20 questions : The High Sheriff of Cheshire

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Jeannie France-Hayhurst is the High Sheriff of Cheshire for 2022-23

1.How are you ? Still flying after the success of the concert, thank you.

Platinum Proms concert at the Cathedral. Image; PictureHouse Films Chester

2.How does someone get to be High Sheriff ? Frankly, I have no idea why I’ve been lucky enough to join the ranks of the amazing people who’ve held this role. I just enjoy being in the swim and genuinely love meeting people. It helps to be inquisitive and to love the place you live.

3.What does your role involve ? Getting out across the county and celebrating the great work that it being done by so many people. Connecting them if it’s useful to do so.

4. What charities are you supporting this year? Just the one : Cheshire Community Foundation as it’s so diverse in terms of all of the groups it helps – from the very young to the very old, the vulnerable to the active, it reaches every part and every need in the county.

5. Favourite place to visit in Chester/Cheshire ? My own garden in the early evening in Summer – with a glass of cool rosé.

6. What do you think Chester does well ? Hospitality and history.

7. What could Chester do better ? Regular and free little shuttle buses for Park and Ride like airport systems. Huge almost empty buses and charges just put people off using the existing system. They could be greener & run earlier and later.

8 . What duties have you enjoyed so far ? Meeting so many interesting people and visiting so many places. I’ve lived in Cheshire for so long but I’m still astonished by the variety, the beauty, the creativity and enthusiasm.

9 If you could time travel, where/when would you go ? I like living in the moment.

10. Which person living or dead would you take for an independent coffee or drink ? Her Majesty the Queen, although she would probably prefer tea.

11..What was the last film you saw and was it any good ? I’ve just rewatched Philomena and it made me cry ( again )

12. Who or what inspired you in your life ? My mother for her strength, independence and always looking outward into the world. 

13..What would you sing on karaoke night ? Thank you for the Music (Abba)

14. You visited Chester a lot in your formative years what do you remember of the old city ? The excitement of a special smart lunch with a white tablecloth and lots of cutlery ( and being told what to use….)

15. How have you coped with the trials of the last 2 years? Lots of emailing and phone calls, a big garden with masses of work to do in it, a family bubble which produced two additional grandchildren to make a total of ten, music, Zoom, a chance to prepare for this year, more reflection time. I did miss real contact with friends and was happy when we could have ‘suppers for six’. I’m now so pleased to be back with people again.

16. Name a famous person you have met. Lots of politicians, some members of the Royal family, quite a few actors but my favourite has to be Gyles Brandreth as he just loves Chester.

Gyles Brandreth at the Cathedral. Credit : PictureHouse Films Chester

17. What do you do to relax ? Swim, walk, garden, read, sing with Decibellas.

18. You are one of the Governors of the University, what does the university contribute towards a vibrant Chester ? The sheer number of fabulous young and lively students walking between classes, volunteering with local charities, going out in the evening as well as a large interested and culturally inquisitive staff : it makes such a huge difference to the life of the city.

19. As you look back on your life and career is there anything you wished you’d done differently ? Never have regrets. Life takes you on all sorts of unplanned adventures. 

20. How do you feel about the future ? Optimistic. Despite all of the world’s problems, people find answers, support each other and have time to smile.

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