A NEW High Sheriff of Surrey has been sworn in, the 10th woman to fill a role that dates back to 1066.

NHS doctor Julie Llewelyn took over from Woking businessman Shahid Azeem on Thursday last week, in a coronavirus-safe ceremony at the University of Surrey.

She will serve in Surrey’s oldest ceremonial role for the year 2021-22, representing the county during royal visits and supporting the work of charities and voluntary sector organisations.

With COVID-19 restrictions allowing just a few people to attend the socially distanced installation, the ceremony was filmed by students and live-streamed on the high sheriff’s website and social media.

Mr Azeem handed over the chain of office during an event that was attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Surrey Michael More-Molyneux, Judge Robert Fraser, Under Sheriff Caroline Breckell and the high sheriff’s chaplain, the Rev Beverley Hunt.

Dr Llewelyn has lived and worked in Surrey for 25 years and lives in Hambledon with her husband Jeremy and their three children. Originally from Worcester, she is a member of the Royal College of General Practitioners and has specialised in research and clinical work to help people living with diabetes.

For the past 20 years, she has worked in various voluntary roles for charities in Surrey and has been a board member of the Community Foundation of Surrey since 2013, and its vice-chairman for the past five years.

Her theme for her year in office will be Every Child Included, with the focus on education. “In Surrey each and every school week of each and every school year, two or three children reach the very end of their mainstream education journey,” she said. “They are permanently excluded from school.

“Our most vulnerable children are most likely to be permanently excluded and the pipeline out of mainstream education is also a pipeline out of mainstream society and into antisocial behaviour, offending, involvement in ‘county lines’ and, all too often, a place in one of the county’s prisons.

“I have promised to support the judiciary, police, probation and prison services, emergency services and many charities. I will work to join the dots, bringing together all those involved to develop the solutions that Surrey needs and then support those responsible for implementation of the solutions.”

Mr Azeem said he had seen the very best in the people of Surrey and how the communities pulled together to help each other during such a difficult year of the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, he praised the public services and faith groups for joining forces to keep people fed.

“I took over as High Sheriff of Surrey just as the first lockdown started and thought to myself ‘It's going to be a difficult year, how can I make a difference if I can’t be out there in the community?’,” said Mr Azeem, who is charman of Woking Asian Business Forum and runs the company Arcom IT.

“We have endured a whole year with some form of restrictions, but it has been a year that has brought out the best of our county. The situation the pandemic has caused has given us a chance to reset the way we conduct our lives. I am overwhelmed with a sense of pride at what I have seen in Surrey during the past 12 months.”