A mixture of sadness, pride, and fun this week.
Laying a wreath at Astwood Road Cemetery in remembrance of prisoners of war was another timely reminder of what war actually means. The Lights of Love in aid of St. Richards Hospice was an opportunity to celebrate the memories of our loved ones who are no longer with us. After the Cathedral service, we processed down to St. Andrew’s Spire where we placed our lit candles on the ground. The Worcester Festival Choral Society’s Faure Requiem in the Cathedral was a piece of very moving beauty which felt very apt at that time. Congratulations to the WFCS Chairman, Ben Cooper.
Pride came with my visit to Perry Wood Primary School for their World War One Tea Party where the children had made so many beautiful art and craft items. It was difficult to choose a winner, because every item was a winner in my mind. My thank you was to invite the reception class winners to The Parlour for tea and cakes. And how nice it was to see the children talking to the many residents from the local Care Homes who had been invited along.
I was immensely proud at Tudor Grange Academy’s Prize evening in the Cathedral. As so many of my constituents’ children go there, it was heart-warming to see so many familiar names picking up their awards. And, again, at the Worcestershire Group Training Association Annual Apprentice Awards Evening at Sixways, I saw so many young people realising their potential having attained the right level and type of skills to pursue careers they were obviously enjoying. There’s a message there for all our students in schools and colleges.
The fun part was turning on the Christmas Lights outside The Guildhall from the top of a double-decker bus. The crowds were amazing and stretched as far as I could see up to Foregate Street Station. As that moment marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season, I urged everybody to enjoy the extra shopping hours and be happy.
As always, the Swan Theatre came up trumps with their production of “Noises Off”, a very fitting farcical way to end another wonderful week.
The Remembrance Sunday Ceremony attracted the largest crowds ever, testament to the honour and gratitude we all owe to the heroes who gave us everything they had – their lives. The Woodbine Willie commemoration in St. John’s cemetery in the afternoon and the Remembrance Day wreath laying reinforced this message.
My father was at Dunkirk, Kohima, and Gloucester Hill in Korea. Surviving just one of those battles would have been remarkable, but to have survived all three was certainly against the odds. Where would this country be today without heroes like that?
In remembering all the wars since the Second World War, let me draw your attention to the large plaque above the Roll of Honour in The Guildhall. This took me over one year’s determined effort to get put up some years ago, to commemorate all those killed in the more recent conflicts, such as Korea, who do not have a memorial of their own.
The Never Forget musical at The Swan Theatre was high energy song and dance, but also had a serious underlying message – well done to Dick Saunders – as did the opening of the World War One in The Words of Worcestershire People exhibition, at the City Art Gallery.
My sporting prowess continued to be tested with a really lovely event, opening the first Filipino Winter Basketball League at Bishop Perowne school. For a few seconds, I felt very athletic tossing the ball to start the first game of the tournament; then I quickly got out of the way! (British players are also involved.) Basketball is tremendous fun to watch – it’s such a fast-moving all-year-round sport, a good alternative to football. And thank you for making me so welcome.
The Herefordshire & Worcestershire Sports Awards at Sixways was a high tech affair, during which we heard some moving stories about players’ struggles to succeed. Persistence is clearly the dominant factor.
This was clearly demonstrated by Worcester City last Sunday, with their epic FA Cup First Round victory over Coventry. I’d like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all the players; this city is so proud of you.
Commemorating the Battle of Gheluvelt of 1914 was a strong theme last week. I saw off Andrew Trickett and a group of cyclists early one morning, and two Morgan car drivers on another, all making journeys from Worcester to Gheluvelt in Belgium to support worthwhile causes.
At the Centenary Commemoration in Gheluvelt Park I was given the very highest honour of inspecting the troops (and the Mascot, a ram called Private Derby XXX.) I told the troops how incredibly proud the whole City is of them and I repeated this message at the Banquet in the evening.
As always, I’ve met a number of tremendous charity fundraisers. At the Lions Club District Governors Wife’s Appeal dinner we saw harrowing films about homelessness and hopelessness. The dinner, cooked by those who were once homeless or who continue to be homeless, shows how highly skilled somebody can become given the opportunity. On a lighter note, I remember the event because a rather determined and persistent lady kept loudly accosting me with “I want your pants.” Not knowing whether my luck had changed or whether she was just drunk, I first tried to ignore her but when that didn’t work, I promised to let her have a washed pair when my Mayoralty ends!
The Crowngate hosted two very worthwhile public service events, namely the Big Energy Saving Week campaign and the WCT Volunteer Fair. Although we all dash from one shop to another, it’s worth taking a few minutes to talk to stallholders trying to do a good turn for us and others.
I was so excited to light the bonfire, the size of a block of flats, on Pitchcroft on Saturday to open the Round Table Bonfire Night. The press of a button (no naked torch, thanks to health & safety) and flames went up in an instantaneous whoosh and crack. Thank you Round Table for organising this event. They are people who selflessly give their time and money to do good works for others, like The Lions Club above.
Do pop down soon to The Commandery to see the original and thought-provoking Exhibition of Digital Photographs. Well done Brian Bullock.
It’s always a pleasure to host tea in The Parlour, in this case for Jonathon Wood who won two prizes at the Summer Reading Challenge. Congratulations to Claire and Matt Wood for bringing up such a polite and considerate young man. He even gave his little sister the last piece of chocolate on the cake!
Awarding somebody the Freedom of the City happens extremely rarely, as there has to be a very large majority on the Council to approve it. So it was most extraordinary to have two ceremonies in one week, firstly for former Councillor Mike Layland, and then for the Queen’s Royal Hussars. I was honoured that my signature is on the Scrolls that I presented.
Wednesday was a very education day, starting at RGS The Grange’s assembly, where I presented the prizes to children who had won the Name the Bridge competition in Gheluvelt Park and whose suggestions are now on the plaques. Then, after officially opening the Archway Academy, I was shown the range of practical skills being taught there, the carpentry and brick-building being especially impressive. Many of the students had made enormous progress since starting.
Being in my own Ward, I was also particularly happy to have opened the new Sport England Play Space at Oasis Academy in Warndon. The £30,000 outlay will provide the children with state-of-the-art facilities – and I can think of no children who need and deserve them more.
So much is going on in our City at the moment. I attended the opening of the Carden St. Cafe, a very interesting social enterprise providing training and employment opportunities for people to develop their skills and help them into jobs. I saw the success of this in the Training and Enterprise Centre, with some beautifully restored furniture which would be a delight in any house. A few days later, I opened Practical Car & Van Rental, yet another new business enterprise creating jobs.
Always delighted to be asked to present sporting awards, I was really excited to give out prizes at the Worcester Swimming Club Open Meet to the winners of the “Skins” competition, in which our youngsters did Worcester proud with the best results overall. In presenting the prizes at the Droitwich Archery Society Annual Double Worcester, I did so as their ‘Lord Paramount’ – an absolutely fantastic title.
At the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Launch I urged people to live for the future, but also to remember and never forget the past.
- 24/11/2014 13:45Ushakov Medal Ceremony
- 24/11/2014 15:40Mr and Mrs Matthew Bennett
- 24/11/2014 19:15Installation Service
- 25/11/2014 19:00Friends of Royal Worcester Annual Dinner