The week started with a delightful visit from French Students to the Guildhall. Their English was superb and certainly put me to shame, as my schoolboy French is rubbish! They found the history of Worcester fascinating and they loved the Guildhall, it seemed that Worcester had gone down very well with them.
First Bus met with us in Cripplegate Park to plant some of the trees they have offered to fund over the next year or so. On this occasion we planted an oak tree and two ornamental varieties in Cripplegate Park: the Foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa) which has trumpet-shaped, violet-blue flowers and the Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) – the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees that dates back to beyond the time of the dinosaurs. I thank Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director of First Bus, for his company’s generous contribution enhancing our green spaces.
The Guildhall was the venue for a very special occasion, certainly something I will not see again! We were privileged to be present as the French Consul awarded two of our citizens with the “Ordre national de la Legion d’honneur”, the highest honour awarded by France. The two gentlemen, who received this award in recognition of their service in France during the Second World War, were present on the Normandy Landings. They are Mr Michael Stone and Mr Eric Tipping; my congratulations to you both.
Holocaust Memorial Day, an event held in the Guildhall and led by students of Blessed Edward Oldcorne College, was the most moving experience. The students read poems and scripts, as well as re-enacting a scene where two ghostly figures of Auschwitz past told of their suffering to three modern day youngsters. The whole delivery was presented with such feeling that several of those present were moved to tears. Dr. David Tibbutt followed up with an equally and very disturbing description of the genocide that happened in Rwanda during 1994. It was very good to experience the understanding, awareness and compassion demonstrated by these students.
On a bright note I must mention the Kay’s Theatre Group product of Little Bo Peep, which was great. It was held at the Swan with a cast of thirty, plus twenty one Harlequin dancers; a festival of fun! This is Kay’s 62nd production – they have performed at the Swan since it opened and before that at the Co-op Hall. Kays Theatre Group originated in the days of Kays Catologue, when the original group – The Sports and Social Club – decided to put on a pantomime for staff and their families to enjoy. The present group continue this charity tradition to this day, and the audience support year after year enables Kays to provide funds to local charities. This year they supported Mentor Link and Perdiswell Young Peoples Leisure Club, as well as providing bursaries to local young people to further their education in the performing arts. You can find out more by going to- www.kaystheatregroup.co.uk
A lovely evening out!!
It proved to be a bit of an educational week, starting with an invitation from The Principal of Blessed Edward Oldcorne College, Mr Sean Devlin, and then an invitation from Mr Michael Painter, Head of Cherry Orchard School. Both visits were very enjoyable and interesting, with Blessed Edward demonstrating a very wide range of educational opportunities and at Cherry, the enthusiasm and excitement of those youngsters just starting out on the educational trail was infectious!
Whilst I had some knowledge of the range of activities within Blessed Edward, I was impressed by the breadth and variety of learning available. My wife and I were shown around by Lucy, Head Girl, and Henry, Deputy Head Boy. Their knowledge of both the college and the extensive range of educational opportunities were second to none – they are both a great credit to the college. I’d like to thank them for their time and for answering our myriad of questions; they made the visit a real delight!
Cherry Orchard Primary School is somewhere I feel at home, not only because educationally it’s about my level, but also because I was a Governor at the school for some twelve years. Each time I go back I see improvements; the school seems to blossom a little more as each year passes. All the staff are as upbeat and enthusiastic as ever. The children were beautifully behaved, very keen and smiles were in evidence everywhere.
I should declare an interest, as we say in Council, in that all five of our grandchildren have passed through these educational establishments, benefitting both from a good start to learning and gaining a very good education – with both schools drawing out, enhancing and developing their better qualities.
You may have seen in the Worcester News that an historic print of a painting by Paul Sandby, showing Worcester after it had recovered from the devastation of the Civil War, was generously presented to the City by Rebecca Johnson and her sister. The coloured print was part of the Worcestershire Exhibition in 1882 and will be hung in the museum.
Also featured in the paper was the viewing of the new plaque to be located on the wall of the Whitehouse Hotel, commemorating the visit and stay of Adams and Jefferson to the Hop Pole Inn during April 1786.
We were blessed (excuse the pun) with an invitation to join Bishop John at The Old Palace for a delightful reception in the Hall overlooking the river side. A lovely way to end the week!
It was mid January and freezing cold, but the reception we received at Worcester Early Years Centre in Manor Farm, Lower Wick, was very warm indeed. Owned by Alice Bennett and built to a very high specification, it is beautifully equipped with every imaginable requirement catered for. From babies through the pre-school years, the care and environment is second to none and the children present were clearly enjoying their time there. The Manager, Sue Foster, spent some considerable time, together with Alice, showing us around –including the beautiful grounds surrounding the building.
She has a great team working with her. Veronica Dowding manages the Nursery Unit, with Jo Graysmark looking after the catering based in an amazing kitchen. We also met Julie Margetts, Nicky Thompson and Jane Gordon, who looks after reception.
Another of Worcester’s gems was uncovered, tucked away in Wylds Lane: the home of the Talking Newspaper! Founded in 1978, by Colin and Beryl Chance, this organisation has provided blind and visually impaired readers with a weekly local talking newspaper, a monthly magazine and an extensive library of some 4,000-plus recorded books. These are freely available to blind and visually impaired people throughout Worcestershire. All services including equipment are provided completely free of charge. The service is entirely run by volunteers and does not benefit from any Government funding.
They are always looking for volunteers to help just a few hours a month as administrators, editors, readers, visitors and audio /IT engineers. They would also like to hear from anyone who might like to receive their services. Worcester Talking Newspaper can be contacted on 01905 767766. A remarkable organisation, doing a remarkable job. As I’ve said before, Worcester Volunteers and Charities are the mortar that holds the bricks of our society together!
Our University continues to grow and develop and we are fortunate to have such a progressive and highly respected organisation here in Worcester. The Mayoress and I had the opportunity to see the new Geology Garden, a quiet external learning and relaxation area. We also toured the Biological Science facilities in the Charles Darwin building, went on to the Biological Science Labs and spent some time with the trainee Paramedics and Physiotherapists. They are a great bunch, training for vital roles in society and, in the process, thoroughly enjoying it. Everyone we met welcomed us and had time for us. It is always a pleasure to visit our University and this was certainly no exception – thank you.
Well here we are in 2016 – where did 2015 go? A year that seemed to flash by for me – no doubt due in part to the busy schedule that is expected of any Mayor, but it probably also has something to do with the fact that time seems to speed up with advancing age!! 2015 was a very busy year, but an enjoyable one. May I take this opportunity to thank everyone that I have met and worked with during my Mayoral year, for helping to make this experience so pleasurable and rewarding.
My first duty for 2016 was to work with Scout volunteers to plant a row of fruit trees in Battenhall Park, the green space between the end of Leven Drive and Battenhall Rise. These trees are helping to fulfil my pledge to have some 2,000 trees planted in Worcester during my year in office and these particular trees will deliver an edible bonus, as they are pear and apple trees. I look forward to sampling the fruit!
I am indebted to Parish Councillor Alan Tidy, who has taken over the role of Chairman of Friends of St Peter’s Parks. Alan has followed my fellow Councillor Mike Johnson in taking on this role, and has carried on where Mike left off. He has been so supportive, not only encouraging volunteers to help with the tree planting scheme, but for actually getting out there himself and digging holes to plant the trees in. Thanks Alan – your efforts are greatly appreciated.
First Worcester Bus Company is also rallying to the call and has committed a sizeable sum of money to plant some specimen trees here in Worcester. First Worcester staff will be planting an oak tree and two ornamental varieties in the Cripplegate Park: the Foxglove tree (Paulownia tomentosa) which has trumpet-shaped, violet-blue flowers and the Maidenhair tree (Ginkgo biloba) – the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees that dates back beyond the time of the dinosaurs. In total they will be donating 230 trees over a two year period.
Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director for First Worcester buses says: ” As part of our commitment to improving bus provision in and around the City of Worcester, we are also committed to the environmental impact and making our green spaces more attractive and enjoyable for residents and visitors to the city.” Thank you Nigel.
There will be more planting events over the next few weeks to help ensure Worcester thrives as a green city. Don’t forget that if you have a garden, you can help too by planting a tree or two!
I wish you all health and happiness in 2016.
- 05/02/2016City Council staff awards
- 09/02/2016 14:30Visit by New college students
- 10/02/2016 12:00Quality Gold Status certificate presentation
- 11/02/2016 13:00Presentation to winning designers of Stay Safe, Be Aware mobile app