Banner image: High Sheriff in Nomination Russell Beard and outgoing High Sheriff Lady Jane Clifford with Grant Sorrell, Commercial Director, and James Russell, Forest Director of the Forest of Marston Vale, at Queens Wood in Ampthill.

For over a decade, High Sheriffs have marked the end of their tenure by planting trees at one of the Forest of Marston Vale’s community woodlands and on a warm, grey afternoon on 21st March, we welcomed outgoing High Sheriff Lady Jane Clifford and High Sheriff in Nomination, Russell Beard, to Queens Wood, Ampthill.

Together with Lady Clifford’s husband, Sir Timothy Clifford, they planted 10 Oak trees to commemorate Lady Clifford’s shrieval year. They were joined at the event by members of the Forest of Marston Vale’s team including Forest Director, James Russell, Commercial Director, Grant Sorrell and Digital Assistant, Hannah Davies.

The date chosen for the event was particularly appropriate as it coincided with International Day of Forests. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 21st March the International Day of Forests in 2012, and on this day thousands of people around the world get involved to shine a light on one of our most precious natural resources - forests. The Forest of Marston Vale have planted over 2 million trees in the 61 square miles that makes up the forest area and have taken tree coverage in the area from 3.6% to over 15% in under 30 years.

The 2023 theme for International Day of Forests is “Forests and Health” and the pandemic highlighted the importance of green spaces in helping to combat isolation, and promote mental health and physical wellbeing. Trees play a vital part in combatting the climate crisis and Lady Clifford was particularly excited to hold office in the year of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and was especially keen to support the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, ‘Plant a Tree for the Jubilee’.

The High Sheriff of Bedfordshire takes office each April for a term of one year and remains the Sovereign's representative in the county for all matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order. This position dates back to the Saxon times and remains a royal appointment made in the Privy Council by the Sovereign.

Lady Jane Clifford served as High Sheriff from 3rd April 2022, and was succeeded by Russell Beard who was sworn in on 24th March 2023.

To find out more about the Community Woodlands in the Forest of Marston Vale visit

Images: High Sheriff in Nomination Russell Beard and outgoing High Sheriff Lady Jane Clifford planting at Queens Wood in Ampthill

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