I started this week with a tour and reception for the Make Time Friendship Group, a club to help people who feel isolated and lack confidence socialising get out and about. And just think of those nice words – who of us is honestly too busy to make time for others? We all endlessly rush around and often overlook the most important things in life – our family and friends. So, can I thank those people, from wherever they come, who just knock on the Parlour door (or wander in!) to look at the most beautiful office in the whole of Worcester. They’re mainly tourists so I always direct them to our Museums and shops and ask them to spend their money.
I witnessed a truly amazing act of Christian charity in Gheluvelt Park when about 100 young people from a week-long Christian camp near Worcester, participating in the Take Pride In Worcester campaign, cleaned up and painted the railings, the main gate and equipment in the play area. For so many young people who do not even live near Worcester to serve our City in this way is an impressively vivid way for the true meaning of Christianity to show itself. It is like the work of His Holiness, Pope Francis, in making his church so much more relevant by returning to fundamentals in a secular and selfish world.
Of course, this week has seen Worcester host the Three Choirs Festival, the world’s oldest music festival. It was good to mix with colleagues from Hereford and Gloucester at the receptions and the Thursday concert of Elgar and Vaughan Williams could only ever be a pure delight and, significantly in the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this concert was supported by the German Embassy. I also attended the Launch of the 2015 programme, to be held in Hereford, which will be the 300th Anniversary of the Festival. However, without wishing to be churlish about it, that is only based on some very dubious figures about when the first Festival actually took place, and on excluding war and other years when it did not take place. Let’s just say, the arithmetic is somewhat unreliable! And, anyway, Worcester did host the 200th Anniversary event.
This week has reinforced my strong view that Worcester has all the ingredients to be a major tourist centre and we should get a grip on it by marking out a heritage trail, like so many other cities, with arrows on the pavement signposting tourists to all the main sights in an easy way. For example, attending an evening showing at the Museum of Royal Worcester Porcelainproved what a worldwide heritage we have to sell. The following day, I hosted a group of Chinese students in The Mayor’s Parlour, confirming that the Chinese are high-spending tourists. Another opportunity to “sell” Worcester came when I welcomed in The Parlour a group of students from Le Vesinet, one of our twin towns, and I spoke of how essential it is that we all remember our common European heritage and history in which we have so much in common, with very few real differences.
Like most men, I don’t enjoy spending too much time on clothes shopping but during my afternoon in the High Street, I was struck by the universal courtesy, helpfulness, and friendliness of all the sales assistants I met. So, a big thank you for making my task almost enjoyable and for giving the tourists a good impression of our City.
When I did the Grand Opening of Perry Manor Care Home I realized our City has cutting edge facilities to offer too. This Home is a model for the future as it felt more like a hotel than a traditional home (I was tempted to book a place there, but not just yet!). And congratulations to the Home for building up a fantastic relationship with Perry Wood Primary School. Well done to the teachers and staff for producing such polite and enthusiastic children who helped with the opening.
Opening the Family Fun Day in Cripplegate Park in aid of Frankie’s Legacy was yet another reminder of how many volunteers we have in the city who give their time and expertise to organize events and fundraise for worthy causes and, on a lovely sunny day, so enjoyable too. Well done Lisa and Russell.
This has been a very spiritual week for me. On the last day of term at the King’s School Service at the Cathedral, the Bishop of Worcester gave a radical and innovative exhortation to school leavers not to fear failure because, by not taking risks, people will achieve nothing and be nothing. How right he was – fortune favours the brave.
The Cathedral service a few days later for the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire was a suitably grand event with the address reminding everybody in a timely way that nobody has any secrets from God. Then, the Procession to Evensong at St. Swithun’s Church to mark St. Swithun’s Day revealed one of the City’s many hidden historic and architectural gems. You must visit it – right in the heart of the City, free Friday lunchtime concerts, part of our heritage, and waiting to be more fully used by the people of Worcester!
Also a free-entry must is Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum, which is running a “Fancy Pants” exhibition celebrating Style - 1920-1945, just proving how many styles come back into fashion!
Because of our great British summer weather, I haven’t been to an outdoor performance for years – but A Midsummer Night’s Dream at The Commandery was an absolutely perfect evening, a truly polished performance (thanks to Chris Jaeger and Ben Humphrey). Please support Shakespeare at the Commandery, which has now become an annual event.
Again, proving the diversity of our City, I opened the SOSFest14, the South Worcestershire Community Safety Day at the Racecourse to celebrate partners working together to deal with problems, particularly following this year’s flooding. With the ambulance service and the army there, amongst many others, I was proud to see the wide range of public safety and security skills and resources always available to us. Hundreds of people were there on a hot day enjoying a great range of activities and entertainments.
Well done and thank you to the police – and in particular Superintendent Mark Travis – for organising it all.
I have had two main feelings about this week’s engagements, namely being privileged, and one of humility by having attended two very important events and meeting other people who have worked so selflessly and tirelessly for those who are disadvantaged in some major way.
I was genuinely honoured to have started Worcester’s Race for Life at the Racecourse on Sunday, not just because I got to use a claxon for the first time (and let it rip for too long) but because I saw so many volunteers – of all ages –start the course and then presented many of them with a medal on their return. And to the young volunteers who took “selfies” with me, thank you for setting such a good example. I am very proud of you. As I said in my opening speech, “Let’s kill cancer.”
On the previous day, I attended the Summer Concert and Celebration Day at New College (used to be called the Blind College). I was so impressed by the high quality of the art work produced that I am arranging for an exhibition of some of it to go on display in the Guildhall, so people can see what dedication and perseverance can achieve.
These two events alone should make us all stop and think – and realise that our own everyday concerns and worries pale into insignificance compared to somebody with cancer or a serious inability to see anything.
I am pleased to confirm that the Mayor’s charity will be making a donation to the Worcester Cathedral Charitable Fund, which makes grants to the poor and needy.
For the second time in a month, I had the pleasure of attending the Licensing and Installation of a new vicar in the city, this time for the Rev’d George Davis for Holy Trinity & St Matthew (Ronkswood). It is wonderful to see new youth and enthusiasm coming into our ecclesiastical life. And again, what a beautiful hot and sunny evening. Let’s hope there are more events like these to come!