THORNBURY businessman Thomas Frost has become the new High Sheriff of Gloucestershire - with a pledge to do his best to help people get back into work.

Mr Frost took on his new year-long role, which covers South Gloucestershire as well as Gloucestershire, during a civic ceremony in Gloucester Cathedral.

The office of high sheriff is at least 1,000 years old and is the oldest continuous secular office under the Crown.

Although the duties of the holder of the post have changed over the centuries, supporting the monarch and the judiciary remain important elements of the job.

High sheriffs also actively support and encourage crime prevention agencies, especially among young people, as well as the emergency services and the voluntary sector.

In Gloucestershire, the High Sheriffs' Fund aims to encourage groups, especially of young people, to be involved in challenging activities aimed at diverting and deterring them from anti-social behaviour and crime.

Mr Frost said: "I'm very keen on getting people back into work, especially people who have been in prison for a minor offence as it's very difficult for them to get back into mainstream employment.

"If youngsters do start to offend and they see no hope of getting back into society, they are on a slippery slope."

Mr Frost was brought up in Hertfordshire, qualified as a chartered accountant and went on to be financial controller at Whitbread International before becoming finance director and secretary at an electrical light company in Malmesbury.

He then joined quarry firm ARC's head office in Chipping Sodbury as commercial director responsible for its building products division and went on to acquire a distressed electrical manufacturer, which he turned around and expanded before selling the business to a private management team.

Since 2003, he has concentrated on his property business, supporting several biotech start-ups locally and running his family's small farm.

Mr Frost has a keen interest in conservation, gardening and bloodstock breeding. He also enjoys exercising his five dogs - he is currently president of the Lucas Terrier Club - playing golf and supporting Gloucestershire County Cricket Club.

He is also chairman of the Frost Charitable Trust, his family-based charity dedicated to eye diseases and the prevention of blindness.

The organisation is closely aligned with Bristol Eye Hospital and also offers fellowships to young trainee ophthalmologists.

Mr Frost and his wife, Carolyn, have lived for more than 40 years at their home on the edge of Thornbury, have three grown-up sons and three young grandchildren.