Three generations of the Attrill family have owned Dean Farm, Whitwell, and now two of those generations have been high sheriffs of the Isle of Wight.

James Attrill has just started his high sheriff year, following on from his father, John, who held the post some years ago.

James, who combines his farming role with a senior role as partner at BCM rural property specialists in Merstone, has two clear objectives during his year in office.

One is to highlight mental health, especially in children and young people, and the other is to support the emergency services at this difficult time.

A former Niton Primary and Ryde School pupil, James went to university at the University of London's Wye College in Kent before working in New Zealand on sheep and cattle stations.

He returned to the UK and spent a number of years working as a land agent in Wiltshire before returning to the Isle of Wight in 1999.

He is married with two grown-up children.

He believes the current focus on mental health and the issues around wellbeing highlighted by the pandemic are worthy of attention.

James said: " Statistics show children and young people have taken a big hit in their mental health during the pandemic.

Isle of Wight County Press: James Attrill in his ceremonial uniform.James Attrill in his ceremonial uniform.

"I have done some training to try and understand the issues better and am planning on working with the IW Youth Trust to make people more aware of it.

"We need to train people up and that will be one of my projects."

James is also talking to the Chamber of Commerce to seek their support on the issue and will be using his year to heighten awareness of the issue, which, he says, affects all sectrors and ages.

"Men are particularly rubbish about talking about it.

"I would readily come into work and moan about having a bad back or a cold, but would I come in and say to colleagues 'I think I am clinically depressed'? Probably not."

The other focal point of his year is showing support for law and order.

James feels that all workers have had a tough time but the police and the courts have been a little bypassed by the rightful emphasis on the NHS.

"The police are finding it hard and the courts have a massive backlog, so I will be doing what I can to support them."

Asked what he was looking forward to most about his year, James said it was meeting people.

"I already get a kick out of meeting new people so finding out what makes them tick will be fascinating. There are a lot of untold stories on the Island."

Isle of Wight County Press: James Attrill.James Attrill.

He has already started going to things and at an event with the New Carnival Company on Thursday he discovered the great work they do.

He said: "We are encouraged, as high sheriffs, to make connections with other counties, and as they already connect with carnival groups in London and Bristol among others, I will speak to high sheriffs there to heighten their profile."

And when he is not working, farming or taking on this important role, James is to be found doing a spot of cycling, walking his dog or, if time allows, indulging in a little fly fishing.