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High Sheriff

High Sheriff, Alderman Tommy SandfordThe current High Sheriff of Belfast is Alderman Tommy Sandford. He was sworn into office on 16 January 2019 and is the 119th High Sheriff of the city.

Alderman Sandford is a member of the Democratic Unionist Party and was elected to represent the Lisnasharragh area of east Belfast.

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 Alderman Tommy Sandford, 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, Alderman Tommy Sandford'. 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