Meet the Lancashire rose grower who is the county's new High Sheriff

Catherine Penny will be the next High Sheriff of Lancashire
Catherine Penny will be the next High Sheriff of Lancashire

The new High Sheriff of Lancashire is a local rose grower with a passion for voluntary work.

Mrs Catherine Penny is Chairman of the Shepherd Street Trust, a Preston-based charity which provides funding for children and young people in need of assistance. She has held numerous roles in the voluntary sector.

As the new High Sheriff Catherine is due to be sworn in at a special ceremony on Wednesday April 8, when she takes over the office from the current High Sheriff, The Honourable Ralph C. Assheton TD DL.

Each year the Queen personally appoints the High Sheriff of Lancashire - a role dating back more than 1,000 years.

Speaking about her appointment Catherine said: “I am honoured to have been asked to hold the ancient Office of High Sheriff of Lancashire for the forthcoming year. Since the reign of Henry II, Judges have been sent round the country and been welcomed and entertained by the High Sheriff. I look forward to continuing this tradition and carrying out other official functions.”

Catherine, who lives in the Ribble Valley, has had a career in horticulture. She set up her own plant nursery which specialised in old fashioned roses, including appropriately the Gallica officinalis, known as the Red Rose of Lancaster.

Since selling her nursery in 2002, Catherine has continued to advise on plants and gardening from her home at Dutton Hall.

Together with her husband, Andrew, she has developed and expanded the gardens there, establishing notable collections of trees and shrubs.

They have a Plant Heritage National Collection of Hybrid Musk roses and Catherine is a trustee of Plant Heritage as well as Chairman of the North West Group.

Until recently she was also the Treasurer of the Lancashire fundraising committee for The Art Fund.

One of the main features of the High Sheriff role is to support and promote voluntary work.

In her year in office Catherine has said she would like to focus on matters relating to young people.

The role of High Sheriff is unpaid and voluntary.

It includes a duty “to project the principles of encouraging responsible citizenship and respect for the diversity of the community, which lie at the heart of our constitution”.