One of many pleasures of being your Mayor is that I receive many visitors to The Guildhall. Groups of local schoolchildren, charities and clubs and overseas visitors marvel at this Grade one listed building and love to hear about its history. They are always impressed by the paintings hanging from the walls and, most of all, by the magnificent ceiling and chandeliers in the Assembly Room. There is only a handful of other places in this country where it is possible to view a ceiling of the same style, and you have to pay to see them. Ours is the only one which is free!
Many Worcester residents have never been inside our Assembly Room, and I would encourage you to visit with your families and friends. After all, if you are a city council taxpayer, you are paying for it!
I was delighted to invite Fred and Pat Gowenlock.for afternoon tea in the Parlour. Fred has been a very active member of the Salvation Army for many years and was the council’s contact there. Fred shared with me some of the history of the “Sally Army” in Worcester, including a story about an officer imprisoned in the Guildhall cells for three nights! Thank God their band still plays on our High Street. Christmas would not be the same without it.
Lynn and I enjoyed meeting a group of young people from city high schools, who were about to finish two weeks of voluntary service. These fantastic people completed a challenge from the National Citizen Service and have raised several hundreds of pounds for Acorns Children’s Hospice.
A group of residents in Vauxhall Street invited us to join their barbecue on Saturday. The weather could have been brighter, but it stayed dry. It was good to relax and chat to people in my Rainbow Hill ward; we thank David Kemp for his hospitality.
I hope everyone in Worcester will share my pride that two Paralympic UK teams are based in our city. In a few days, the men’s and women’s National Wheelchair Basketball Teams will be heading for Rio!
I was delighted to host a reception in The Guildhall on Wednesday to meet all 24 squad members and their support team to give them a great Worcester send-off. These are world-class athletes who train hard and have been very successful so far – the men’s team won the European Championships last year here in Worcester and we all hope they will win Paralympic medals in Rio and give us even more cause to celebrate their success.
The University of Worcester Arena is the teams’ home base and the university is to be congratulated for having the vision to build this world class centre of excellence for disability sport. I’m really looking forward to watching our own national teams taking on the rest of the world, which should be beamed back from Rio on Channel 4.
It was also great to open two events during the week, which are now well-established on our city’s calendar. The Worcester Festival started on Saturday, with 380 events planned to take place in 33 venues until 29 August. Two-thirds of these events are free and most of the rest cost less than £5 so there is plenty for everyone to enjoy. Many events are for children and will keep them occupied during the summer holiday.
On Sunday, in fine and sunny weather, the Worcester Show took place in our award-winning Gheluvelt Park. Bigger and better than ever, the show had around 1,100 competition entries of magnificent vegetables and fruit and there were 160 local exhibitors. More than 10,000 adults and children visited the show and it was a great honour to both open it and to present the prizes.
I have been a member of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) since it started in the seventies. This consumer organisation was set up to protect traditional brewing, then threatened by a few very large drinks manufacturers who wanted to replace “real ale” with more profitable very fizzy, pasteurised, filtered and characterless beverages made in large factories.
So I was delighted to open this year’s CAMRA beer, cider and perry festival on Pitchcroft. Around 200 real ales and 100 ciders and perries were available, many from our local area. CAMRA is rightly proud of its achievement – and thanks must go to the army of volunteers who worked to make our festival such a success.
On Monday, daughter Lucinda accompanied me to help celebrate the first birthday of Sanctuary Grove in St John’s Bromyard Road. This includes a 60-bed care home, 24 retirement living apartments and bungalows, 60 independent living apartments and 14 apartments for adults with learning disabilities. As we live longer, there are more and more elderly people who need these services and I was delighted when residents told me the staff are so caring and friendly. Residents enjoy excellent facilities and we saw many taking advantage of the entertainment and activities on offer.
Visitors from Worcester, Massachusetts, USA, arrived this week and I invited them to tea in the Guildhall. I also joined them and members of our own Twinning Association for dinner. It is good to continue these friendships with our twin cities.
Jenny Meadows, the World and European 800m runner, came to the Countryside Centre near County Hall on Wednesday to support our Worcester 10K run, which takes place on Sunday 18 September. It was a pleasure to welcome her. We watched large numbers of children enjoying the free activities organised by Freedom Leisure; it was good to see so many youngsters having fun in the sun.
Recent stories in the Worcester News and elsewhere about people being abused simply because they look or sound “foreign” to their abusers have made depressing reading. As a local councillor and Mayor, I represent all our residents, whatever their places of birth or ancestry, and try to encourage people to reach out to and value people with a different heritage.
The party last week at the Horizon Community Centre in Midland Road was a great way to celebrate diversity and Lynn and I were delighted to attend and support it. Over 100 people, including lots of children, celebrated the Muslim festival of Eid by sharing food and conversation. Children jumped on bouncy castles and their angelic-looking faces were painted, transforming them into Spiderman and other heroes. Well done Worcester Community Trust (WCT) for providing this happy event.
Much of the most valuable work in our city is done by volunteers, who give up a few hours of their time, not for payment, but to make life better for others and WCT could not exist without them.
Other people volunteer to read and record stories from the Worcester News so that blind and partially-sighted residents can enjoy what sighted readers take for granted. Every week, Worcester News & Equipment Services for the Blind makes over 200 copies of a two-hour recording session produced by a team of volunteer readers. These are delivered free of charge to subscribers’ homes so that they and their friends can listen to the news. I enjoyed being a guest reader last week and helping this superb service.
I also enjoyed welcoming to the Gulidhall the first of four groups of students from China, hosted by our University.
It was a real pleasure to open the newly refurbished London Road Post Office. My friend Councillor Jabba Riaz has worked extremely hard to ensure that this valuable community facility, under threat of closure, now has a secure future.
- 27/08/2016 11:00Worcester Arts Workshop Open Day
- 27/08/2016 13:00Visitors from Vernon and the Twinning Association to the Parlour
- 27/08/2016 19:00Banquet of the Heraldry Congress
- 01/09/2016 11:00Unveiling of Cornmarket Statues