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Brookfield Mock Trial Success!

Brookfield students heard some life lessons from the outgoing High Sheriff of Derbyshire when they attended the local heat of the Young Citizens’ Magistrates Mock Trial competition at the beginning of March.

As she entered the last month of her tenure, High Sheriff Theresa Peltier spoke of the hard work she had enjoyed during the year, with a focus on learning more and supporting those who represent the diversity of life in our county. This includes working with the deaf and hearing impaired, Ms Peltier revealing that she is learning British Sign Language. She spoke, too, of the need to recognise the vulnerability of women in the prison system, as well as the excellent work of charities such as the Derby-based Jericho project for men recovering from drink and drug dependency.

While some of the audience of 12-14 year-olds from schools in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire expressed the view that they felt they would be ready to fledge the nest at 16 as Theresa had, she offered the opinion that they might find it more difficult than they imagine. Having been adopted into a less-supportive family, Ms Peltier was keen to leave home at 16 but described a path that she then trod which might have taken her into dangerous, even criminal, territory. As it was, with the advice and support of good friend, she went on to spend 27 years in the police service, including high profile roles as Head of Equality at Derbyshire Police.

Ms Peltier is Derbyshire’s first black High Sheriff and is proud to be one of many women to have taken up the role. Responding to a question from one of the students, she said she felt it would be impossible to sustain the role of High Sheriff with the commitment she had brought to the role; she is, however, to continue to serve the community by taking up a role in the Lord Lieutenant’s office in the summer.

Brookfield’s students and staff were bowled over by Ms Peltier’s enthusiasm, compassion and story. Their day was made complete by learning that they had been victorious in the Mock Trial local heat, with a place at the Regional Heat later in the spring being confirmed by local competition co-ordinator, John Rivers.

Organising teacher and team-leader, English teacher Miss Kitt, said: "Hearing from the High Sheriff was a brilliant experience for both student and adult alike, an inspiring presence with her dedication to helping those in need.” On the competition, she added: “Our Brookfield students showed incredible resilience and dedication which led them to a well-deserved win.”

The team, a good mix of Year 9s, some of whom had participated last year, and Year 8s – all new to the competition in 2024 – now look forward to learning a new case for the next round. Taking on roles such as Court Artist, defendant, Lawyers, Legal Adviser, mentors, Usher and witnesses, the team of twenty were worthy but modest winners. Miss Kitt described them as “A fantastic group of students who have made me, and Mr Davey, immensely proud."