A RIBBLE Valley flower specialist has been appointed as the new High Sheriff of Lancashire.

Catherine Penny, of Dutton Hall near Ribchester, has been personally appointed to the largely ceremonial role by The Queen.

She has had a career in horticulture, setting up her own plant nursery which specialised in old fashioned roses, including Gallica officinalis, The Red Rose of Lancaster.

Since selling her nursery in 2002, Catherine and her husband Andrew have advised on plants and gardening from their home which has a notable collections of trees and shrubs.

She takes over the post from fellow Ribble Valley resident Ralph Assheton, of Downham Hall.

Mrs Penny said: “I am honoured to have been asked to hold the ancient Office of High Sheriff of Lancashire for the forthcoming year.

“Since the reign of Henry II, judges have been sent round the country and been welcomed and entertained by the High Sheriff.

“I look forward to continuing this tradition and carrying out other official functions.”

Mrs Penny is due to be sworn in at a special ceremony on Wednesday April 8.

She has held a number of roles in the voluntary sector.