Ceremonial role sees titleholder in ancestors' shoes
IT is a prestigious honour stretching back hundreds of years and now a Tywi Valley born man is following in his ancestors' footsteps to take on the title of High Sheriff of Dyfed.
Thomas Lloyd, 56, was inaugurated at Llandeilo's Dinefwr House on Friday by the Bishop of St Davids, Right Reverend Wyn Evans — taking over the role from Pembrokeshire's David Pryse Lloyd.
Ahead of the ceremony, Mr Lloyd spoke about his year ahead and his hopes for his chosen charity Shelter Cymru.
To all purposes the title of High Sheriff is a ceremonial one these days and in Dyfed is shared between the three counties of Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire. Each year the title is rotated between the counties that make up the former county of Dyfed.
Mr Lloyd's first direct male ancestor to be High Sheriff was Rhys Lloyd back in 1632, as High Sheriff of Cardiganshire (before it became Ceredigion). The eldest sons of Rhys Lloyd's family were always called Thomas after that and the following five sons held the title of High Sheriff of Cardigan between 1680 and 1851,
Mr Lloyd works to preserve historic buildings and their heritage and also works across Wales for London auction house Sotheby's valuating fine art and collectibles.
He was awarded an OBE for services to heritage in Wales in 2004. However, he has halted work for a year to be the High Sheriff and will not be funded for the year, having to self finance expenses and payments over that time.
Mr Lloyd said: "The way it works, is that the outgoing High Sheriff nominates someone and then a small board, made up of the great and the good of West Wales appoints you. Over the year, I can be expected to attend more than 200 events and social occasions."
Mr Lloyd was born at the family home at Court Henry, Dryslwyn and spent his childhood growing up dividing his time between London and West Wales.
He said: "My father, Major John Audley Lloyd had been injured in fighting in Burma during the Second World War and then had to take an office job in London, so that is how I grew up, both there and back at Court Henry." He then studied law and classics at Radley College and Downing College, Cambridge.
Following this between 1976 and 1989 he worked as a solicitor at a private practice in London.
Moving to Pembrokeshire in 1989 he has held a number of roles in organisations up to the present day. These have included being a member of the Cadw Welsh Historic Monuments Advisory Committee; non-executive director of the Dyfed Family Health Services Authority; from 1987 he was chair of the British Historic Buildings Trust (a building preservation trust) until 1992 and then its successor trust, the Buildings At Risk Trust until 2008.
Mr Lloyd is also involved in the ongoing project to restore Llanelly House in Llanelli.
Looking at the role of High Sheriff, Mr Lloyd said while today it is very much a ceremonial title, it is still an important job. He added: "I am, I think, the ninth here to promote the county in the work I do. I will attend functions, from all the main mayor making ceremonies to events run by organisations and groups such as the British Legion for example, together with county shows."
Shelter Cymru will benefit from fundraising events run by Mr Lloyd over the course of the next 12 months.
He said: "I chose Shelter Cymru because they do great work in helping people less well off than others and they have offices in Carmarthen.
"It is also their 30th anniversary, so there will be events and evenings held in their benefit."
As well has holding the title of High Sheriff, Mr Lloyd is also the Wales Herald Extra Ordinary.
Again, an historic title, it means anyone wishing to have a family coat of arms created or changed will have to consult Mr Lloyd.
As part of his Herald role, he is currently working alongside the Welsh Assembly to design a new seal to enable it to pass laws following the referendum to have greater law making powers.
He added: "One of the occasions I will attend as Herald will be the state opening of Parliament, wearing the Herald official dress of a regal looking tabard in gold and red."
Before becoming High Sheriff Mr Lloyd said speaking to former sheriffs gave him the sense that there was a lot of good work being done by organisations across West Wales.
"One of the joys of the job will be getting to know about people and groups who work hard for their community or area but don't always get recognised for it. It could be anything, no matter how big or small that they are doing.
"As High Sheriff I can recognise these people at the end of the year as part of the High Sheriff Awards."
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