Although the Mayor’s Charity Dinner and first ever Best of Worcester Community Awards Ceremony was long in the preparation, we were rewarded with a brilliant success. It was the result of my review of all the Mayoral functions to ensure they remained fit for purpose and relevant.
This traditional event was transformed into an enjoyable celebration of so many individuals and organisations that have done something for others. And with an amazing 173 nominations, it clearly struck a chord and met a need.
The winners included nine year old Ben Chadwick who swam 50km to raise funds for the hospital team which saved his life as a baby; Snoezelen, who provide support and help for those in need of a multi-sensory environment; Lyppard Hub which improves community spirit and goodwill; Clancy Radley and Jacob Watton of Deaf Direct for helping hundreds of young people who suffer from a hearing disability; Two Pennies Money Advice who provide free advice to local people with money problems; and Sue Wright/Dilys Round/Barbara Good of St. Clements Church for running a Saturday afternoon tea party for elderly and lonely people.
And the Mayor’s own personal commendation went to Hollymount School, in recognition of the dedication and commitment from the teaching and non-teaching staff and the achievement of the pupils for working so hard – often in difficult circumstances – to achieve success.
Another innovation was top caricaturist Mick Wright, who left guests with a unique memory of themselves – what a talent to capture people’s characteristics in a matter of minutes!
All the proceeds will go to local charities, including my Come On In project to tackle the problem of loneliness amongst older people by setting up a network of luncheon and film clubs/snack & chat/meet & greet groups; as well as Forces Support who provide practical help to families when it is needed most following the loss of a soldier in action; and the Cathedral Charitable Trust to help the poor and needy.
So, a huge thank you to everyone who nominated or was nominated. There are only winners in this situation – no losers – and I hope this starts the tradition of recognising and rewarding Worcester people for all the work they choose to do for others, without ever expecting or seeking anything for themselves.
The launch of the King John Exhibition at Worcester Cathedral to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta has highlighted our City’s great history, which has aroused strong international interest from the USA and elsewhere. In case anybody doesn’t know, King John is buried in the Cathedral – so go along and see Worcester’s history for real.
In reading out a message from the Queen, I attended another piece of history when I ordered the raising of the Commonwealth Flag over the Guildhall for Commonwealth Day on 9th March – a reminder of our proud Imperial past.
Continuing the City’s commemoration of the First World War, I am very pleased to have endorsed a musical tribute which local composer Ian Venables has been commissioned to write.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service Long Service and Excellence Awards Ceremony was a timely reminder of the superb work our NHS ambulance staff undertake 24 hours every day, showing true dedication and commitment to helping others. What a pity the media don’t pick up more on all this good news.
I was honoured to be the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Worcester South’s lunch meeting when I spoke about my having travelled to 171 countries, and my plans and enthusiasm for further worldwide adventures once my Mayoralty ends.
A varied group of guests came to The Parlour for tea-tour-chat this week. A group of children from the 1st Crowle Beaver Scout Group were delightful – polite and very interested, especially enjoying the cells and sitting in the Mayor’s Council chair – so it was fitting that I have just launched a plan of action to upgrade the Guildhall cells for visitors.
How heartening that organisations such as the Scouts still exist to instil and bring out the best in our young people. And a very welcome group of exchange students from the Kreugymnasium in Dresden reminded us of the need to enjoy and share our common European heritage without the futility of war.
And what a wonderful way to end another packed week, by attending a performance at The Swan theatre of “Fiddler on the Roof” by Great Witley Operatic Society!
What a way to start the week by attending the Chinese New Year Celebrations. The huge crowd saw an incredible display of colour, energy, and extraordinary acrobatic skills. I was exhausted just watching it all. I was actually born in the Year of the Dragon which rates me as “a born leader!” Thank you, Frankie Tsang, for organising it all – and we look forward to next year’s celebrations too.
I was hugely honoured to have been asked by Worcestershire County Cricket Club to officiate at a special ceremony to unveil a Blue Plaque at the Whitehouse Hotel to commemorate the actual date (3rd March) when the Club was founded there 150 years ago, officially marking the beginning of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations. Also, a special thank you to the Hotel’s Leisure Centre Manager who, in giving me a tour of the facilities, was almost certainly being polite when he said the gym could actually do something for me! I did promise to consider joining up after my Mayoralty!
Earlier that morning at The Arena, I had experienced the success of school sport in the County today, clearly demonstrated at Sainsbury’s Winter School Games 2015. A lot of young enthusiasm and talent lies out there.
Having recently judged the winners of the Fairtrade Poster Competition held amongst local Primary Schools, it was a pure delight to welcome the children and parents to The Parlour for tea (with Fairtrade chocolate) and a tour. The quality of the drawings demonstrated a high level of skill and imagination, which made choosing the winners very difficult.
Saturday evening at St. Peter’s Baptist Church had me hearing Manuel and Jill Queiroz’s account of their Ultimate Road Trip from north Alaska to southern Argentina. As it involved seven months’ camping, it was not a trip I could ever do but – as a voracious traveller myself – that only increased my admiration for their achievement. Also, well done to Carole and Tony Langford for organising the event in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The week’s guests to The Parlour included a group of students from New College (formerly the Blind College). It was humbling to see these youngsters take on the world in such a positive and enthusiastic way. They make our routine moans and groans look completely pathetic.
Without doubt, one of the highlights of the Mayoral Year was my visit to the Queen’s Royal Hussars at their base in Germany to participate in a tank exercise – and to develop the close relationship between the Regiment and Worcester.
After I presented the scroll investing them with the Freedom of the City last year, the Regiment paid our City the highest honour by extending a special invitation to its Mayor to spend time with them on duty. The British army is without doubt the most professional in the world and my visit confirmed what a fantastic bunch of troops they are.
For me, driving and firing shells and rounds from two Challenger2 tanks will remain an unforgettable experience and memory. Despite jocular comments to the contrary, I can confirm that I slid effortlessly into and out of the tank although I must confess that the extremely tight space inside made seats in British Airways economy seem like positive luxury!
I am sure we are all looking forward to Saturday 27 June when the Regiment will be exercising its Freedom to march through the City – so make a date to go along and enjoy what will be a great day of pride and fun. A special thank you to Lt. Col. Alex Porter and RSM Neil Rudd for making my day so very special – and for the seamless efficiency and friendliness they demonstrated.
Opening the Young Enterprise Spring Fair in the High Street and then presenting the Awards to the winners gave me much pleasure as these young people – most of them no more than 16 years old – had set up and registered their own businesses. Hugely impressed by what I saw – enthusiasm, imagination, originality, initiative, professionalism, confidence – left me very optimistic about the future. Amazing uses for old vinyl records particularly aroused my interest, as a collector and user still of vinyl myself.
My guests this week included a group of staff from Tesco’s – and what a lovely bunch of people they were. Both of us are on the front line for the public and it was interesting to learn about their various roles. For 20 seconds they were all Mayor, as they tried on the Chain of Office.
- 27/03/2015 19:00Wyre Forest Charity Dinner
- 28/03/201555+ Retirement Roadshow
- 29/03/2015 12:45Worcester Male Voice Choir Annual Presentation Lunch
- 29/03/2015 19:0044th Anniversary of the Independence & National Day of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh