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The Baronets Diary January 2024

It is not often that I stay in Derbyshire away from Tissington itself. However , prior to the Tourism Board’s annual Conference in November I had the delight of staying in the Ensana Buxton Crescent Hotel . I cheekily partook of the excellent spa facilities at the Hotel incorporating the sauna, the aroma room, the steam room as well as the swimming pools before we entertained the Director of Regions from Visit England’s Andrew Stokes for drinks and dinner. Joined by four locally based hospitality gurus, we told Andrew of the great pubs, restaurants and attractions that we have in the Peak District as well as the barriers to business as we saw it. The following morning, we hosted 130 delegates to the Assembly Rooms above the Hotel and shared industry data ,best practice and looked at future trends for the year ahead. Hopefully it will be a busy one for all our tourism businesses and our guest left impressed and refreshed as he made his way back to London. If you haven’t already been, everyone should spend at least one night at the extraordinary place that is the Crescent Hotel. See

I had not been to  Derby Grammar School for some considerable time before early November. At that time, in 2003, I delivered  a speech and gave out the prizes to the students on the last day of the Summer Term. I was tempted back to attend a talk entitled  ‘Miner to Cabinet Minister’, a journey from the coalfield to the cabinet room which  was hosted jointly by The Old Derbeian Society and Derby Grammar School as part of the prestigious David Walker Memorial Lecture Series. Students at Derby Grammar School were inspired to aim high to realise their ambitions at this public talk by Rt Hon the Lord Patrick McLoughlin .The former MP for Derbyshire Dales spoke about  his 30-year career in politics having  left school at 16 without any qualifications, following his father and grandfather into mining. A career in politics soon beckoned, and after becoming a councillor, Lord McLoughlin then went on to become Member of Parliament for West Derbyshire. As we know Patrick had an illustrious career holding a number of roles in central Government, including Government Chief Whip, Secretary of State for Transport and Chairman of the Conservative Party as well as Chancellor to the Duchy of Lancaster. The students asked some testing questions (which Patrick took in his stride) but I trust I will return for next year’s Lecture.

As readers will know I am High Sheriff in Nomination for our County for the year 2025/26. There is not a great deal to do until ones’ year actually starts in the April. However, the nomination system does consist of a process whereby the names of all High Sheriffs are read out in Court 4 of the High Court before the Lords of the Council in the King’s Bench Division. For that afternoon the court is reserved for all nominees and their families. The event takes place on the 12thNovember and this time I took Freddie and Francesca and their Aunts to see the spectacle as the Judges troop into Court and the Clerk bellows ‘All rise’. This year there were 400 of us crammed into the chamber as the procedures were followed. We then adjourned to the ‘RAF Church’ over the road at St Clements Danes Church  for refreshments and a chance to meet fellow High Sheriffs in Nomination from the other counties. A fascinating piece of heritage and one that I am privileged to undertake in 2025.

At Tissington we are used to the life-giving water that flows throughout the year down the stream opposite the Hall in the middle of the village. When Storm Babet hurled down its gallons of rain in late October we manged the flow by  madly clearing the gullies and culverts that took the water downhill and downstream. Sadly, one home on the east of the Estate did suffer, despite it being at the top of a hill, as the storm drains failed and the rain diverted through the kitchen of this particular property. I thought no more of it once the clear up had begun except when we were called in the Office about temporary  accommodation for other flood victims in Ashbourne and Fenny Bentley. These two families are now ensconced in two of our holiday homes for the Christmas and New Year period since we had fallow periods. Both of these ‘flood refugees’ had been given little or no risk of flooding from official reports when they bought their properties two years ago. We are pleased to house them as they go through the trauma of sorting out their homes and they are now so well established in our community that they are asked to the Village Party!

To Repton for the funeral of the marvellous Nigel Evans at St Wystan’s Church in the heart of the Village. I knew Nigel in his role as Secretary of the Derby Club that meets monthly for convivial lunches at various locations around the county. Nigel was our Secretary for over 10 years and handled his duties with aplomb and good humour. In the excellent address given by his three children, Tim, Polly and  Sophie, his warmth, good nature and bonhomie shone through. We all send our warmest love to his widow Mary and all the family…he will be much missed.

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