Two addition plaques were recently “unveiled” noting the locations of Trinity Gate, near the Corn Market, and St Nicholas Gate, (which was also known as Gaol Gate), in St Nicholas Street. I believe originally there were nine gates through which Worcester could be entered back when it was a “walled city”; most have now been identified and plaques erected, thanks to the efforts of the Civic Society and sponsors. I’m very much in favour of these plaques as they help to bring Worcester’s history to life and preserve important locations. They are helping to make Worcester more interesting for our visitors while making us, the people of Worcester, more aware of our city’s past.
The ribbon was cut to open Colmore Tang Construction’s transformation of the former MEB offices on Blackpole Road into luxury apartments, known as Bridgewater House. The £10 million redevelopment by property developer Seven Capital has seen the building revitalised into one and two-bedroom properties, with a penthouse suite at the top of the building. providing residents with scenic views across the city towards the Malvern Hills. Demand for the apartments has been high, with all 75 apartments selling in just two months!
Whiston Court retirement community, off Upper Tything, opened its doors to reveal 37 one and two bedroom apartments, beautifully-designed and finished. But most importantly, it’s a not-for-profit development run by a local charity called the Abbeyfield Worcester Society, which is dedicated to combating loneliness among older people in Worcestershire. Aimed at the over 55s, Whiston Court offers assisted living accommodation for those who want to remain independent. It has the option of on-site support if needed, and it prides itself on its caring community ethos.
Recently I had the pleasure of making a speech from the pulpit. Not being ordained, this was a bit unusual, but the congregation seemed pleased with my few words. The venue was the lovely St Swithun’s Church, which lies rather hidden (just off the High Street and adjoining The Shambles). Built in the 1730s, it is often described as a “Georgian gem in the heart of Worcester” and has changed little since. Owned by the Churches Conservation Trust, they are about to embark on major repair work to make the roof watertight and provide some much needed toilets and heating facilities. I had been invited to see what could be achieved if a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and monies raised locally can be secured. There are some exciting plans which will bring the church back to life, if all goes to plan. I wish them every success.
St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Warndon, (just off Chedworth Drive), which opened in 1966, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a service led by Archbishop Bernard Longley. Fr Paul, who is the Parish Priest, was delighted by the number of people that attended, in fact the school hall was packed to capacity and it was a lovely service. The children were incredibly polite and well behaved and were a credit to both the school and their families.
On a sporty note, it was a pleasure to welcome representatives of the University’s “Champion” Netball and Wheelchair Basket Ball Teams to the Guildhall to celebrate their recent success. They were all great ambassadors of both their sport and our University and they made the occasion a very enjoyable one. I wish them every success in the future.
The Queen’s 90th Birthday was celebrated here in Worcester by the lighting of a beacon on the top of Fort Royal Park. Fortunately it was a dry, albeit chilly evening, but ideal weather to celebrate outdoors. As we lit our beacon we could see the Worcestershire beacon alight on the Malvern Hills. It was a great event with a lovely atmosphere and everyone present enjoyed the event!
I met with Chris Martyn-Smith at the recent Retirement Show held in the Guildhall and was delighted to hear of the initiatives the local company is pursuing in an effort to raise local awareness of dementia.
Chris said that ‘’Eclipse HomeCare wants to help families who want a better understanding of how best to support loved ones living with the onset of dementia. This is a problem that families are increasingly having to deal with and our monthly briefings from one of our clients provide a practical insight in how best individuals can be supported whilst at home’’.
Alzheimers UK estimate that there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and that this number will rise to 1,000,000 by 2025. This is represents 1 out of every 3 people over the age of 85, so the hard fact is that many families will be touched by dementia at some stage.
The next talk in Worcester is planned for the evening of Tuesday 26th April. For more details please email info@EclipseHomeCare.co.uk
St Martin’s Church, along London Road, was the venue for an afternoon of song. Worcester Male Voice Choir partnered with Choeur d’ Annebault, a Choir from Le Vésinet, France, a town with which Worcester has a friendship agreement. The concert was very good and there’s history in this too! A short drive from Le Vésinet is Vernon, with which Worcester has a Friendship Pact. In August 1944, the Worcestershire regiment helped liberate the city and it was this historic event that prompted the two cities to become closer. The town also takes part in Worcester’s annual Victorian Fayre and gave its name to Le Vésinet Promenade, near Sabrina Bridge in Worcester.
Continuing the musical “note”, (excuse the pun), the Guildhall hosted a superb event with Worcester Concert Brass playing before an audience of over 90 and the band played superbly. They are always good and on this evening, they were at their best. Knowing my love of all things RAF, they played the theme from the film 633 Squadron and it sounded absolutely brilliant. It was very moving and listening made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Everybody present expressed their delight at such great entertainment. Not only was it a very good evening, we raised over £800 for the Mayor’s charities. My thanks go out to both Worcester Male Voice and Worcester Concert Brass, for two superb events.
Also in the Guildhall, the Annual Medical Lecture took place, an event initiated by Dr. David Tibbutt when he served as Mayor. The event actually started in the Boardroom of the old infirmary, in Castle Street, where we heard a brief explanation of the history of the room and the foundation of the BMA. This was followed by a very interesting talk by Dr John Harcup on the life and times of Charles Hastings. After a bite to eat and a coffee we proceeded to the Guildhall for the second part of the evening.
This year we had the honour of welcoming Dr Martin Skirrow, retired consultant medical microbiologist who worked in Worcester from 1968 to his retirement in 1990. Before this he trained in Tropical Medicine in Liverpool and worked abroad as a doctor, doing his national service as a medical officer in the RAF. He was instrumental in discovering Campylobacter, a cause of particularly nasty enteritis (diarrhoea), although he is modest about this. Although it is not really possible to attribute the discovery to a single person, he was absolutely key to the discovery. Dr Skirrow is a charming man who delivered a very technical matter in a way that lay people could understand and enjoy. An audience of 80-plus gave him rapturous applause and several stood and spoke in admiration of his achievements.
The Mayoress and I had the pleasure of two visits from America, both in the Mayor’s Parlour and quite different in character. Two young ladies came over from Worcester College in Massachusetts where they are studying engineering, to see how charities work over here and how funding is achieved. My other visitor was Brother Rex, a Franciscan Monk from the city of Auburn, Maine, who was very interested in the history of our city.
Amidst the numerous Mayoral engagements I did find time to support the Mayor of Bewdley’s (Councillor Calne Edginton-White) charity fundraising event at West Midlands Safari Park and what a lovely event is was too. This was my first visit, although my wife has visited the attraction before, and I was pleasantly pleased with the experience. I’m not sure quite what I expected, but the occasion was set both in the beautiful surroundings of Spring Grove House and the lovely countryside. We had the opportunity to see a variety of animals in some very well managed environments and I’ve taken the liberty of including a photo in this blog.
Auction night at the Swan was a real fund raiser, some fifty odd items were auctioned in front of an invited audience raising over £5,000 – an amazing effort for a great cause. Whilst mentioning this I must pay tribute to Chris Jaeger and the Team at Worcester Live; their work has assured the future of the arts in Worcester, as has the efforts of Colin Kinnear, who has proved to be a great benefactor to the arts scene here in our City.
Whilst at a Mayoral function in Pershore, I met the Deputy Mayor’s consort, Sandra, who told me that she had found an old book in her father’s garden shed that related to a former Mayor of Worcester. The Councillor in question was Emanuel Percy Thomas, known locally as “Pumpy” Thomas. He was Mayor for three years in succession during the first World War, and was one of Worcester’s great characters as well as being a generous benefactor to Claines Church. The book in question is a tribute to him and is beautifully scripted and decorated, listing the members of Council at that time and the positions and names of Officers. It is an amazing find and we are currently looking to preserve the book so that it may be displayed in the Guildhall.
Fortis Living held a celebration of the regeneration of Dines Green in the area around Gresham Road – and what a good job they have made of it! The houses and new shops are of excellent design, well insulated and energy efficient. The Chief Executive said he was very proud of the scheme, which started with Worcester Community Housing before the merger. He went on to say the company philosophy was to only build houses that they themselves would live in. There is also a cafe close to the Community Centre which will no doubt be a great asset when they hold the Queen’s Birthday Street Party there in the summer!!
Two plaques were unveiled on the platform of Shrub Hill Station, one noting the refurbishment of the Victorian Waiting room (which is well worth a visit), and the other a memorial plaque in honour of those men who served in WW1, together with pictures of six men who died in service. The plaque is unusual in that it is the only one known to display photographs and all those named were of the Great Western Railway Sheet Department in Worcester. It was a lucky find as the original had ended up in pile of other things at York Museum and was quite badly damaged; a copy of the restored plaque will be displayed in the Guildhall as well as at Shrub Hill station.
The Worcester Brass Band concert at the Guildhall was superb; around eighty people attended and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. The music was great and the company brilliant and the sound not only filled the Assembly Room, but overflowed onto the High Street much to the enjoyment of passersby. The band, Worcester Concert Brass, gave their services completely free of charge to help raise fund for Acorns, Daisychain and Sight Concern charities, three great causes and a lovely evening to boot! My thanks to them all for their kindness and an entertaining evening.
Bag packing in Tesco St Peter’s went well with Helen, of Free Radio, raising money for St Richards Hospice. Helen is running the London Marathon and has raised over £3,000 so far, you can support her efforts on behalf of St Richard’s here:- https://www.justgiving.com/hurstyandhelen/
Helen says, “Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page and for your donation!
- 03/05/2016 17:15Angela Landel’s biographical Art and Photography Exhibition
- 04/05/2016 11:00Visitors from Canada
- 04/05/2016 13:00Guiding Light Supported Accommodation Open Day
- 04/05/2016 19:00Charity Dinner