High Sheriff of Rutland Dr Sarah Furness welcomed an American sheriff from Rutland, Vermont, for a three-day visit to the county last week.
Stephen Benard stayed at Dr Furness’s Whissendine home during the trip which saw him meet with local police chiefs, visit tourist attractions, enjoy a trip to the pub and attend a special service celebrating the county at Peterborough Cathedral.
Dr Furness said the visit was organised to build close ties between the two Rutlands, share information and celebrate all that is great about our county.
Sheriff Benard’s visit began on Friday with a private tour of Burghley House in Stamford before lunch at the Old White Hart, in Lyddington and a stroll through Uppingham.
He also enjoyed a visit to Oakham and Rutland Water, and a tour of Belvoir Castle.
Dr Furness said: “Stephen was blown away by the history. He could not believe the beauty of our homes or the age of Oakham Castle, where we were given a special guided tour. It was so interesting discovering the differences in policing between the UK and USA.
“Stephen met Chief Constable Simon Cole and Crime Commissioner Lord Bach at the White Hart in Lyddington and asked them how they managed without guns. Stephen said he would feel naked policing without his.
“However, guns are not part of UK culture and Simon was able to reassure him that in most situations in Britain they are not needed or worn.
“Interestingly both Rutlands have some of the lowest crime figures in their respective countries.”
Dr Furness added that Rutland’s wonderful food was much appreciated by Sheriff Benard – Rutland sausages and bacon are apparently the ‘best ever’.
Stephen particularly enjoyed Rutland Water trout served in great style at the Barnsdale Lodge Hotel where managing director Ed Burrows hosted a dinner for the two Sheriffs and the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland Dr Laurence Howard.
Stephen was also treated to a memorable meal at Hambleton Hall Hotel thanks to owners Tim and Stefa Hart. Stephen is returning to the USA convinced that Rutland is a gastronomic hot spot in the UK.
The highlight of the tour was the service celebrating Rutland at Peterborough Cathedral on Sunday.
Historic and beautiful Peterborough Cathedral, burial place of Catherine of Aragon is Rutland’s ‘mother church’ or diocesan cathedral.
More than 700 people from Rutland attended the service celebrating the county, 159 of them children.
Pupils from Whissendine Church of England Primary School led others from across the county.
Whissendine had particular prominence because for the first time since records began both the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff live in the same village.
A wooden horseshoe, Rutland’s symbol, made by the High Sheriff’s husband, Peter, was presented by Whissendine children at the altar.
They led the prayers and then all the children sang ‘I The lord of Sea and Sky’ on their own before the congregation joined in.
Public services were well represented at the service. Dr Furness was particularly pleased that Chief Constable Simon Cole was joined by local police.
After the service High Sheriff Dr Sarah Furness was made an honorary Sheriff of Rutland, Vermont, USA.
The citation reads: ‘High Sheriff Furness lives up to the standards of honor, selflessness, giving, support of others and integrity that is expected of all. This appointment is an honor that is given for the way one leads one’s life’.
Dr Furness said she was surprised and very honoured and is delighted to be a Sheriff twice over. She hopes links can be forged between the two Rutlands to the benefit of residents on both sides of the Atlantic.