James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Derbyshire High Sheriff

A Deputy Lieutenant of Derbyshire, he served as the county's High Sheriff in 1996-97. The role of High Sheriff is largely ceremonial, entertaining and sitting in court with judges but the holders of the office look for beneficial ways of using their status. John inherited a close involvement with Crime Beat, a strategy to combat youth crime which awards young people up to £500 to for their own projects to reduce crime, vandalism and bullying. Money is provided by the national charity Crime Stoppers but John attracted substantial sponsorship from elsewhere.

The conclusion of an article about John when he was High Sheriff points out his love of the county and reveals much about his positive approach to life:

A champion of Derbyshire, he pronounces, I’m sick to death of people being gloomy. There is so much good being done and people generally are so much better off. I just wish they’d stop grumbling – though I do attribute a lot of it to the media. When Derby won £37 million to upgrade the city, the story was on page eight of the local paper. This is a wonderful place to live. I’d love to see Derby get the Millennium celebrations.

Opera, music, the appreciation of architecture and buildings and keeping this place [Penfield House] going occupy what spare time he has. He is proud of the talents of his wife ... and also of his son ....

As for John, his office requires court dress of the 1830s, with a jacket weighing ten pounds that wasn’t funny in the hot weather. But he adds, I love the pageantry of it all. I’m just planning the High Sheriff’s annual service in Derby Cathedral and I’ve got the Derbyshire Youth Wind Band, Melbourne Male Voice Choir and the trumpeters of the Royal regiment of Wales to do the fanfare. Wonderful.