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.
I started the week at the City Art Gallery choosing three pictures to be displayed in the Mayor’s Parlour for my year in office. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted but it turned out to be quite difficult given the range and quality of pictures available. I chose an unusual view of the Cathedral from across the river; a different view of the Malvern Hills; and a big-sky open field, the remote and empty beauty of which I found so inspiring.
The Swan Theatre continues to provide top class enjoyment with The Vicar of Dibley and the WODS production of Mack and Mabel. Given the wide-ranging and innovative nature of the entertainment, the Swan Theatre is certainly a venue for everybody, not just theatre buffs. So go along and try it.
The Guildhall was the magnificent setting for a British Empire Medal (BEM) ceremony, an ancient award for people who have given exceptional service to their local communities.
The concert in the Cathedral in celebration of Donald Hunt’s 40 years’ service involving the Elgar Chorale – the Cathedral Chamber Choir and the English Symphony Orchestra – was a truly uplifting Worcester affair. Well done Donald – a magnificent performance.
Back to the Cathedral the following day for the Shrievalty Service in honour of the High Sheriff, an office which is over 1,000 years old, whose powers are now largely vested in high court judges and magistrates.
The Suddert Kennedy (Woodbine Willie) Commemorative Service in St. Paul’s Church produced an amazing wall of enthusiasm and energy from the band and congregation. It was the first time I had experienced a full Pentecostal service and, boy, was it memorable. I was exhausted just watching it. Well done David Warren, the Minister. The superb sermon referred to something I have been warning about for a long time, namely that modern technology is creating isolation as people increasingly rely on gadgets rather than actually talking to each other; and it also adds to stress as there is pressure for everything to be instant when, in fact, few things are that important.
What a wonderful week! The hard work and thought that went into the exciting and first-ever People’s Banquet made it a runaway success. It was my way, on behalf of the City of Worcester, to thank ordinary working people and volunteers for the good work they do for others, and who would otherwise possibly go unrecognised or appreciated.
It was my opportunity to reach out to the people of Worcester and give them something back.
There is a lot of talk about encouraging young people and small businesses, I did both by inviting along Will Thompson-Brant, Creative Director of Bohemia Entertainment, an exciting new young musical talent to do the live entertainment. Well done Will – what a superb performance.
It was a real pleasure to launch St. Martin’s Church’s £90,000 appeal to get the rewiring done. Given this daunting task, it was amazing that people were wearing “SMILE” badges. With that spirit, I am sure they will deservedly meet their target.
My visit to our University was, as always, a fascinating insight into our bright present and future. With its state-of-the-art resources and flexible approach, the University now attracts global companies to commission research. And most of the courses are geared specifically to enabling the students to get jobs afterwards.
The Be My Guest programme of inviting into the Parlour schoolchildren and students for a tour, tea, and chat to evoke some interest in civic affairs, is proceeding apace with visits last week from Stanley Road, Fairfield, and St. Clements Primary schools, particularly relevant in this Local Democracy Week. And aren’t kids fun. On my visit to Hollymount School, I was introduced to a queue of children as The Mayor when one little six year old looked up and asked “Mayor of what?”
Another memorable weekend, starting with a thought-provoking and lively performance of Voices of War at the Swan Theatre about the First World War and war in general; and finishing with the Mayor of Kidderminster’s Civic Service on a crisp autumnal morning.
Being invested as an Honorary Member of the Rotary Club at the County Cricket Club on Monday was a fantastic way to start the week. Rotarians work tirelessly to raise money for good causes locally and throughout the world.
As an avid lover of books, it gave me particular pleasure to present the medals at The Summer Reading Challenge 2014 Awards Ceremony in St. John’s Library on Saturday, and at Warndon Library in the Fairfield Centre on Wednesday. It is heartening to see so many children reading six books over the summer holidays and meet all the parents who have encouraged and supported them in doing so. Reading books is an essential skill we must always cherish and preserve.
Attending the Chamber Music @ Worcester Opening Concert in St. Oswald’s Chapel on Saturday evening was so civilized that it reminded me of my Oxford days. And thank you, Shulah of the Astaria String Quartet, because, no, I didn’t know there were so many differences between a violin and a viola!
I was delighted to open the Worcester Hearing Show in The Guildhall on Friday after which we had a fascinating explanation of what an extraordinary organ the ear is, and I saw the amazing range of devices to deal with hearing problems. Although hearing loss is often age-related, I did express my concern for the younger generation given the dangerously high volume at which they have become accustomed when listening to and playing their music.
I was proud to attend the Worcestershire Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade Annual Founders Day Parade Service in Sansome Walk Baptist Church on Sunday and to see so many young people doing something constructive in their spare time and receiving the Queen’s Badge, the highest award available.
I was relieved to attend the Worcestershire County Harvest Festival in the Cathedral on Sunday as I was beginning to fear that our traditional harvest festivals were dying out. It was a great event with real farmers and real food. We must continue with this tradition, especially for children, so they don’t grow up thinking all our food is grown in tins or cling film.
Northwick Manor Primary school this week launched my exciting “Be My Guest” programme whereby I am inviting into the Parlour schoolchildren and students for a tour, tea, and chat to stimulate interest in civic affairs. The pupils were delightful – polite and inquisitive – especially when one little girl said she thought I was the nicest person she had ever met! (Honest.)
- 31/10/2014 11:00The Mayor will attend the Centenary Commemoration of the Battle of Gheluvelt and will lay a wreath a
- 31/10/2014 15:00The Mayor will attend the opening of World War One in the Words of Worcestershire People
- 31/10/2014 19:00The Mayor and Mayoress will attend a dinner to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of Gheluvelt
- 01/11/2014 18:00The Mayor will light the bonfire at Worcester Bonfire and Fireworks Night