Mid Sussex resident Carole Hayward has retired from the area’s magistrates’ bench after more than 20 years service.
Before proceedings at Crawley Magistrates’ Court started on her last day, Carole’s colleagues packed into Courtroom One to wish her well in her retirement.
People aged 69 or more cannot be magistrates so Carole, who lives in Staplefield and is very involved with the South of England Agricultural Society at Ardingly, has had to step down even though she would have liked to carry on.
She said: “It’s something that I have enjoyed. I found when I was appointed and over the last 20 years, you do have a real sense of purpose.
“I find it really interesting. I have learnt a lot and I have met a huge variety of people. I have felt a real sense of achievement sometimes, and a sense of frustration quite often.”
She added: “We have training and guidelines, we listen carefully and try to reach the best decision. Also we try to ensure he or she does not go on to commit further crimes.”
Carole, who is now aged 70, was formerly a teacher at Northgate Primary School in Crawley from 1976 to 1987.
She was originally appointed a magistrate at Mid Sussex Magistrates’ Court in Haywards Heath in 1990.
However, when the court merged with Crawley and Horsham courts in the year 2000, Carole began sitting more on the Crawley bench.
Her career helping to maintain law and order within society has also seen her sit on the family court bench and her magistrate’s responsibilities have taken her back into schools where she and colleagues have tried to explain the works of the courts and the legal and penal systems.
Carole now plans to become more involved in the South of England Agricultural Society, the Ardingly based charityable countryside organisation that puts on the huge South of England Show every June, as well as three other annual shows.
The society also runs events that aim to teach children and young people about the countryside, rural life and the trades and crafts that continue to make it a vital part of life in the south of England.
As a former deputy Lord Lieutenant, she is also involved in the Lord Lieutenant’s project to help build links between charities and business so they can benefit each other.