High Sheriff of Oxfordshire

The current High Sheriff of Oxfordshire is Richard Venables

Richard Venables is an Oxford-based businessman who is also a keen participant in Oxfordshire’s economic development, sporting and cultural life.

Richard attended Woodstock Primary School, New College Prep School and St Edwards School before gaining a degree in geography at Exeter University.  He worked in London briefly where he became a Chartered Surveyor in 1991 and returned to work in Oxford in 1993.

He lives in Islip where he has been a Parish Councillor for many years.  He is a Board Member of Experience Oxfordshire and of Oxfordshire Sport and Physical Activity, a member of the Ashmolean Corporate Council, Chairman of the Oxfordshire business network Reciprocate and until recently a Board Member of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.  He is also a member of the Oxford Youth Partnership. He is a keen runner, participating in the weekly Oxford parkrun and also plays hockey for Oxford Hawks Hockey Club where he has been an assistant coach for many years.

Richard was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant in 2016. He is married to Kate and has two children.

The office of High Sheriff

The office of High Sheriff is the oldest secular office in country outside the monarchy. Today, the former very extensive powers which the office enjoyed have gone and the role involves a mix of ceremonial, charitable and community functions. The role is voluntary, unfunded and non-political.

Duties include:

  • Participating in civic and community events and functions
  • Offering encouragement to those who are engaged in supporting the voluntary sector and those most in need
  • Pursuing themes and initiatives which bring communities together and benefit the social fabric of the county.
  • Ensuring the well-being of High Court Judges when in Oxfordshire

High Sheriff in Nomination

Sylvia Jay was a senior civil servant working in Whitehall and Paris until 1995. She entered the private sector as Director General of the UK Food and Drink Federation in 2001. She has served as a non executive Director of a number of large companies and continues to be on the Boards of Lazard and the Casino Supermarket Group.

Her voluntary work has mainly been to do with prison reform and conservation of churches. She is married to Michael, former UK Ambassador in Paris and head of the Foreign Office, who now sits as a Cross Bencher in the Lords.

Shrieval Remembrancer

Oxfordshire does have a Shrieval Remembrancer however, who undertakes many of the Under Sheriff's functions and is currently His Honour Judge Julian Hall.

Nominations open for High Sheriff’s awards

The purpose of these awards is to recognise people in Oxfordshire who have made outstanding contributions to the communities in which they live and work. Nominees will usually have had a high impact on the lives of others over a sustained period of time and will be recognised by other people working in the nominee’s area as inspirational and as setting an example for others to follow.

High Sheriff’s Awards will not normally be made to people whose work and commitment has already been recognised by the award of a National Honour or by bodies such as the Police, the Fire and Rescue Service and Oxfordshire Charity and Voluntary Action.

Nominations are welcome for people who have made outstanding contributions to any aspect of community life but this year nominations in the following area will be particularly welcome.

  • Individuals who are, or have been, involved in crime reduction projects, whether in prevention, rehabilitation or support for the vulnerable.
  • Individuals who have helped the homeless into work and/or accommodation.
  • Individuals who have helped turn around the lives of addicts.


Nominations closed 11 January.