DORSET’S new High Sheriff says she is proud to be working with Dorset Community Foundation during her shrieval year on a fund that champions the healing power of nature.
Sibyl Fine King took up the office in April and has already been busy meeting people and attending events as the official representative of the Royal Family and the legal community in the county but she said she is especially excited about the partnership with the community foundation.
The Nature Heals Fund, which is being run by the community foundation, is offering grants to grass roots groups and charities who use the benefits of the natural world to benefit communities.
She said she chose to work with the community foundation because of its reputation and expertise.
“I’ve known Dorset Community Foundation for a while and always wanted to work with them,” she said. “I didn’t want to be in charge of everything and wanted to be able to hand something over, which I can do because I trust them. They work with grass roots organisations and they know a lot of people so they have got the right reach and personality. They are very easy to work with and very open.”
Promoting the healing power of the natural world is one of her goals during her shrieval year. She said she is also looking forward to getting out and learning even more about the county she has called home since 1985.
She grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and came to the UK while studying for her Master’s degree in health and fitness management. “As soon as I got to know the area I felt a strong connection with the people and the place,” she said.
After a year of the placement she applied for a newly-created health promotion role working with four GP surgeries that she thought was perfect for her interests and the skills.
After trialling the role with four surgeries she expanded it throughout the county and continued in the role until she had her children. But she was already becoming involved with many of the county’s arts and nature organisations, not only though her interests in both but also in her role as the director of The Fine Family Foundation.
After trialling the role with four surgeries she expanded it to every one in the county and continued in the role until she had her children. But she was already becoming involved with many of the county’s arts and nature organisations, not only though her interests in both but also in her role as head of her family’s charitable trust, The Fine Family Foundation.
She chaired the Kube Gallery at Bournemouth and Poole College and was involved with Dorset Wildlife Trust and has supported visitor centres along the Jurassic Coast at Kimmeridge, Durlston, Chesil Beach and Charmouth.
Another achievement was to bring back Park Yoga from Pittsburgh after she had seen it there on a visit. “I thought it seemed like a brilliant idea so we bought it to Dorset,” she said. “We started in 2017 with one group in Bournemouth now this year we have 27. I went there on Sunday and there were 160 people in the park, it was incredible.
“The idea is Sunday morning, free yoga with lots of benefits for people. It is so welcoming and so nice.”
They work with grass roots organisations and they know a lot of people so they have got the right reach and personality. They are very easy to work with and very open
It was initiatives like this that saw her nominated for the role of High Sheriff three years ago. “I was asked to a meeting at the community foundation but they wouldn’t tell me what it was about,” she said. “They told me I had been nominated and it was totally exciting and overwhelming.
“I had probably met some previous sheriffs but I didn’t really know what the role entailed so they had to explain. I was asking if there was a job description and they said ‘no, you make it your own’ but I was just thinking ‘what?’”
Her three-year wait to take up the office has given her plenty of time to prepare and she is enjoying the opportunity and working to bring nature and healing groups together. “I believe in the healing power of nature through my own personal experience and through seeing some of the incredible projects which are happening around Dorset,” she said.
“I have good relationships with nature organisations but not so much with healing organisations so the idea was to encourage new partnerships that would be good for both.”
Being an American in a very British role doesn’t seem to have phased any of the many people she meets. “In my welcoming speech I talk about being American but when I’m out and about it’s more about being High Sheriff.
“People tell me I might be the first American to be sheriff but I don’t worry about that, it should be about the role and what it represents, not me. It’s a privilege and an honour for me.”
Her previous roles as a health professional and as a young mum, not to mention her love of the Jurassic Coast, has brought her into contact with much of the county but as High Sheriff she is seeing Dorset from a new perspective. “Now it’s a whole new lease of life and I’m seeing all these incredible people doing amazing things and it’s a different vantage point, which is beautiful,” she said.
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said he is proud that another High Sheriff is working closely with him and his staff.
“I think Sibyl is going to be a wonderful High Sheriff and will bring huge enthusiasm and interest to the role,” he said. “I am delighted she has put her trust in us to run her fund and it’s very pleasing that she recognises the knowledge and reach we can give to donors and how easy we make it for them to give.”
More details about the Nature Heals Fund here.
Pictured: Dorset High Sheriff Sibyl Fine King at her declaration at Bournemouth Arts University. She has launched a fund with Dorset Community Foundation offering grants to grass roots groups and charities who use the benefits of the natural world to benefit communities. (Credit: samrose.uk)