Speech: High Sheriff’s Dinner Opening Address, 25 January 2019

My Lord Lieutenant, High Sheriff, Honoured Judges and District Judges, Mayors and Chairmen, Magistrates and distinguished guests –

Good evening. I am delighted to welcome you all to the University of Surrey.

This gathering represents the kind of partnership between the academy and community that every University aspires to.

At Surrey, we believe that a university’s purpose is to contribute to the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation, and of humanity.

An institution like Surrey is symbiotic with its community. We directly affect the touchpoints of economic growth like health, housing, wellbeing and educational opportunity. Our ambition is to have a rich environment and healthy community surrounding us, which benefit from our presence and our partnership. We work towards this every day.

Our role in the regeneration of Kings College in Park Barn is an example we are proud of. We provide support and inspiration, so students can aspire to more and believe there is a better future for them personally. Impact on society begins with the ‘small’ stories, the personal triumphs, and the local successes that mean so much to individual, family and community.

Education is powerful. It enhances self-worth, increases opportunities and unlocks the mind and the future.

Education gives the displaced a legitimate place in society, and it reduces offending because it offers something of value to be gained by NOT offending.

Therefore education and a society’s commitment to justice are closely interlinked.

Jim Glover’s inspiring efforts as High Sheriff to bring together Guildford’s judiciary, the Surrey magistracy, civic leaders, the University of Law, Royal Holloway School of Law and our own Surrey School of Law are very important. Very little of worth happens if we act alone.  I know this evening will provide many opportunities for networking, and making connections that will have great impact.

Our law students must take every opportunity to engage in community outreach work that meaningfully connects the law with the personal lives of citizens. Law is not an abstract concept, but grounded firmly in everyday life; it makes productive human relationships possible, and regulates society. It touches everyone, on every level.

Practical experience for students with the local judiciary is an investment in the understanding and application not just of law, but of justice. Our task, therefore, is to continue to work together to strengthen the links between the Law School and the legal community, as well as between the University and its neighbouring institutions.

I know first-hand that background and circumstances need not constrain nor disadvantage anyone, and that education is the key to a bright future. I am delighted that Surrey will be part of such a strong partnership to make a better world within our community.

Thank you and enjoy the evening.