County Durham’s new High Sheriff has taken up the historic post, maintaining a family tradition, as he has already done in the business world.

Harry Macklyn Swan, the owner and CEO of family-run business, Thomas Swan and Co chemical company in Consett, follows in the footsteps of his now late father Thomas Macklyn Swan, who served as High Sheriff in 2001/2.

The 48-year-old businessman and chemical innovator, of Gainford, was sworn into office in the largely ceremonial role at Durham Crown Court on Friday (April 5).

Mr Swan takes over from predecessor and former Under Sheriff Anne Elliott, who was present at the installation having just completed her year in office.

The Northern Echo: County Durham's new High Sheriff,  Harry Swan,  centre right, with Judge Christopher Prince and

In a ceremony presided over by Judge Christopher Prince, the court’s resident judge for ten years until 2019, the new High Sheriff appointed the Reverend Antony Philip Kirby, of the Benefice of Holmedale, as his chaplain, while Helen Dexter, of Barnard Castle law firm Tilly Bailey and Irvine, will continue in the role of Under Sheriff.

Judge Prince said his appointment maintains a tradition and continuity, as has been seen down previous generations of High Sheriffs, a post with its origins in the Medieval era.

Looking across the front bench of the court at Mr Swan’s four sons and two-step sons, he said it is a tradition which may well continue in future decades, both for the business and shrievalty, with another member of the Swan family potentially serving, “this greatest of counties”.

The Northern Echo: County Durham's High Sheriff for the year 2024/5, following his swearing-in ceremony at Durham

Judge Prince also spoke of the largesse expected to be provided by High Sheriffs for visiting judges to the county in previous centuries, a tradition which is no longer required to be upheld to such a great level of hospitality in the modern era.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Swan said his chosen worthy cause for his shrieval year will be the County Durham Foundation, with a specific emphasis on local charities alleviating food poverty, which he said, “sadly”, remains a major issue in the county and the wider region.

The Northern Echo:

Having graduated from Durham University with a degree in plant sciences in 1998 Mr Swan held scientific affairs and consultancy roles for London-based companies before joining the family business in 2002 to launch its new carbon nanomaterials business.

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As the great grandson of the founder, “Tommy” Swan, he became the fourth generation of the family to work for the company, becoming managing director in April 2006 and owner and CEO of the business upon his father’s death, in 2018.

He holds many other posts on national innovation and business bodies, while also serving as a member of Durham Cathedral Investment Committee.

A father to Jonty, Bertie, Theo and Otto, he also has step-sons, Ted and another Bertie, to partner Bex Marley, all of whom were in attendance at the court for the installation ceremony.