AS Marcia Reid Fotheringham was returning from a trip to London she saw a newspaper billboard proclaiming a racist incident in Carlisle.

Startled, she asked husband Jim if he knew what that was all about and was told "It's about you!"

That was more than 20 years ago and probably the first time the wider public heard Marcia's name.

It certainly was not the last, however, as this New York-raised city girl, brought to rural Cumbria by love, would eventually become known for her 'firsts.'

She was Cumbria's first black magistrate, first black chairman of the Bench and first black county representative of the Bench.

She also became the county's first black High Sheriff and only the third in the history of England and Wales.

She prefers, now, to be described as the first who is black rather than making colour part of her title.

Go back more than 27 years ago when Marcia was engaged to mountaineer and dentist Jim Fotheringham.

A letter to the newspaper had turned into a news article. When she heard that a Morris dancing group was to dance to an old slave tune in blackface, she wrote to the paper.

"I was told that the blackface was a reminder of the coal mining days and I suggested that either the blackface or the slave tune should go."

At nearly 70, Marcia is a human dynamo and trying to tell her story in this limited space is not even remotely possible.

A university-educated psychologist, she has risen through the ranks in Cumbria.

She was thrilled to be invited to be the High Sheriff for 2019-2020 and used the honour to celebrate Cumbria in all its aspects and is honoured that her voice has been heard in so many ways.

When that was over, though, there was no thought of relaxing.

She is on nine councils, boards and groups. She is patron of the Cumbria social justice and equality group AWAZ.

She has recently stepped down as patron of the British Energy Coast Business Cluster.

She is on the board of trustees at Tullie House Museum, the Cumbria Victims Charity Trust Board, the Cumbria Community Foundation Board, the Multicultural Cumbria Board, the Cumbria Opera Group and the University of Lancaster Council.

She is a Deputy Lieutenant (of Cumbria) and an Honorary Fellow (University of Cumbria).