Wigan-born tycoon appointed the new High Sheriff of Lancashire

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A successful Wigan-born businessman has landed the ancient and exalted role of High Sheriff of Lancashire.

But while Martin Ainscough is a familiar name locally, the man who has just received this mediaeval honour is not the Martin Ainscough with whom many readers will be familiar.

For there happen to be two highly successful gents with the same moniker, living a few miles apart who are distant relations: one who made his fortunes in cranes and is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, the other who runs a pub and property company and holds the same post in Lancashire.

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It is the 56-year-old latter Ainscough, resident of Parbold Hall, who was declared his county’s high sheriff at a County Hall ceremony in Preston on Friday.

Martin AinscoughMartin Ainscough
Martin Ainscough
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The honour is bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen and is for a one-year fixed term, Mr Ainscough taking over from Booths supermarket chain chief Edwin Booth.

The role dates back more than a millennium and, at one time, high sheriffs were hugely powerful, coordinating the collection of taxes on behalf of the monarch and judging cases in courts.

Coincidentally Sir Thomas Crisp, the man who built Parbold Hall atop Parbold Hill in 1716, was himself Lancashire’s high sheriff.

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The new High Sheriff of Lancashire Martin Ainscough with his distant relation Martin AinscoughThe new High Sheriff of Lancashire Martin Ainscough with his distant relation Martin Ainscough
The new High Sheriff of Lancashire Martin Ainscough with his distant relation Martin Ainscough

Powers have waned over the centuries, but this is by no means just a ceremonial role today, Mr Ainscough having plenty of plans for the next 12 months.

He said: “Our remit is with law and order and we are tasked with supporting the police, prison service and probation service along with voluntary organisations within that world.

"Having spoken to other high sheriffs about successes in their roles, it has often been about joining people and organisations up rather than having them in silos which is often the case. It is also about supporting and rewarding those who have made a positive difference in law and order.”

Mr Ainscough says that during his tenure he wants to concentrate on minimising and preventing crimes against the vulnerable elderly.

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He said: “We have had two pensioners murdered this year in Lancashire and I have got two elderly parents who get phone calls from people trying to rip them off. Awareness needs to be raised and voluntary organisations involved, as well as the justice system, to protect our older residents.”

Mr Ainscough said another focus of his year would be addiction in prisons, especially the widespread abuse by inmates of “spice.”

Later in the year there will be another, bigger installation ceremony at Lancaster Castle during which Mr Ainscough’s shield will be mounted on the shire hall’s wall alongside those of his countless predecessors.

He said: “I am very proud and honoured to take this role and I want to make the most of it.”

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And so it will be a busy year for the businessman who expects to carry on his Deputy Lieutenant duties until he is 70 and has his enterprises to attend to. On the hospitality side these include pubs, restaurants and hotels including the Eagle and Child (with its adjoining farm shop) at Bispham Green and the Racquet Club in Liverpool.

His family have also been farmers for generations and there is much land around Parbold to work and develop.

Mr Ainscough was also chairman of the Lakeland Arts Trust for 10 years.