Kent's new High Sheriff, Georgie Warner
PUBLISHED: 21:56 21 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:35 20 February 2013
Georgie Warner on family, a life-changing skiiing accident, her love for Brenchley and why her new role as High Sheriff makes her<br/><br/>feel completely 'buzzed'
Kents new High Sheriff, Georgie Warner
Georgie Warner on family, a life-changing skiiing accident, her love for Brenchley and why her new role as High Sheriff makes her feel completely buzzed
When Georgie Warner declared I truly, truly promise to behave myself with a deliciously mischievous emphasis on those trulys at her installation ceremony as High Sheriff of Kent, the assembled gathering knew they were in for a bit of a treat with this years incumbent in the ancient role.
Only our sixth female High Sheriff since 1029 (the first was in 1981, so its a relatively recent breakthrough for girl power), Georgie certainly cut a very different figure from outgoing High Sheriff Peregrine Massey at the ceremony at All Saints in Brenchley.
A slight 5ft 4in to his 6ft 6in, Peregrine had to lower the microphone rather a long way down for his successor to reach when it was her turn to speak in church. As Georgie later told me: There was nothing I wanted to borrow from Peregrine. His tights would have come over my head!
Outfits aside (hers is a fetching velvet suit made by Judy Mott in the Pantiles, topped by an equally striking hat created by Nanette James from Capel; the doeskin gloves and silk handbag belonged to her grandmother), Georgie is keen to develop some of the themes begun by other High Sheriffs.
Its a good idea to do the same things as previous High Sheriffs, then you can get all that hard work consolidated and move forward. If youre just stabbing at different things you wont get anything done.
She has her own ideas, of course: I am keen to work with young offenders and on ways to keep them out of trouble. Ive had a meeting with the Heads of Probation and also Youth Offending, and there are lots of different ways I can become involved.
Of an early meeting with Kent Polices Chief Superintendent Alasdair Hope, she says: You have to almost pinch yourself that youre being shown round and everyone stops what theyre doing just so that you can learn. Its an opportunity that stands there waiting for you to grab it and all you feel is so buzzed by the whole thing! I feel immensely honoured and that its a real gift I mustnt waste.
Georgie has more reason that most to relish each and every day, as nine years ago she had a life-changing accident while on a skiing holiday with two of her grown-up children.
Edward and Millie said I was too well organised for Christmas and why dont we go skiing? I was so flattered theyd asked me I said I would pay for it but they could organise it.
Hit by a jumping snowboarder on the slopes, however, she broke her hip, damaged the whole of her right side, missed her own super-organised festivities at home and had to stay in hospital for a very long time.
A combination of pilates, working with chiropractors and osteopaths and, one suspects, her own steel and resolve has seen Georgie not only ski but also ride again, despite being warned by her consultants that she would never do either.
I am quite a nervous rider now, especially about falling off, she admits. But I have this jacket thats a back protector and it attaches to the front of my saddle. If I was to go through the air, the ripcord would go and it would explode like a Sumo.
I have skied again, but I dont enjoy it to in the way I used to and that noise snowboarders make at head height She shudders.
Family is all-important and her children Edward, 31, Millie, 29 and Jamie, 26 all went to Bristol University, all now live in London but come home frequently.
You cant blame them, when their Brenchley family home (Victorian with many Regency features) is so delightful not surprising, when its also something of a showcase for Georgies own antiques business.
I was inspired by my father, she explains. He was nearly 50 when I was born and in his spare time he was a private collector of furniture, silver and early English longcase clocks and he used to take me about. When I showed an interest he was only too delighted and my interest just grew.
Ive been buying bits of furniture since I was 18. By that time he was getting on a bit, so it was lovely for him. He lived until he was 93 and Id come in and tell him what Id seen and where Id seen it and he was delighted. His eyes would light up.
Georgie started out on her own after she and husband Charlie moved to Brenchley when she was pregnant with their third child. But along with being chairman of the Gardening for the Disabled Trust, which shes done for 15 years, everything else will take a back seat to her new role for her year.
Every day is different and I do feel that I am able to give the time to it because Ive cleared my desk, so to speak, and Im not holding down a London job, so I feel flexible, up for anything and really excited about it!
Husband Charlie, who was born and brought up in Kent and in 1977 became the fifth generation of his family to join Warners Solicitors in nearby Tonbridge, is being simply amazing, says his wife.
Working locally he can pop into the office, do a few hours and pop back again to accompany me on events. We both feel its a gift thats come out of the blue really because well meet so many new people.
The couple, who met when Charlie was up at Cambridge (Georgies family home was seven miles away, the old rectory in Horlton, where her brother now lives), are both keen on sport and as well as always having owned dogs and horses, enjoy playing tennis and watching West Ham United.
And they adore Brenchley. Georgies perfect start to her day is an early morning local ride and she tells me, with undisguised enthusiasm: I really, really love the village, its got a lovely feel and everyone is so welcoming. I get endorphins meeting people here!
I dance around on the outside doing things here and there, but theres a real backbone of mainstay people here who give, give, give.
She is being typically modest, of course, and has already given so much of her time and hospitality to her local community and to the county since that April installation ceremony.
Its bizarre at my age dressing up and being the centre of attention as a parent of grown-up children you become so used to stepping back, and suddenly youre front line!
You wear it well, Georgie: your friends and fans wish you a wonderful year in office.
MY FAVOURITE KENT
Shops: For clothes shopping, I can almost always find what Im looking for in Tunbridge Wells, whether its Hoopers, Fenwick or one of those lovely shops in the High Street. I am very fond of Tenterden and quite often go there to shop. My route takes me through Goudhurst where I always stop off at Village Life as it sells such fun, easy to wear separates that are brilliant for layering. Then stopping at Taywell Farmshop is a must to try any new Kentish produce.
Going out: We love The Hop Bine, a traditional small country pub with a friendly landlord, Mike, and a cheery atmosphere. Its an excellent stop-off during a dog walk or even a horse ride! We often use The Great House at Gills Green, Hawkhurst to
meet with friends for supper who live in the Rye area, as its about halfway for both of us. The Green Cross Inn at Goudhurst does good seafood, but we much prefer a table in the bar where they is a good pub atmosphere, rather than the restaurant, which is a bit tucked away.
View: I love the view from Brenchley cricket pitch over to Goudhurst, and if you go up to Brenchley Manor and look back, thats always wonderful.
Ride: I mainly ride on my own around Brenchley but with friends when I go to Bedgebury Forest and around Scotney. I have friends who farm for the National Trust at Little Scotney and it is beautiful