A businesswoman and charity founder committed to improving the lives of young people in Suffolk has been sworn in as the county’s new High Sheriff.

Yvonne Gilchrist-Mason took her declaration of office at a ceremony at Ipswich Crown Court in front of local dignitaries.

During the ceremony on Thursday (March 21), the court’s resident judge, Martyn Levett, paid tribute to the outgoing High Sheriff, Mark Pendlington.

His Honour Judge Levett spoke of crisis at home and abroad, but then said: "Suffolk is different.

"Ever constant and stable is the Lieutenancy led by Lady Clare, Countess of Euston.

"Ever constant is the Shrievalty in Suffolk having been led by our magnificent High Sheriffs."

He went on to thank Mark Pendlington for improving diversity and inclusion in the appointment of magistrates, helping to "transform the magistracy to a more diverse 21st century court", before welcoming the newly ceclared High Sheriff of Suffolk.

Yvonne Gilchrist-Mason was awarded an OBE in Her Majesty The Queen’s 2020 New Year Honours List in recognition of her many years of dedication to inspiring and empowering young people in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The businesswoman said she wishes to best serve the county in the next year by continuing her work with young people, allowing them to thrive in future opportunities and improving access, particularly those in the Suffolk care system.

"I am honoured to have been chosen to undertake this important role in our county," Yvonne Gilchrist-Mason said.

"In looking at cohorts of young people we have not yet reached, the 800 or so young people in the Suffolk care system came into view.

"We will deliver a tangible, deliverable project which can make a real impact on the lives of these potentially vulnerable young people."

Following starting her first company in 1988, Yvonne Mason founded the Mason Trust in 2008 to help young people aged 12 to 25 achieve their dreams.

Since its foundation, the charity has sent more than 800 young people from the area to 48 countries across the world and has supported many others.

The charity’s formation led to the creation of the ICANBEA website, a platform for young people to explore future career options.

The businesswoman has more than 20 years of experience in the marine industry, and is chief executive officer of Future Marine Services and Safe STS Ltd, and also one of the founding members of UTCN (University Technical College Norfolk).

The proceedings included a welcome and declarations from the Under Sheriff Jonathan Mathers and incoming High Sheriff Yvonne Gilchrist-Mason OBE, both of which witnessed and signed by bench chair in the Magistrates Court, Jill Stuchfield.

Outgoing High Sheriff Mark Pendlington then presented the Badge of Honour to the incoming High Sheriff.

Prayers were said by the Reverend Canon Philip  Banks, chaplain to the new role, along with official welcomes from His Honour Judge Levett, and from the bar by Stephen Rose KC.