CELEBRITY gardener Alan Titchmarsh has just been selected as one for the Isle of Wight, Penelope Keith was one for Surrey in 2000 and now Wirral resident Judith Greensmith has been installed as this year's High Sheriff of Merseyside, during a ceremony which took place at her former school, Birkenhead High School for Girls.

Judith, chairwoman of the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust is to also take on the honorary yearly role appointed by the Queen in a special meeting of the Privy Council.

She said: "I wanted to have the installation in Wirral as it is my patch and as a former pupil of Birkenhead High School for Girls, I thought it would be nice to celebrate it there."

The role of the High Sheriff is a centuries old title, steeped in tradition and the formal role is the keeper of the Queen's Peace in the county and the responsibility of Her Majesty's Judges and other public duties. The Queen, in a public ceremony pricks' the Lites' (a list of names of the chosen people put forward) with a bodkin, a practice which dates back to Queen Elizabeth 1.

Other public duties include attending Royal visits to the county they represent and the maintenance and loyalty of subjects of the Crown.

The role has also expanded with the times and one area that Judith is looking forward to is visiting people from the voluntary sector.

"So many people in small organisations do such fantastic work and I hope I can play a part in working with them by tackling issues and bringing them together.

You can make the role your own and some High Sheriffs decide on a theme they wish to pursue for the year, I haven't quite honed in on that yet, but there's plenty of time to and I shall enjoy seeing how my role develops."

Judith is no stranger to charitable work and is also involved with the Liverpool Cathedral and Anglican cathedral, she sits on the board of governers for Birkenhead School for Girls and the council of Liverpool University as a lay member and one of the reasons why she was picked for the position was as a local honour recognition for her contribution to the area.

The role is a semi-voluntary one and with that comes a costume that the sheriffs wear at events, men can choose to wear military dress, or court dress and carry a sword, both sexes wear lace cuffs and a ruffled blouse, or shirt.

Judith wears a specially made royal blue suit with antique buttons and she has chosen a blue Ostrich feather to wear in her hat, instead of the traditional white.

She was also presented with a ceremonial broach from the Duchy of Lancaster, which she is allowed to keep for life and will be returned to the Duchy after death.

One of her initial invites has been from Steve Maddox, chief executive of Wirral Council, who has asked her to spend a full day in Wirral, as yet she does not know what she will be doing, but imagines that part of that day will be visiting voluntary organisations.