They are Suresh Ariaratnam, from Bath, Jennifer Duke, who lives on Exmoor, and Sheila Wheeler, who lives in a village on the Quantock Hills.

They bring to 41 the number of DLs in Somerset, spread over a wide geographic area.

Today Suresh 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 commented: “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 said: “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 today: “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.”

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 honoured to serve the county of Somerset as High Sheriff. Her focus during the year was on food poverty, and the promotion of opportunities in education and training for children and young adults.

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. In her spare time she loves to read, walk locally on the Quantocks and on Exmoor and travel (often for more walking). Married to Martin, they have four adult children.

The three new deputy lord lieutenants for Somerset

About this article

April 2, 2024

Lorraine Hemmings

Press Release