I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and standard of JD Wetherspoon’s refurbishment of their pub and beer garden in Crown Passage, but I wasn’t expecting the re-opening of the historic Crown Hotel to offer such delightful accommodation. The Hotel, originally opened around 1669 as a coaching Inn, offers 18 bedrooms spread over three floors (including two pairs of rooms which are interconnecting) and a disabled access room. The rooms feature an ensuite bathroom, tea and coffee making facilities, hair dryer, flat-screen television and Wi-Fi, as well as digital air-conditioning and temperature control.
The design is based around music, since composer Sir Edward Elgar played and rehearsed in the building in the late 1800s. Each bedroom has a hand painted violin as a piece of artwork. The bedroom carpet has an abstract pattern taken from one of Elgar’s music scores and the corridor carpet similarly follows this idea with a musical emblem as the pattern, as well as musical themed paintings.
My “Day in a Wheelchair” seemed to attract a lot of publicity and, for me, was a bit of an eye opener. Apart from getting soaked in the rain as I found it’s impossible to hold an umbrella and propel the wheelchair at the same time, I found lots of difficulties that I would have otherwise been unaware of. Slopes and gradients could be a problem and they certainly affected direction and stability and being so low down meant cash machines (ATMs) were unreadable as the angle of the light striking them blanked out all the instructions. Items on high shelves in shops couldn’t be reached and one needed help to get to them and strangely, when I was accompanied, people occasionally spoke over me to the person with me rather than directly addressing me.
Why would I do this you might ask? Well two main reasons – firstly to promote the forthcoming European Wheelchair Basket Ball Games to be held at the Arena and to encourage support for Team GB!! The other reason was to help raise general awareness of the difficulties faced by wheelchair users, and to understand some of the issues.
Sophie Carrigill, Team Captain of GB Wheelchair Basketball was great company, so don’t miss out! There will be 73 action-packed matches split over 33 sessions – great opportunities to watch top class sport and support the Great Britain teams as they embark on their road to Rio.
Weight Watchers should have been with me at the opening of the new branch of Oak Furnitureland at Blackpole Retail Park, as the cake they displayed as part of the opening ceremony was that of a young lady subject to a partially complete autopsy! A clever idea to reduce calorie intake, if a little gruesome! If you haven’t guessed, it was a fund raiser!
The opening of VJ Day celebration was a moving occasion, with a good turnout of both residents and members of the Royal British Legion. A short service was held on the steps of the Guildhall and afterwards people could view the material on show on the stalls that had been set up on either side of the entrance. Apart from the significance of this being the 70th anniversary, we were privileged to have Fred Seiker with us, signing copies of his book, “Lest We Forget” – a Booker prize winning story about the Railroad of Death in Burma.
Fred, a local chap, was captured when the Japanese invaded and overran the island of Java and he was sent to work on the Thai-Burma railroad, where the most horrendous of the prisoner of camps were, resulting in the highest number of deaths among all the camps. He was not repatriated until 1946. Fred is now 99 years of age, he will celebrate his 100th birthday on the 20th November. Fred once said, “You never live until you have almost died”.
On a lighter note I then had the great pleasure of opening the 13th Worcester Festival which started with the great sounds of the Gugge Band as they rhythmically swaggered up the High Street from Elgar’s statue.
Then the fun started as The Rock Choir followed Gugge, and the sounds of both gave the crowd some really great entertainment! This year the Festival is hosting 387 events at 32 venues, of which 228 are free and a further 118 are less than £5.00!
The Worcester Show over in Gheluvelt Park was the best yet, it has been estimated that some 10,000 visitors came and what a show it was! This event has been getting bigger and better each year and this year saw more than 900 entries in the marquee and over 150 local exhibitors representing exceptionally high standards throughout.
The Flash Mob started things off and then the ribbon was cut, crowds poured into the marquee to see the hundreds of entries and how they had been judged. I saw the best Begonia I have ever seen and the biggest cabbage by far!
Michelle Newell and her team excelled in producing this truly great event, the weather smiled on us and the wonderful atmosphere completed the picture. Everyone I spoke to (and that ran into hundreds) said they’d had a lovely time. My thanks to “Our Team” at the City Council for delivering such a good event.
Worcester City Council’s Sport, Art and Play Development Team have once again excelled this year, organising coached sports at 14 different venues across the city for two to 18-year-olds. Having visited one such event at Gheluvelt Park, I can honestly say they are a great success. At this particular venue Jo Pavey MBE came along to meet the children and add a certain magic to the event. Jo won the 10,000m gold medal at the 2014 European Championships in Zürich and has represented Britain in both the World Championships and the Olympic Games. It was great to have her present.
Hannah Cox heads the council’s sporting offer and I really must congratulate her on this and all the other sport and play events around the city. She and her team provide a high level of service and the kids thoroughly enjoy these events.
The Mayoress and I were invited to the Swan Theatre for a delightful production of Annie by WODYS, the award-winning youth section of Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society. They were great, 61 performers took part aged from eight to 18 years of age and between them produced a wonderful evening of first class entertainment. WODYS were formed in 1982 and have performed at the Swan since 1992.
Auditions were still being held in January with rehearsals every Saturday morning starting February 15 and all performances were sold out. Look out for next year’s show which will be Les Misérables School Edition. Book early as tickets will sell out quickly.
A group of Chinese students attending an English course at Worcester University came to the Guildhall for the awarding of their certificates of achievement. Not only were they over here to study English, but also cricket, baking cakes and the wonderful heritage our Cathedral City has to offer. They were a lovely and appreciative group who genuinely seemed to love Worcester, the people and its history.
The Worcester Beer, Cider and Perry Festival offered close on 200 types of beer, over 100 ciders and around 30 different choices of perry. I’m not so keen on the ciders and perry, but some of the Beers were very good indeed!
I don’t think I’ve seen a beer festival quite that big before and the marquees were just enormous. Food was available and being blessed with good weather helped tremendously, with everyone seeming to be having a good time.
A busy and interesting week, it started with a tour of Acorns Hospice which, whilst very sad, was certainly inspiring. The facilities, colour schemes and architecture are superb, providing support, engagement and comfort for the residents, and the staff are incredibly committed and caring. It is ten years since Acorns opened and the gardens are becoming quite mature; there are areas of fun, colour and solace and walking around the grounds one feels as if one is away from everything, no hint that the location is in that of a city!
The Mayoress and I had the opportunity to visit ASPIE, a social self-help and motivation group for adults with Asperger’s Syndrome, providing a drop-in point and place of comfort. ASPIE was founded in 2011 by the late Sarah Micklewright with the aim of providing a place where Aspies can meet one another and the good work is now continue by her mother, Julia.
The theme of “good work” continued when Harry Turner, Chairman of Worcestershire NHS Trust, allowed us an opportunity of being shown around the new Oncology Unit and the new Birthing Unit, both of which were amazing. It didn’t feel like a normal hospital environment as it was so colourful, light and beautifully designed. Encouragingly we saw the plans to extend the A&E Department and to further extend the car parking facilities. This is one hospital that is reaching out and succeeding, to improve services and facilities, giving patient stays a more beneficial outcome and making them a more pleasant experience.
The finale of our visit to the Worcester Royal was to meet and thank the volunteers who so admirably support the work of our hospital staff and management. They are a great group of people who deserve our praise and thanks. So much more is achieved because of them!
It was a pleasure to attend the 800th anniversary celebrations of the Royal Charter being granted to Droitwich by King John in 1215, with a re-enactment of the King’s visit to the town. The charter gave the burghers the right to produce and market salt from the remarkable natural brine springs which emanate from subterranean beds of pure rock salt 200 feet below ground level.
Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and the re-enactment was great fun. I’m not too sure about the authenticity of King John arriving on a canal barge, but it added an additional fun element to the day.
The Worcester Foodie Festival was great. We had 60 stalls of which 25 were city centre businesses and many others were suppliers to city centre businesses. 15 businesses are signed up to our Food and Drink trail with 20 running activities, offers and competitions. As part of the Foodie Fortnight which runs until 9 August we have 10 businesses running ‘Breakfast Club’ offers and 12 doing the same for Lunch. 12 are also doing either a special £5 or £10 menu. The aim of the Foodie Fortnight is to get people to venture into places they might not have tried before and do so without needing to doing on the Foodie Festival weekend when it will be busy anyway.
Footfall in the High Street was up by some 45% – now that’s what Icall a success story!
Anecdotal feedback from the traders and the public has been fantastic with a wonderful atmosphere and Jean-Christophe Novelli ‘stirring’ up a frenzy to melt the hearts of some Mademoiselles who met him during and after his Masterclass sessions.
The last evening of the 2015 Three Choirs Festival was marked with a reception in the Bishop’s Palace Garden in Hereford, a delightful setting by the riverside bathed in sunshine and set amongst some glorious trees.
The Three Choirs Festival is a national treasure, champions of the British choral tradition; it represents the greatest and largest works in classical music night after night during a festival which has been a spiritual presence at the heart of the nation’s cultural life for 300 years. Look here for more information:- http://www.3choirs.org/
- 31/08/2015 12:45Lead the Carnival Parade on the top of a bus
- 31/08/2015 18:00Civic Reception for the European Wheelchair Basketball Championships
- 31/08/2015 21:30Worcester Festival Firework Finale
- 03/09/2015 12:45Attend the 2015 European Basket Ball Championships