Members of the legal profession from throughout the south east came together for the judges’ service at Chichester Cathedral on Friday.
The annual service celebrates the work of the courts, giving high sheriffs and judges the chance to gather each year.
At Friday’s service, the high sheriffs of West Sussex, East Sussex, Hampshire, Kent and Greater London were present.
The high sheriff for West Sussex, Patrick Burgess, said traditionally the ancient service used to be for high sheriffs to welcome visiting high court judges to the county, but in West Sussex they did it at the end of the high sheriff’s office.
“It’s very much appreciated, but what we’re also doing is spreading it so that in West Sussex we have the tradition of having the judge’s service as the end of a high sheriff’s time, because that means you can invite all sorts of people
you’ve met personally during the year,” he said.
“The judges appreciate it as well because it’s very much a service for them. It’s their day, making them feel they’re working for society, doing it together.”
He was joined by civic leaders from around the county, who led a procession through the city leading up to the event.
Led by PC Jimmy Upton, the procession included the mayor of Chichester, John Hughes, the chairman of Chichester District Council, Martyn Bell, and the chairman of West Sussex County Council, Amanda Jupp.
They were greeted by the acting dean Tim Schofield and Prebendal School’s choir.
The judges followed just minutes after and joined the welcome party.
Then the judges, high sheriffs and civic leaders made their way into the cathedral for the service.
“It’s very much a pledge and acclamation of people’s role in the community and what they’re doing and from the high sheriff’s point of view it’s a thank you for all they’re doing in the community,” said Mr Burgess.
“The cathedral choir performed brilliantly.
“We have a special anthem
that was sung and we have one of the supreme court judges reading a letter.
”Before everybody went in, they were greeted by the children of the Prebendal School.
“I think everybody came away feeling they’ve done something that was worthwhile and feeling in a way that it identifies their role in the community.”
Mayors and local authority chairmen attended, meaning that civic, judicial and community workers all came together.
He said it was ‘very rare’ for all these separate parts of society to come together.
“This is very special and it’s very much the architecture of the high sheriff.”
“It’s always the high sheriff’s privilege of choosing the anthem and the psalms, hymns and prayers so that the whole thing has a flow of thought and theme through the service and that can be very much coloured by the personal approaches of the
The service included a psalm talking about how the ‘just man’ behaves and a lesson from Isaiah about how good people are also compassionate.
Between 250 and 300 people were invited to the ceremony, including people from St John’s Ambulance, Stonepillow, the RNLI and CAB.
Mr Burgess said: “It was a big, big cross section of people who are all working away, mostly for no recognition and reward.”
There was a collection at the end of the event for Chichester homeless charity Stonepillow.