Next week we’re awarding an Honorary Doctorate to Dr Keith Bradshaw, Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands and High Sheriff. Here Keith tells us about what his roles involve and the work he’s been doing with some of our students…

Today, the role of High Sheriff is wholly ceremonial, but carries the status of being the Queen’s highest judicial officer in the county. An annual appointment, it remains voluntary, unfunded and non-political and involves a mix of ceremonial, charitable and community functions, including: support for Her Majesty’s High Court Judges and attendance at royal visits in the county.

High Sheriffs play an increasingly active and supportive role within their counties both in relation to the police and emergency services and in lending encouragement to public sector agencies such as the probation and prison services and to voluntary sector organisations involved in crime reduction and social cohesion. They are able to bring together a wide range of people within the communities they serve.

I assumed the office of High Sheriff on 22 March 2016. In addition to the main role in supporting the judiciary, forces of law, witness protection and the emergency services, and promoting the relevance of the Shrievalty, during my year of office, I will focus on:

• Multi-culturalism and diversity in the West Midlands, from a variety of stances: the rich and positive contribution that immigration has brought to the county, but also the challenges presented by communities living in silos and the prejudice, ignorance and mistrust that can create
• The interfaith movement which promotes understanding between diverse communities
• Young people: promoting cohesion amongst the current generation
• Advancing the cause of the Coventry City of Culture 2021 bid, which if successful, could bring £130 million to the region
• Support for the Heart of England Community Foundation who will soon encompass the whole of the West Midlands region, leveraging funds for the smaller unsung community charities

Now, about my role as Deputy Lieutenant…

Deputy Lieutenants (DLs) are nominated by the Lord Lieutenant to assist with any duties that may be required. Decades ago, the number of Deputy Lieutenants for each county could be as few as three. Today however, there may be over a dozen that are appointed as the number of DLs today correlates with the population of each respective county. DLs tend to be people who either have served the local community or have a history of public service in other fields.

DLs represent the Lord Lieutenant in his or her absence, including at local ceremonies and official events, from opening exhibitions to inductions of vicars.

My work with Birmingham City University students

I’ve started working with students to help them develop the skills they need for post-graduation, and I’m keen to work with as many more as possible as I continue throughout my year as High Sheriff.

Ryan Bayliss, a Visual Communications student, looks after my website design. He said: “Through this opportunity I have acquired more industry experience and more experience dealing with real life briefs. It’s so motivating working with someone like Keith who is so passionate about Birmingham.”

20-year-old Lesley Imgart is also a Visual Communication student at Birmingham City University and specialises in Illustration. I worked with Lesley to illustrate my appointment as High Sheriff in the Birmingham Courts. She said: “It was a great opportunity working alongside the High Sheriff, I was able to produce quality paid work for my portfolio as well as meet many different people from across the Midlands. It feels great to know that people are willing to support artists, especially students – it makes me more confident for when I graduate.”

Jodie Perkins, a Public Relations student at Birmingham City University, is working alongside me as a PR assistant. Jodie helps to manage my reputation through social media and the news section of the website. She also liaises with the press to help to promote the projects I’m working on. She said: “I’m really enjoying working with Keith, it’s great because I’m getting hands-on experience over a long-term project, meaning I can understand all aspects of a PR role.”

It’s a great honour to be receiving an Honorary Doctorate. It’s a privilege and I can’t wait to enjoy the day.

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