A-Z: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

High Sheriff


The current High Sheriff of Belfast is Councillor Lydia Patterson. She was sworn into office on 17 January 2014 and is the 114th High Sheriff of the city.

Councillor Patterson is a member of the DUP and was elected to represent the Castle area of Belfast.

She was first nominated to the city council to replace Alderman Nigel Dodds in May 2010 and was officially elected in May 2011.

She currently sits on the Health and Environmental Services Committee, Town Planning Committee, the Housing Forum and the all-Party Reference Group on Older People.

Duties and responsibilities

Unlike the Mayoral year, the post of High Sheriff begins in January and ends the following December.

Historically, the position of High Sheriff is one of the oldest secular offices in Britain, dating back to the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898. In 1900, Alderman Sir James Henderson became the city's first High Sheriff.

Today, appointments to the position are made by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, usually upon the recommendation of the council. The role is now largely ceremonial, with the High Sheriff providing support to the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor during their term in office.

Duties include:

  • attending civic functions hosted by the Lord Mayor
  • undertaking specific functions on behalf of the council
  • attending functions in place of the Lord Mayor
  • providing general support to the Lord Mayor.

Addressing the High Sheriff

If you are speaking in public and would like to welcome or introduce the High Sheriff, the usual form of address is simply 'High Sheriff'. For example, "and so, I'd like to welcome Lydia Patterson, the High Sheriff of Belfast."

If you are speaking to the High Sheriff in conversation, the correct title remains 'High Sheriff'.

If you would like to write to the High Sheriff, you should address your letter to 'the High Sheriff, Lydia Patterson'. You should also begin your letter with 'Dear High Sheriff'.

Contact us
Lord Mayor's Office
028 9027 0486
Lord Mayor's Office
Belfast City Hall