A LEADING figure within St John Ambulance is to become the fourth woman to hold the historic office of High Sheriff of North Yorkshire.

Elise Mackinlay is making her declaration of office before his Hon Judge Hoffman at the Merchant Taylor's Hall, Aldwark, York on Friday, April 1 at 12.30pm.

As the Queen's representative in the county, she succeeds Caroline Thornton-Berry, a Northallerton magistrate whose late husband's father, Trevor Thornton-Berry, held the position in 1937.

Mrs Mackinlay, a 65-year-old mother-of-two from Skelton, York, brings to the role a background in care, having trained as a nurse and been involved with St John Ambulance in North Yorkshire for the past 17 years.

During that time she has held the post of Commander for North Yorkshire and Teesside and represented the North of England on the organisation's Priory Council.

"I feel it is a great honour and I just hope I can serve it well," she said of her new responsibility.

"I do not have burning ambitions for my term because that's not how I see the role.

"It is to support law and order and perhaps promote something with the community, bring to the fore some of the superb things that are being done that people possibly don't know about."

Mrs Mackinlay, who is married to Lindsay, hopes to use her new position to gain a deeper insight into the prison and probation system as well as promote crime awareness among youngsters.

Updated: 10:38 Friday, March 25, 2005