MEET David Hurst. Here, he is pictured near Southend’s cliffs lift in his official “uniform” bedecked with velvet.

The “splendid” historic dress signifies a huge honour for David, from Southend, who is the 844th High Sheriff of Essex - the first from the south of the county since 1986.

While the daily duties of a High Sheriff may mean very little to many people and simply appear as a historic tradition, David is aiming to breathe fresh air into the role and give it a “contemporary feel while preserving its traditions”.

David is joining an illustrious line of office bearers which traces back 982 years and is the first south Essex resident to be named the High Sheriff of Essex since Murray David Maitland, from Rochford, in 1986.

The formal duties of a High Sheriff include attendance at Royal visits and supporting emergency services, but charity work is at the forefront of Mr Hurst’s mind.

Born and bred in Southend, David is no stranger to community service, having devoted decades to volunteering and helming various charities.

His appointment as High Sheriff of Essex will tap into his experience within the business and voluntary sectors.

His familiarity with Southend, coupled with his drive to learn about the other parts of the county, will make him an leading Essex figure during his one-year tenure.

Mr Hurst said: “I am very honoured to become High Sheriff of Essex. It is a great opportunity to see things I haven’t come across before in many different communities.

“I am very keen to support the police, the judiciary and the emergency services, I will certainly be doing that.

“I also want to encourage people to take up volunteering, the sooner they get into it the better for their community.”

Among the numerous chairmanships and trusteeships he has held, David’s most notable affiliation is with Southend Round Table 106, where he resides as the president.

His seasoned fundraising engagements saw him ascend to the chairman of the Southend Community Fund managed by the independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation (ECF).

In his High Sheriff role, David will be raising funds for the High Sheriff’s Fund, a programme which promotes crime prevention and community safety, also managed by ECF.

His association with ECF aligns with his mission of strengthening local charities and voluntary groups in their efforts to boost the quality of life for the people of Essex.

To put these principles into action, David founded Rochford Rivercare in 2002, an initiative aimed at maintaining the cleanliness of the River Roach.

Mr Hurst stated: “I have a great deal of empathy for people running charities and understand the challenges they face. I hope that encouraging links and contacts between various organisations and signposting people towards the help they need will be part of my role as High Sheriff.”

He is now immersed in the “unusual” role, lasting only 12 months, but believes it’s long enough to make a difference, adding: “I am not landed gentry, as many have been, but I am determined to do my best. I am aiming to attend around 300 events and will enjoy the opportunity of getting out and about in the county.”

David is already planning a 12-mile sponsored walk to boost awareness of the High Sheriff’s Fund and commemorate the RNLI’s bicentenary.

In his official duties, his wife, Jane, will be by his side, as she has been through their 40-year marriage.

He was elated at putting on the traditional High Sheriff’s velvet outfit, adding: “It really is a privilege to wear such a splendid outfit, tailor-made by a master in the field.”