For Sheriff Tom Hughes, the day he was appointed to his distinguished role lives long in the memory.
The immense pride he felt, the excitement of a new challenge in the City of Discovery.
All that was left was to share the big announcement with his family.
“At the time, there weren’t a lot of sheriffs who were prepared to come here because of the travel from Glasgow or Edinburgh,” Sheriff Hughes said.
“I vividly remember the day I was appointed and I told my wife Janice. Then I told her it was going to be at Dundee Sheriff Court.
“She burst out crying – and they weren’t tears of joy!
“Because of personal circumstances, the whole family moved up to Dundee from Glasgow and it was the very best thing that ever happened to us.”
After almost 20 years on the bench at Dundee, Sheriff Hughes will leave the city for Glasgow Sheriff Court next month.
Although his departure is tinged with sadness, the sheriff heaped praise on the staff of the court he has served as well as the Faculty of Procurators and Solicitors, Sheriff Principal Marysia Lewis and experts at Ninewells Hospital and the city’s universities.
And Sheriff Hughes believes the city itself has a bright future ahead.
He said: “Over the years, I have greatly appreciated the fantastic support both I and the other sheriffs have received from the clerks, bar officers, social workers, solicitors and cleaning staff who all provide fantastic work in Dundee Sheriff Court.
“Dundee is so well served by our social workers and we have the benefit of (court liaison officer) Helena Garrigan who does an excellent job and goes well above the call of duty to answer that.
“It’s a testament to the excellent work done that Dundee Sheriff Court is seen as one of the most efficient courts in Scotland.
“Many people throughout Scotland have indicated to me how impressed they are at the strides made in Dundee with the development that’s going on. I leave happy in the knowledge that the future looks good for Dundee.”
Sheriff Hughes was formerly a partner at Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire firm McAuley McCarthy & Co from 1980 until 2003, primarily practicing in civil litigation.
In 2004, he was appointed resident sheriff at Dundee where he received “wonderful” support and from then-sheriffs Richard Davidson, Elizabeth Munro, Alistair Duff and Grant McCulloch.
The role of a sheriff is a unique one. Only a select group of individuals understand the burden of making potentially life-altering decisions on a daily basis.
“These decisions affect everyone,” Sheriff Hughes added.
“It can be very difficult as a sheriff to make decisions which you might not want to make but you have to be true to your oath of office in administering justice fairly.
“That can mean your decisions will have a catastrophic effect but you have to live with your conscience and know that you are making the right decision. Safe in the knowledge that if the sheriff is wrong – and I have been wrong many times – then it will be corrected by the appeal court.”
The scourge of drug addiction has featured heavily in many of the cases brought before the sheriff.
Last year, the no-nonsense lawman, who also serves as a High Court judge, lambasted the “evil” brought upon by county lines drug dealers.
He added: “As a sheriff, I have the privileged position of being able to monitor what is happening in the sheriffdom and it’s sad to see the difficulties that many families encounter by the problems caused by drug addiction.
“That gives an indication as to why we, as sheriffs, take a very serious view of people who deal in drugs. Over the years, I have seen many families ruined as a result of this horrendous problem.
“I have been able to witness the introduction of many programmes including drug treatment and the use of community payback orders which are all geared up for trying to assist people with difficulties caused by factors outwith their own control.”
History has now repeated itself for the sheriff as he prepares to bid farewell to the city he adores.
He concluded: “My wife was in tears at the prospect of coming to Dundee and now we find ourselves in tears at the prospect of leaving.”