A year being High Sheriff

Director of Strategic Initiatives, Eamonn O'Neal reflects on his year as High Sheriff of Greater Manchester after being chosen by the Queen for the appointment in 2020.

By Eamonn O'Neal on April 7, 2021

High Sheriff Eamonn O'Neal who is also a Director at St Ann's Hospice

“It was a huge honour and quite humbling to be chosen by the Queen as High Sheriff of Greater Manchester. I have been very grateful to have had the chance to connect and engage with the charitable, voluntary, faith, ethnic, cultural and business communities across the county.  

“The role Office of High Sheriff is the oldest secular title in British history and among the most ancient in the world, dating back more than 1,300 years.  At that time, the Sheriff represented the monarch, collected taxes, raised armies and was the rule of law across the county.     

“I haven’t been collecting taxes, or raising an army, but I have had a unique opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with local communities, charities, good causes and amazing individuals.   

“Being High Sheriff has allowed me to highlight the charities on which I serve as a trustee: The Dianne Oxberry Trust; Caritas; The Brain and Spinal Injury Centre and The Diocese of Salford.  

“I am very proud to have been involved with St Ann’s Hospice for many years, as a patron, Chair of Trustees, Chief Executive and latterly Director of Strategic Initiatives.  I should like to pay tribute to my colleagues at St Ann’s Hospice for the way they look after the communities of Greater Manchester. St Ann’s is one of the oldest and largest hospices in the country and we’re about to celebrate our 50th anniversary.  

“We’re also embarking on a huge capital fundraising project, hoping to build a new hospice, next to the existing one in Heald Green. Thanks very much if you are already a supporter of St Ann’s, your contribution is essential as we only get around one-third of the money we need from NHS contracts. That means we have to raise, with your help £20,000 every single day. 

“In another landmark for me personally, the Sunday morning BBC Radio Manchester programme that I’ve been presenting with Jimmy Wagg for the past 32 years, is coming to an end. We’ve decided to hang up our headphones and make way for the next generation of broadcasters. 

“But before we go, we’ve got one final theatre show at the amazing Stockport Plaza – and every single penny raised will be going directly to St Ann’s Hospice. The date for your diary is Sunday 19 September and tickets are going fast. Please come and join us as we take our final bow. 

As I take of my High Sheriff’s sword and pack away my BBC microphone, I will have even more time to dedicate to the work at St Ann’s and I hope you can join me in continuing to support the hospice’s fundraising challenges. “ 

Our Plans for a New Hospice

Find out more about our exciting new project for a hospice at our Heald Green site.

Find out more