Soham Grammarians - Paul Holmes

from the Cambridge Evening News, February 16 2005:
source Neil Holmes 52, whose brother Paul was at SGS 1946-51

article by Alex Mott: Magistrate Paul Holmes will soon pass his last sentence at Cambridge Magistrates' Court - but not before receiving commendation from the Queen. The 69 year old, who has given 27 years' service to the Bench, will have his last sitting on February 28.

But yesterday he attended a reception at St James's Palace, in the presence of the Queen and Prince Philip, along with Cambridge magistrates David Gillett and Ian Kerr. Mr Holmes was selected to be personally presented to the Queen.

The event was held to recognise the public service given by members of the Magistrates' Courts Committees (MCCs) to the Administration of Justice. At the end of March all MCCs, including Cambridgeshire, which has nine magistrates, are to be disbanded and replaced by a new organisation, known in Cambridgeshire as the Cambridgeshire Courts Board.

After meeting the Queen, Mr Holmes said: "It was a brilliant night. We shook hands with the Queen and had a conversation. When she realised we'd come from Cambridge we said we'd seen quite a lot of her family and she said that was because they had been educated there and not because they had come in front of the Bench! It was just a once-in-a-lifetime thing and for me , coming to the end of my career, it was a great send-off."

He added: "Being a magistrate has involved a lot of hard work and a large amount of training to keep up to date with the changes in the law, with an average sitting of one day a week. My last sitting is at the end of February as the compulsory retiring age for magistrates is 70. It has certainly become a part of my life which I will miss."

Mr Gillett said: "Mr Kerr and I are delighted that Paul has had a right royal send-off after a long and outstanding career as a Cambridge magistrate."

The new Courts Board will have only two magistrate members, but will also include lay members of the community and people with knowledge of the courts.

An illustrious career
1978 - Paul Holmes begins sitting in the magistrates' court, in the Guildhall, Cambridge
1980 - New magistrates' court opened on Lion Yard, Cambridge, officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh, who Mr Holmes met
1980s - Trained as Youth Panel member to be able to deal with 10 to 17 year olds
1990 - Became involved in Liquor Licensing Committee, of which he has been chairman for 12 years, licensing new premises that sell alcohol and issuing licenses to new licencees
1995 - Elected deputy chairman of the Bench
1999 - Elected chairman of the Bench for two years and appointed on to the Cambridge Magistrates' Courts Committee.
Part of the sub-committee which designed the courthouse in the Grand Arcade in Cambridge into which the court will move in 2008.