Three new deputy lieutenants appointed for Somerset

THREE new deputy lieutenants have been appointed for Somerset.

The role supports the lord lieutenant, the King’s representative in the county, in their duties.

Suresh Ariaratnam, from Bath, Jennifer Duke, who lives on Exmoor, and Sheila Wheeler, who lives in a village on the Quantock Hills, have been made deputies.

They bring the number of deputy lieutenants in the county to 41.

Suresh, who worked in the publishing industry for more than two decades, said: “Serving the people of Somerset, and supporting the diverse communities within our county as part of the Lieutenancy is both an honour and a privilege.

“I look forward to being of assistance wherever it may be needed.”

Jennifer, MD of an IT consultancy, said: “Having served as High Sheriff of Somerset in 2022, I am delighted and honoured to be offered the opportunity to continue some of that work as one of our county’s Deputy Lieutenants.”

And Sheila, a former finance director of the London Symphony Orchestra, added: “I am delighted, honoured and humbled to be asked to support the Lord-Lieutenant in his role across Somerset, my adopted county.”

Welcoming their appointments, which have been sanctioned by His Majesty The King, Somerset’s Lord-Lieutenant, Mohammed Saddiq, said: “Jennifer, Suresh and Sheila bring wide and diverse experiences to the Lieutenancy and I am sure will do much to help the Lieutenancy celebrate all that is good in our county.”

Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Mohammed Saddiq. Picture: Somerset Council

Lord Lieutenant of Somerset, Mohammed Saddiq. Picture: Somerset Council

More on the new deputy lieutenants in Somerset

Suresh Ariaratnam DL
Suresh was born in Cornwall and grew up in Bath. He worked in the book industry for more than 23 years, primarily as a literary agent, focussing on representing authors from minority ethnicities.

He remains involved in helping to ensure the equitable treatment of marginalised people in the creative economy and more generally, through advocacy.

A current body of work involves raising awareness of how intellectual property licensing malpractice can impact disproportionately on life outcomes for people from disadvantaged communities.

As a non-executive director for NHS Somerset and NHS Dorset HealthCare, he is especially interested in the broader socio-economic determinants of health and their relationship to inequalities.

Suresh also serves as a trustee of Literature Works, the Theatre Royal Bath, and the Trussell Trust, as well as being a member of the British Library Advisory Council.

In 2022, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Jennifer Duke DL
Having been brought up in the north of Scotland, Jennifer has lived on Exmoor for the past 26 years.

She is managing director of an IT consultancy, which delivers solutions and services to financial markets and industry, using advanced algorithm-based technology.

With an MA in English, Jennifer worked in Singapore for the British Council and then joined Longman as a Book Editor in Melbourne, Australia.

On returning to the UK she became a commissioning editor for Heinemann and for several years juggled a busy career with the demands of a growing family.

Since moving to Exmoor, Jennifer has held the position of Church Warden in Luxborough and has, in this capacity, been responsible for driving initiatives focussed on engaging with and supporting the community.

She has also been a parish councillor for many years, with a special interest in planning applications.

Jennifer has been an active committee member and fundraiser for many charities. She is an ambassador for The Nelson Trust, which supports vulnerable people who have multiple and complex needs, including addiction, trauma, and offending.

During 2022-2023, Jennifer was High Sheriff of Somerset. Her focus during the year was on food poverty, and the promotion of opportunities in education and training for children and young adults.

READ MORE: Pair honoured for services to the Somerset community

Sheila Wheeler DL
Sheila was born and grew up in Ireland. Following a degree in English and Theology, she moved to China to teach in a university.

Later she retrained as an accountant in London and spent much of her career in the public sector. She spent time as a Finance Director of the London Symphony Orchestra and has worked in local government both as a finance director and chief executive across a number of local authorities, including the then-Somerset County Council.

More recently, she has worked in debt advice at the Money Advice Service and as an advisor and consultant to a range of not-for-profit organisations.

She is a lay trustee of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, a trustee of British Gas Energy Trust (until June this year) and a governor of Taunton School.

Sheila moved to Somerset in 2010, having lived in Surrey and London. She now lives in a village on the Quantock Hills and in her spare time loves to read, walk locally on the Quantocks and on Exmoor and travel.
Married to Martin, they have four adult children.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.