High Sheriff

Geoff Underwood

I am honoured to assume the role of High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight for 2019/2020, following my Declaration Ceremony at the CECAMM building on April 8th2019. I wanted to hold my Declaration at the CECAMM building because it is a new seat of learning where students can now obtain a degree level engineering qualification without leaving the Island. I would like to thank my predecessor, Gioia Minghella-Giddens, who has completed a very successful year and I plan to continue the good work of Gioia and many previous high sheriffs, by visiting our schools and colleges, and to spread the word, and hopefully help to raise aspirations.

If young people make the right choices, then the opportunities are out there. The High Sheriff has an important role to play in the community.  There is of course a traditional focus on organisations that help to reduce or prevent crime, and I look forward to spending time with our Judiciary, Police and the Prison service. The wider role of the High Sheriff is to Listen, to thank and to encourage people who are doing all sorts of great things to improve the lives of others around them, in whatever way.

I plan to focus on supporting events and organisations where I can have some kind of positive impact I have lived on the Island all my life and the be the High Sheriff of such a beautiful and diverse Isle is an absolute privilege and an honour that I will be eternally grateful for. I am also lucky to have visited and worked in many countries around the world, places often described as paradise. Every time I visit such places I find myself continually comparing them to the Island, and I always come away thinking that the Isle of Wight is still one of the best places on the Planet. And we should celebrate that fact.

My Objectives

I believe that healthy businesses create the environment for a healthy economy, which in turn should lead us to greater social wellbeing. I therefore intend to devote time to supporting businesses where I can during my year as High Sheriff. In particular, start-ups, and small growing businesses, where my network of connections and contact can benefit them and help them grow. I also feel strongly that the more established businesses on the Isle of Wight do not give anywhere near enough to support our charitable sector. So, during my year, I plan to encourage more business giving on the Island.  In particular, I plan to encourage giving to The High Sheriffs Trust, and to The WightAID Foundation. Organisations that were set up specifically to support smaller charities and good causes on the Island.

A Bit About Me

My parents came to the Island in the early 50s where my father worked as an engineer for Saunders Roe, an early pioneer of composite materials and famous for developing the Black Arrow rocket programme. I was born and raised here on the Island and studied at the Isle of Wight College. Where I decided to specialise in engineering, like my father. I continued this pursuit of engineering through to university where I got my degree from just over the water from the University of Portsmouth. Then in 1990 I started working for GEC Marconi, working on Inflight Entertainment Systems.


This sparked a passion for providing quality Inflight Entertainment Systems which led me to starting up my own company in 1996, which offered design and development of passenger devices for Inflight Entertainment Systems, called IFPL.  We began manufacture of headset jack modules in 1999 with our first units destined for Virgin Atlantic. Since then, we have directly or indirectly supplied every major airline in the World. In 2008 IFPL was awarded The Queen’s Award for Enterprise, and for a second time in 2014. This is an achievement that has been made possible by the trust placed upon us by our amazing customers and through the hard work of the team at IFPL.

As my company IFPL has grown, the amount of money we were able to give to charities has grown too. However, with that, the administration required to make all those donations went through the roof. We became inundated with requests from small local charities, groups and good causes. Most of them were not looking for a lot of money, but we continuously received numerous letters asking for support. So I set up the WightAID Foundation. The Foundation will make it easier for companies to support a whole range of local charities and community groups by making one donation and the Foundation will distribute the funds efficiently and effectively to those that need our support.


E: iwhighsheriff@gmail.com

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