Meet West Yorkshire's history-making High Sheriff

Susan Baker says she will support organisations helping the vulnerable and disadvantaged


Susan Baker has become West Yorkshire’s first Jewish female High Sheriff.

The former Leeds Jewish Representative Council president was sworn in at Leeds Combined Courts Council, describing the ceremony as “unexpectedly wonderful; very dignified and beautiful”.

It was also “special because it was the first actual ceremony since 2019 due to the pandemic”.
Although the role is now largely ceremonial, it was historically the most powerful position in the shires, with responsibility for maintaining law and order and collecting taxes. The holder was seen as a direct representative of the monarch.

Mrs Baker, 71, said that “having spent so much of my life involved in the voluntary sector, I know how important it is to recognise and thank those people who work tirelessly.

“I plan to spend my year supporting and encouraging small voluntary organisations across the county who do so much for the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society; particularly those organisations who work with young people.”

She is well known beyond the Jewish community, having worked for many years at Leeds Citizen Advice Bureau. She was appointed a magistrate in 1995 and subsequently chaired the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Panel — “a committee which has responsibility for the recruitment and conduct issues of magistrates”.

Awarded an MBE in 2006 for services to the Leeds community, another “amazing day” was receiving her honour from the Queen. “You don’t know until the morning who will be presenting you with the award.”

Mrs Baker is originally from Nairobi. Her paternal grandparents had fled the pogroms of Lithuania at the turn of the 20th century and became coffee farmers in Kenya.

Her husband Alan died in 2018 but her two children and grandchildren joined civic dignitaries at a celebratory lunch after the swearing-in.

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