Project Description

Ruth Sarah Farwell

In position 2018 – 2019

Ruth is a mathematician by background with a BSc(Hons) and a PhD, both from the University of Kent. Her career spanning over forty years was spent in different universities, first as a lecturer in mathematics, then gradually moving into more managerial roles.
After two research fellowships, at Kent and Imperial College London, she began lecturing in maths at St Mary’s University, Twickenham in 1982. After heading up the maths department there she moved in 1990 to the University of Brighton where she stayed for eight years, moving in 1998 to London South Bank University where she was Pro Vice-Chancellor. She left there in January 2006 to lead what was to become Buckinghamshire New University as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, retiring in January 2015. It was this appointment that brought her and her husband Martin Daniels to Buckinghamshire, moving to a rural location outside High Wycombe where they still live.
Throughout her career and into retirement, Ruth has been active in the university sector at national level, as well as holding posts in public life both locally and more widely. She currently chairs the South Bank Colleges board, is a member of the board of London South Bank University and also deputy chair of Pearson College London. She also runs her own consultancy and undertakes voluntary work.
Ruth was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2015 for services to higher education. She has an honorary doctorate from the University of Kent and an emeritus professorship from Buckinghamshire New University. She was made a Deputy Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire in 2015.

My time as High Sheriff
What an honour and a privilege it was to serve as Buckinghamshire’s High Sheriff. I had such a wonderful year: it was enjoyable and informative – and not too exhausting.
What I found interesting and new were those aspects most connected to the role of High Sheriff as standing for law and order: visiting police, prisons, judiciary and getting behind the scenes. I was able to see the Police in action, have ride-alongs, sit in court, find out about prison life – things I had never experienced before. It was very much about meeting people who were working hard, many against the odds as resources were getting stretched.
And it wasn’t all deadly serious. One light hearted interlude was taking part in the Thames Valley Police public order training at Upper Heyford, role playing a gang of football supporters at an away match. It was frightening how we quickly we got carried along by the crowd but there was a serious side to it for me. It exemplified what police officers do for the public on a daily basis.
It is not surprising given my background that I decided to use my year as High Sheriff to take the opportunity to highlight the role of education and skills in beating crime. This is multi-faceted but one aspect I promoted was raising educational attainment and employment prospects as a means of preventing becoming involved in crime or reoffending. I worked with some marvellous partners on events focussing on these, the Open University and Milton Keynes College. After my year ended I wanted to put to use all I had learnt and so was pleased to become a trustee of BACO (the Bucks Association for the Care of Offenders) and also their prison support officer for HMP Grendon.
And now finally the highlight of my year – being able to say thank you to people who are doing a great job. There were formal occasions to do this: Police commendation awards and High Sheriff awards – court awards and ones to prison staff. However during the course of a visit just being able to say thank you to people in the services or in charities should not be underestimated. It is a really powerful aspect of the High Sheriff’s role, and one I found very rewarding.