Shropshire Star

New High Sheriff of Shropshire is determined to help others

October 7, 2020. It was a date Brian Welti will always remember with a feeling of immense pride and anticipation.

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It was the start of a journey which has brought him to another special point in a life which has already been fulfilling and one which is now set to bring even greater rewards.

“I recall vividly receiving a phone call from Dean Harris, who was the High Sheriff of the ceremonial county of Shropshire from 2020-21.

“I can remember the date and always will, because Dean was calling to inform me that I had been nominated for the role of High Sheriff.”

Surprised and hugely honoured, Brian took time to ponder the conversation overnight, considering the role and its responsibilities.

“Having thought about it, I spoke to Dean again and said: ‘Yes. It’s a huge honour. Thank you for asking me!’”

It was the start of a lengthy process, of deliberations and checks prior to office.

Brian Welti and his family

It has now resulted in him taking on the prestigious role, one which is steeped in history.

The office of High Sheriff is non-political and unpaid. No part of a High Sheriff’s expenses fall on the public purse. It is a royal appointment, made at the Privy Council by the Sovereign, where the custom of the monarch ‘pricking’ the appointee’s name with a bodkin is perpetuated.

The modern word for sheriff, which means keeper or chief of the county, is derived from the Anglo Saxon words ‘Shire-Reeve’.

The Shire-Reeve, in the days of King Alfred the Great of England, in 871, was responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing the king’s orders.

Today there are 55 High Sheriffs serving counties of England and Wales each year and, while duties of the role have evolved over time, supporting the Crown and the judiciary remain central elements of the position today.

At the heart of the role is the opportunity to serve and give something back, which Brian has already achieved in various guises during a rewarding life to date.

“I want to make a difference by listening, networking, highlighting, connecting, supporting and, most importantly, thanking those who give so much to the ceremonial county of Shropshire,” Brian says as he now begins his year in office.

“It is an amazing honour and I need to make the most of it,” he adds. “I want to make a difference in my own way. Every High Sheriff makes a difference."

High Sheriff for Shropshire Brian Welti pictured at Oswestry School..

“There’s no question about that and no one is better or worse than the one before. But we all fulfil the role very differently because you all have different interests, so that’s only natural.”

Interests are something which Brian, who lives in Ellesmere, has always had in abundance.

He was a member of the Retained Fire Service and finally retired last August after 35 years, serving in Shrewsbury, Wem and, from 2007-2023, in Baschurch, with 12 years as Watch Manager.

“This is something I have always been very proud of and enjoyed from the moment I joined to the time I left,” Brian says.

“I miss it greatly, not only the variety, unpredictability and unexpected nature of being a firefighter but also the people and the camaraderie. It gave me a buzz and a huge amount of satisfaction because you are part of a crew, helping people.”

Brian was also invited to be a Governor at Oswestry School in 2013, becoming Chair of the Finance and General Purposes committee and then Estates committee. He’s still there today.

He became a magistrate in November 2007, sitting at Shrewsbury, Oswestry and Market Drayton. That evolved to sitting at Telford court and occasionally Kidderminster, although he can’t sit for a year while fulfilling the High Sheriff role.

“I’d like to think we can, while making sure justice is served, also provide words of wisdom and advice to get people back on the straight and narrow so they never go to court again,” he adds.

Brian was also co-opted to join Baschurch Parish Council in 2018 and became chairman in 2021. He stood down in September as he is not allowed to be involved in political activities during and for six months prior to taking on the High Sheriff role.

Brian Welti

With voluntary work, on top of his business – Woodfield Events Management Ltd –  you wonder quite how he manages to fit so much into 24 hours a day and how he has achieved such a great amount with so many organisations during his life.

Hobbies such as a canal boat and vintage cars are on the back burner for a time. And yet it’s the fact he has lived such a rich and rewarding life, supporting so many, which makes him a perfect fit for the role.

Despite career success in various forms, he remains humble and says: “I would like to think I can mix with and talk and relate to anyone.”

You get that impression from chatting to him and he hopes the fact he is relatable will ensure he can help a wide variety of groups and organisations within the ceremonial county of Shropshire.

Born just outside Bedford, Brian moved to Shropshire in 2002 to help his brother Stephen build and develop the Welti Club, which has since become the Shrewsbury Club. Stephen had moved to the county – Bronygarth – in 1979 with their mother Pam, who herself set up Brookside Country Club.

“People still ask me now if I’m Pam Welti’s son or Steve Welti’s brother,” says Brian, reflecting on his family’s strong association with Shropshire.

Family, incidentally, is something which is extremely important to Brian. He has three children and four grandchildren. Rebecca, 35, a show manager for RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival is married to Freddie, with new born son Alfie.

Tom, 33, who lives in Whittington, works at Cholmondley and Houghton Estates and has a partner Emma and children, Oscar, nine, Luna, seven, and Raffy, five, while Sam, 30, is an Investment Portfolio Manager who lives with partner Niamh in Edinburgh.

“Family means a lot to me,” Brian reflects. “They have all done very well and I am very proud of them. They are very supportive of me and especially with me undertaking this office.”

Invitations are already coming in thick and fast to attend groups for general visits or opening ceremonies, as well as speaking at functions. And he is already focused on helping specific causes.

Farming, for example, has been a key part of his life. He attended Shuttleworth Agricultural College from 1978-1981 and was president of the Student Union, meeting the then Prince Charles. Brian was involved in farm management from 1981-2002, which evolved into estate management in 1995.

High Sheriff for Shropshire Brian Welti

He managed the Old Warden Estate, Bedfordshire, hosting the CLA Game Fair in 2001, which introduced him to the world of events.

“I grew up next to a farm, where I spent all of my childhood, and that is where I got my interest in agriculture,” he says. “So I want to support RABI  (Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution).

“I want to do all I can to help them. Shropshire is very rural and agricultural and because of my own interest in farming, I felt it was something I wanted to home in on.

“If you have a personal interest, it drives you and it’s easier to talk about. I have an empathy for the farming community. RABI supports a whole range of people within the community, of all ages, helping them cope with issues such as the loneliness of working on a farm. I want to emphasise their work. I want to raise awareness of the issues faced by the farming and rural communities which are often hidden or misunderstood.

“I am also supporting the Shropshire Community Foundation, Alzheimer’s Research – which my mother died from seven years ago –  the Firefighters Charity, due to my links with the emergency services and the High Sheriff’s national charity Crimebeat.

“I want to raise the profile of the emergency services, both blue light and voluntary, and to focus on The Red Cross, St John Ambulance, West Mercia Search and Rescue, Street Pastors and more. There are also incredible organisations who help reduce youth crime. There are just so many brilliant volunteers. This county and society would not operate without a voluntary sector. The amount of time people give voluntarily is nothing short of incredible. I want it to be part of my mission to find them and recognise and thank them.”

Having been a volunteer himself, you can be assured Brian will do his upmost to ensure he shouts from the rooftops about the work of as many of the county’s unsung heroes as possible.

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