A FARMER has been sworn in as the new High Sheriff of North Yorkshire in the presence of the Recorder of York, the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire and a former Cabinet Minister.

Tom Ramsden of Ripon is the son of James Ramsden, MP for Harrogate from 1954 to 1974, who rose to be Secretary of State for War.

The father was at York Crown Court to see the new High Sheriff take over from the Rev Rachel Benson, who has held the 900-year-old post for a year.

The audience also included Lord Crathorne, who is shortly to step down after 15 years as Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, and the ceremony was presided over by the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst.

In her farewell speech, Mrs Benson paid tribute to the young people she had met through her work as High Sheriff.

"There is a great deal of good in the next generation," she said.

She arranged a visit by sixth formers to see the crown court in action and was impressed by young people's voluntary work for their community.

Mr Ramsden, who was High Steward of Ripon Cathedral for ten years, hopes to raise the profile of the arts and their contribution to charity and to those on the edges of society during his year as High Sheriff.