Community News From Around Our Area

Magistrate Receives Award from High Sheriff of the West Midlands

A woman who served as a magistrate in Coventry for almost three decades has been recognised for her contribution to the Bench by the High Sheriff of the West Midlands.

Sue Jeffs JP was presented with an award by Louise Bennett OBE DL at the Magistrates Association Coventry and Warwickshire Centenary Celebration, held at Warwick’s medieval Lord Leycester Hospital.

The event also celebrated the centenary of women in the magistracy. It was hosted by His Honour Judge Andrew Lockhart QC and attended by some of the country’s most senior magistrates and members of the Judiciary.

Among them was the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, the Rt Hon Lady Justice Thirlwall DBE, who delivered a keynote speech on the contribution of the magistracy to the criminal court system.

Sue was presented with an award in recognition of her commitment to law and order in Coventry over almost three decades. First appointed to the Bench in 1991, she was a presiding justice in both the city’s youth and adult courts. After retiring in 2018 she became the first ever Retired Magistrates Officer for the Coventry and Warwickshire Magistrates Association.

As part of her role Sue organised lunches for retiring magistrates as well as twice-yearly afternoon teas for up to 50 guests.

The event of Covid saw her role as Retired Magistrates Officer naturally evolve and she went on to organise rescue missions throughout the pandemic. These ranged from helping retired magistrates with shopping for essentials, to transporting them to and from hospital appointments.

This latest honour came on the back of another major award for Sue. Last year she received national recognition from the Magistrates Association when she won Retired Magistrate of the Year.

Louise Bennett said, “It was not until 1919 that women were allowed any kind of role in law. But in just over a century, they have given so much to the magistracy and in fact now make up well over half the number of magistrates in the country.

“It has been an exciting journey for women and Sue herself played an important role in that journey for almost three decades.

“This is yet another great honour for a very deserving lady who has given so much to the Coventry community for more than a quarter of a century.”

Also at the event were local schoolchildren from Park Hill Junior School in Kenilworth. The children have been learning about the role of the magistrates and the courts in society as part of the Magistrates in the Community project, which aims to engage young people in the work of the magistracy and help them to learn more about its role in society.