Left to right: Mayor of Worcester Roger Knight & Deputy Mayor Mike Whitehouse
Well this has been something of an explosive week. Talk about photo bombing – my diary suddenly became “bombed” by more engagements than I can count!! It was a great honour to be elected Mayor at the Annual Worcester City Council meeting and I look forward with pride to serving our City during this municipal year.
In addition to the usual Mayoral duties we saw the sad departure of our Managing Director, Duncan Sharkey, who is off to pastures new in Milton Keynes. A lunch time reception was held in his honour and around 160 people attended, which I think says something about the man, the job he has done over the past five years and the esteem in which he was held by the team. Good luck in your new role Duncan and our best wishes for health and happiness for the future.
A group of exchange students from Germany visited the Guildhall on Wednesday, arranged by Blessed Edward Oldcorne College. They were a pleasure to talk to, very well behaved, interested in our City and amazed by its history. We also had the honour of marking the celebration, on the Guildhall steps, of the 25th anniversary of Headway, a charity that does some remarkable work supporting people who have suffered with brain injuries
The Sea Scouts had their annual inspection and it was quite an occasion. I was impressed to find that the courses available, allow Cadets to accrue recognised qualifications which, if all the courses available were completed, could be the equivalent of five GCSEs. A Royal Navy Commander, stationed in Bristol, attended and conducted the inspection, which was very thorough, and he fed back to the Cadets his findings and the value of their training, he also spoke to the visitors who had come to see the event. I felt the Cadets were a credit to Worcester and I also believe that they are gaining a great foundation for later life.
Left to right: Mayor Roger Knight, Martha, Sylvie & Joe at the Splashpad
Our parks were inspected this week to ascertain whether or not they are to maintain their Green Flag status. I met with the judges in the “Sons of Rest” in Gheluvelt Park and talked through the progress made and successes that we have had. This particular park has benefited, in recent years from a £1.4m Heritage Lottery grant and apart from a magnificent new play area and general refurbishment, this funding enabled the Splashpad to be built. Replacing a 1950’s paddling pool, the Splashpad has become a real destination and so successful that it contributed considerably in attracting some 750,000 visitors to Gheluvelt Park in its first full year of operation.
Being my last Mayoral column, I must express my sincere thanks and gratitude to all the people of Worcester for your unfailing kindnesses, hospitality, and respect everywhere I’ve been in the City. I hope I have been an innovative and imaginative Mayor.
In reviewing all the Mayoral functions, I wanted to open up the Mayoralty and include the people of Worcester in its workings; and to recognise and reward the good work that so many people do for the benefit of others – hence the first-ever Mayor’s People’s Banquet and first-ever Mayor’s Charity Dinner and Community Awards Ceremony.
My Come On In Project is a continuing ambitious programme to set up a citywide network of luncheon clubs/snack & chat/meet & greet groups to tackle the problem of loneliness amongst older people, whilst my Be My Guest programme invited all the City schools to come in to The Parlour for a tour-tea-chat. I saw how much the children (and adults) loved their visits down the cells, seeing and touching the ceremonial sword, and getting their hands on the Chain of Office!
Every unique day afforded different highlights but amongst the top must include driving a British army tank in Germany and firing live shells; raising a record-breaking £40,000+ for my charities; riding the Christmas carousel in full regalia; and being featured in the local Sports pages!
I hope I have demonstrated hard work and a sense of humour in carrying out my tasks as I have discovered that Worcester has more groups, societies, and clubs per head of the population than anywhere else. They cover just about every interest, leaving no-one bored as they take advantage of our history, culture, arts, and unique location.
My last week was, as usual, was packed with a huge range of events, including the Swan Theatre’s performance of “Pride & Prejudice”; observing a two minute silence for VE Day; observing the workings of the Crown Court; attending a Buckingham Palace Garden Party; hosting a Civic Reception for a high level business delegation from Zhejang Province in China; hosting the Mayor’s Charity Concert by the Worcester Male Voice Choir; officially opening the Worcester Motor Festival; officially opening the Festival of the Fountain on Quay Street; attending the Licensing and Installation of the Revd. Charles Thomas at St. Wulstan’s Church in Warndon, and enjoying the Swan Theatre’s Gala Night. Phew!
My Parlour guests included Tom and Kyle from Riversides School; a group of volunteers from Lyppard Hub; Harry Turner, Chairman of the Acute Hospitals Trust; Les Martin and June, an Australian friend.
Cutting the ribbon to officially open the new Learning Facility at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Warndon was so fulfilling – having cut the first turf – and must be the first school to have a terrace upon which we had tea, of course. I congratulate the school on providing such high quality wholesome education.
I was honoured again cutting the ribbon to officially open the large extension at Warndon Oasis Academy, where the new top quality facilities complement the first class teaching and where I was delighted to meeting more well behaved and polite pupils in smart uniforms. Congratulations to Father Paul (Chair of Governors) and Marian Jay (Headteacher) at St Joseph’s and Matt Meckin (Headteacher) at Oasis Academy.
Warndon is a vibrant community where people want to come and live.
Officially reopening The Talbot Inn in Barbourne was another sign of the vibrancy of our city; and a first for me pulling pints behind the bar. The revamped pub has real atmosphere, a beautiful walled garden, excellent reasonably priced food, and a fantastic range of drinks. Go and see for yourself.
Recognising the staff who give so much loyal service to the city behind the scenes, I proudly presented two Worcester City Council employees with Long Service Awards (I must have been at University when they started!). With Tim Allen being given a Home Pressure Washer and Steve Baker a DVD player, they will clearly be spending their leisure time very differently. Attending a welcome party at the City Council’s new HQ in the Art Gallery and Museum building, I was delighted the Victorian features had been left intact, making for a light and roomy facility.
History is an integral part of our city, so having attended the Sidbury Tattoo Parlour to witness the unveiling of the first of the new City Gate Plaques (and seen the Gate’s massive footing in the basement of the shop), I became engrossed at the Family History Fair held at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where any member of the public is welcome to research their family tree. Do take up this wonderful opportunity.
My day at the Worcestershire County Cricket Ground had everything I wanted – including a bit of sunshine. The game is all about enjoyment and true sportsmanship, and a much-needed civilising influence in today’s world.
- I was immensely honoured to have taken the salute outside The Guildhall at the march-past of the Worcester District Scouts St. George’s Day Parade, after having been entertained to a “dragon fight” in the Cathedral. The City is enormously proud that so many of our young people are in this organisation, doing something constructive and undertaking a great deal of community work for others.
The Worcester Male Voice Choir gave yet another superb performance, this time in St. Martin’s Church for a St. George’s Day Concert. Somehow, the new sleek and very fitting lighting in the church seemed to enhance the sound. Rendition of “The Impossible Dream” is always so moving, and there was much vigour as the audience waved their flags. Let’s keep these English traditions going.
I absolutely loved my Desert Island Discs live interview on Choice Radio at The Royal Hospital, talking about my political career and Mayoral year. My six choices reflected the various emotions and moods that a politician goes through. Tony Deakin is a superb interviewer; his questions were carefully crafted to tease out more information, which neatly led on to more questions. And he had done his research. Well done Tony, and Pete the technician, for putting it all together so smoothly.
The weekend started very happily with the opening of the Riversides School Spring Fair, so successful that I hope it becomes an annual event. Tom, one of the pupils, offered to be my guide for the morning and he did it so well that I have invited him to The Parlour for tea-tour-chat, as a little thank you. Mind you, when the bouncy castle sprung a leak, I did tell people that if they could somehow plug it in to a Council meeting, they would get enough hot air to keep it pumped up for at least a week!
And please, please visit the Museum of Royal Worcester. As I again saw, not only are there so many world class beautiful porcelain items, but it also reflects a vital part of our City’s heritage.
My Parlour guests this week included the Creative Group from St. Paul’s hostel, certainly one of the nicest groups of people I have met. Thank you Damian and Tom for the very kind words you wrote in the Visitors’ Book.
- 30/05/2015The Mayor and Mayoress will attend the Swan Open Day
- 01/06/2015 12:30Meeting with Canon Michael Brierley and James Prior to discuss the Civic Service
- 02/06/2015 10:00Worcester Action for Youth AGM
- 03/06/2015 10:30Environment 2020 Awards Luncheon