CUMBRIA'S new High Sheriff Marcia Reid Fotheringham made her first official engagement in the South Lakes with a visit to mental health charity Growing Well, praising the Low Sizergh-based organic fruit and veg farm for its “wonderful work”.

Mrs Reid Fotheringham has been a magistrate for 18 years and has been chairwoman of the North and West Cumbria Magistrates Bench for two years.

She said that with her professional background, having worked as a psychologist in the NHS as well as a family therapist, she was delighted to visit a charity working in the field of mental health so early in her High Sheriff year.

At Growing Well, which has been working with people living with and recovering from poor mental health for more than 14 years, the High Sheriff on Monday met staff, volunteers and board members, learning how the charity provides opportunities for more than 100 people a year to volunteer in its organic growing and catering business, and to acquire vocational skills and qualifications.

Arriving at Low Sizergh Farm in her official High Sheriff regalia plus red wellington boots, Mrs Reid Fotheringham joined staff and volunteers for lunch cooked on site using Growing Well produce, before changing into more casual wear to tour the six-acre farm site and hearing from volunteers how working in the supportive environment of Growing Well helps their recovery.

Following her three-hour visit Mrs Reid Fotheringham said she was impressed by the passion of the charity’s staff and the work she had seen.

“It’s clear Growing Well is a wonderful, wonderful programme that does much more than its name states,” she said.

“I think in an amazing way it makes sense that it’s here in Cumbria since so much of Growing Well’s work seems to be about getting in touch with the soil.

“The soil helps the volunteers here get in touch with their heart and their souls and they seem to recover and do better in whatever their task is around life. I commend everyone who’s here.”

Growing Well general manager Mary Houston said: “Marcia was an inspirational character from the moment she stepped on site here.

“It was pleasure to see her interact with board, staff and volunteers with genuine heartfelt interest. We feel Growing Well has gained a great supporter, look forward to seeing her again and wish her well for the rest of her year as High Sheriff.”

To find out more about Growing Well and how to support its work visit