COUNTY Durham’s next High Sheriff has been officially “pricked” into action by the Queen during an ancient ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Gerald Charles Osborne, of Croft, near Darlington, was nominated to succeed Peter Bell, of Durham City, last November and will take over at the end of March.

The nomination was officially confirmed by the Queen on Wednesday (March 5) as she used a silver bodkin to “prick” Mr Osborne’s name, which was on a list written on parchment of all new High Sheriffs for England and Wales.

Legend has it the silver bodkin was originally used by Queen Elizabeth I, who was embroidering when she was asked to mark the names on the list and no pen was to hand.