what it was intended.
They’ll never grumble about Island roads again. In Cameroon, if they are not rutted mud they are pothole-riddled tarmac.
On a ten-hour journey from Bamenda to Yaounde, the Haywards passed nine fatal accidents, including a coach which collided with a bulldozer. The resulting blaze killed more than 50.
That followed their night flight landing at Douala International Airport.
The packed Air France 737 was just about to land when all the runway lights went out, along with all the lights in Douala. It was pitch.
There was a dramatic struggle by the pilot to pull the plane up and wait for power to be restored, before trying again.
All very different to civilised Seaview where Nick arrived as a baby over 60 years ago.
In the village the very warmest welcome for visitors would be a pale winter shadow of the genuine warmth of Cameroon, where those who have very little give much of themselves.
That is one thing Nick will really miss during his term of office.