The Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority Award Ceremony was for people who had acted beyond the call of duty. The most touching moment has to go to fire fighter William Doolan, who tried so extremely hard on stage to prevent a massive smile breaking out whilst awaiting the Silver Axe Award. What a pity not every organisation has these ceremonies to appreciate their workforce.
Two charity events reinforce my point about people acting selflessly for others. Congratulations must go to Angie Smith who organised her first-ever Fundraising Day at Archdales Club in Warndon for Cancer Research, raising an incredible £3,000.
The Community Fete on Sunday at Ronkswood Community Centre (thank you Jean Wilson) raised money for New Hope, benefitting children with severe disabilities. I enjoyed being met by Emily the Elephant and although I wanted to have a go on the bouncy castle, I feared it would be too risky for the castle. I spent a delightful evening at St. Mary’s Church in Kempsey at a Charities Working Together event organised by Heather Davies, where we had presentations from The Red Cross, Christian Aid, and Save the Children, much of which was very harrowing.
There is history behind every corner in our City, and I was in the middle of it at the Annual Commemoration Service for the Battle of Worcester in Old St. Martin’s Church, in the Cornmarket. You wouldn’t think such a beautiful building could be squeezed in next to two pubs opposite a car park. But that is Worcester for you.
Opening the refurbished Acorns shop in Mealcheapen was a particular honour as few of us can compare with the incredible work done by these incredible people, such as providing care and support to children so close to death and looking after the family 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Acorns relies on voluntary income and the Worcester Hospice costs £7,500 a day – that’s £750 per bed. So, please go in and spend some money.
And what a Wednesday. Starting early morning at The Tour of Britain, I never knew how enjoyable it would be with such excitement oozing from the huge crowd. We must now work hard to ensure Worcester keeps it here as part of the annual calendar.
Later I sat on a Panel involving Starbucks to give grants to young people organising charity fundraising events. They deserved and we awarded the full amounts requested.
A lovely start to the week, with a chat and tea in the Parlour with Naomi Smith (and her Mum) who is writing an article about meeting the Mayor for her school, Nunnery Wood High. I look forward to reading her thoughts and impressions. How refreshing to see a 12 year old asking questions, taking notes, and showing a real interest in her surroundings.
With every day being unique, a large part of Tuesday was taken up by the BBC filming an episode of Father Brown from the Parlour and elsewhere in The Guildhall. Although they just wanted a shot of somebody coming out of the Parlour, it took an hour to do and, five large lorries of equipment and six hours later, the shooting was nearly all over for that day.
For a short while, there was a most amusing interlude when I wanted to return to the Parlour from the second floor, but without being allowed to go through the Main Hall. I thought I was stranded until I was shown an almost secret back route down eerie corridors, past empty offices. Still, an interesting discovery. Anyway, thank you BBC for showing millions of viewers in the near future what a wonderful building we have! If it implies the building may appear a little old fashioned, so much the better, that’s what gives it its character and interest – and why we must preserve it as it is.
On Wednesday I was treated by the Battle of Worcester Society to a Drumhead Service in Fort Royal Park, to mark the anniversary of the battle. This was surely one of the most important battles in British history, as it allowed Cromwell to lay the foundations of the modern British state and we soon then became one of the world’s greatest powers. And remember, the opposing armies were that of King Charles 11 of Scotland and his invading Scottish army, and Cromwell, the Lord General of Great Britain and Ireland. How fortunate we are to have a Society which continues to commemorate this momentous event.
At the same time, I as Mayor never forget the local issues of my constituents in Warndon. The week ended on a high also, with two successes when I managed to help a young family move into more appropriate housing, and also got an area of mass overgrowth behind a number of gardens in Cranham Drive cleared. Both took persistence, so the success was that much sweeter.
For much of my career – as a student, teacher, and M.P. – the real beginning of the year for me has been September rather than January. So now is a good time to look forward, and also back.
Two big events coming up are the new Mayor’s People’s Banquet on October 10, and the Be My Guest project.
I have now finalized a radical revamp of the Mayor’s annual banquet to ensure that, as a People’s Banquet, for the first time a true cross-section of Worcester society will be invited, according to new criteria, recognizing the good work of people who would otherwise never be rewarded for what they do.
The Be My Guest project is an attempt to encourage some interest in civic affairs by inviting schoolchildren and students into the Mayor’s Parlour to have a convivial meeting to talk about historical and current affairs, and have a tour of The Guildhall followed by refreshments.
Looking back, I have attended numerous events to mark the outbreak of the First World War, with still more to come. But apart from rightly honouring our fallen heroes, have we learned the lessons of that tragedy? I fear not.
Even today, this country has now been at war in the Middle East for 11 years. The questions we must answer are: do the horrors of the fighting – the wanton death and destruction – justify the end? Although countries may win the military campaign, do they actually win the war?
I am frequently reminded of this since right outside the Mayor’s Parlour, behind the wooden panels, is a whole wall containing the handwritten Roll of Honour listing those 4,981 Worcester people who served in the First World War, of whom an astonishing 741 were killed.
Let’s make all that worth it and, because life is not a rehearsal, let us think of the consequences before we act or speak.
Last weekend was easily one of the most enjoyable yet, mixing with so many people who were having a great time in the sun at two superbly well organised events.
On Worcester Artillery Day, after a Remembrance service at the Cathedral, I was honoured to take the salute with the Lord Lieutenant as 214 Battery Royal Artillery exercised their Freedom of the City to march through the city and commemorate their 150th Anniversary.
At the family fun afternoon that followed at Pitchcroft, I was pleased I could use the dignity of my office to decline an offer to get into a tank. I saw a man of similar shape get in beforehand, but I didn’t see how (or if) he got out.
The parachute drop was remarkable for the skill with which the men manoeuvred themselves to land bang on target, despite some banter from a “competitive” quarter in the army hinting that they would have to fish them out of the river instead
The day’s finale, the Beating of the Retreat, got people clapping to the music and, standing where I was, I can confirm that the firing of the guns was something you won’t forget. Pity, though, that it was not live ammunition – as the gulls only disappeared for a short while!
Thank you Worcester for supporting our heroes and showing how proud we are of them. The crowds were so deep outside The Guildhall that the vehicles could only just get through. The military will always get a most warm welcome while I’m mayor.
In opening the Floral Marquee at the Worcester Show in Gheluvelt Park, a massive queue of people rushed in to see the exhibits. Marrows the size of five rugby balls and cabbages the size of pillows were to be seen.
I was advised that the taste of the onions, the size of small footballs, was the same as the normal sized ones as were the tomatoes, but that the marrows and cabbages would not be edible. So I suppose the message is that, when it comes to flavour, size can matter.
I also learned from the Bonsai Society that man can almost precisely control the shape and size of any tree, but it may take some years.
Presenting the prizes was a tribute to so much excellence on display.
- 17 September 2014 10:00Meeting with Gary Smee – Editor of Worcester Observer
- 18 September 2014 09:00County Council meeting
- 18 September 2014 10:00The Deputy Mayor will attend the Older People’s Showcase event
- 18 September 2014 11:00The Deputy Mayor will attend Worcestershire Lifestyles AGM