Without doubt, one of the highlights of the Mayoral Year was my visit to the Queen’s Royal Hussars at their base in Germany to participate in a tank exercise – and to develop the close relationship between the Regiment and Worcester.
After I presented the scroll investing them with the Freedom of the City last year, the Regiment paid our City the highest honour by extending a special invitation to its Mayor to spend time with them on duty. The British army is without doubt the most professional in the world and my visit confirmed what a fantastic bunch of troops they are.
For me, driving and firing shells and rounds from two Challenger2 tanks will remain an unforgettable experience and memory. Despite jocular comments to the contrary, I can confirm that I slid effortlessly into and out of the tank although I must confess that the extremely tight space inside made seats in British Airways economy seem like positive luxury!
I am sure we are all looking forward to Saturday 27 June when the Regiment will be exercising its Freedom to march through the City – so make a date to go along and enjoy what will be a great day of pride and fun. A special thank you to Lt. Col. Alex Porter and RSM Neil Rudd for making my day so very special – and for the seamless efficiency and friendliness they demonstrated.
Opening the Young Enterprise Spring Fair in the High Street and then presenting the Awards to the winners gave me much pleasure as these young people – most of them no more than 16 years old – had set up and registered their own businesses. Hugely impressed by what I saw – enthusiasm, imagination, originality, initiative, professionalism, confidence – left me very optimistic about the future. Amazing uses for old vinyl records particularly aroused my interest, as a collector and user still of vinyl myself.
My guests this week included a group of staff from Tesco’s – and what a lovely bunch of people they were. Both of us are on the front line for the public and it was interesting to learn about their various roles. For 20 seconds they were all Mayor, as they tried on the Chain of Office.
It’s always comforting to start a week well as it often indicates a trend. So I was very proud to help launch Worcester 10K 2015 at the County Cricket Ground. The enormous success of last year’s race showed how well Worcester can organise a top class event. This year’s will be even bigger and better. Whilst it’s about encouraging people to participate in physical activity, it’s also about having a fun day out and there will be more stalls than ever to guarantee our enjoyment.
What a delight to have attended the second anniversary of Latimer Court Care Home. The minute I walked in, the atmosphere was friendly and caring and the devoted staff provided what the residents want and need most – personal attention and time to talk and help. I will always remember the poems and readings by amazing resident Dorothy Capper. The more risqué ones were the funniest! So, thank you Dorothy – keep on making people laugh. We could do with people like you on the Council! And congratulations to Dulcie Fletcher, the very first resident of Latimer Court, to whom I presented a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
An enormous amount of very rewarding time was spent last week drawing up the shortlists for the first-ever “Best of Worcester” Community Awards which will be presented at a ceremony at the Mayor’s Charity Dinner on 20 March. We were over the moon to have received a staggering 173 nominations, all of which were given thorough consideration. Without exception, everyone was worthwhile and had merit so, in that real sense, every nomination was a winner.
Having recently hosted a group of students from the school, it was good to meet Mr Mark Pollard, the new incoming Head Teacher of Bishop Perowne, and to wish him well. I know he has a superb set of pupils to work with.
Never forgetting to look after my constituents in Warndon and Gorse Hill, I attended a meeting of the Blackpole & Fairmount Community Group and took up a number of issues; then met a resident at my Saturday surgery to investigate her concerns about a social services matter.
As it’s half-term week, it was fitting that I started the week by attending a session of Worcester’s Free Half Term Multi-Sports Activities with the city council’s Sport, Art and Play Development Team providing a whole week of activities for two-18-year-olds across the city. It was wonderful to see the one at Warndon Youth & Community Centre with council staff and youthful volunteers from, for example, the University engaging with the children in a range of physical games. It is so true that what most children really want and need is time and attention from their parents and others. Getting this physical activity is so important. It makes you feel alive and, by being occupied, keeps the youngsters out of trouble. Instead of sitting in rooms with headphones on glued to some computer screen, come on Worcester youth – live a little and enjoy it.
It was a real pleasure to officially open such a worthwhile event as the three-day open house at the Love Your Home Shop in Crowngate. This is a one-stop-shop where all the community partners such as health, fire, police, Neighbourhood Watch, Crimestoppers, and Trading Standards are available for the public to pop in and get help and advice. What a wonderful idea to be able to talk to somebody face to face – and what lovely smiling helpful faces they were too!
Never forgetting the need to look after my constituents, I visited a lady on Windermere Drive to try and sort out a highways problem she has had to put up with. How rewarding it was to have found a solution that she is happy with.
I was proud and honoured to have represented Worcester at the Mercian Regiment’s Freedom of the District Parade in Bromsgrove and mingle with the troops afterwards. Good to see that the troops’ plates at the reception were even fuller than mine, although I was just a bit surprised (and concerned) that there was an enormous number of cans of beer left unopened at the reception – and they were all free!
This week certainly started off on a massive high with the Civic Service in the Cathedral, an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the mayoralty and our great city. Nobody can put on such a well organised and polished event as the Mayor’s ceremonial officers and Guildhall staff in conjunction with their Cathedral colleagues. I was very touched that so many people who attended the packed service commented favourably on my theme of “cherishing your family and friends”, which was woven seamlessly throughout the entire service and reflected in a brilliant sermon by the Dean.
Hosting a group of Friends of KGV Grandee Club in the Mayor’s Parlour at the Guildhall confirmed that being young is not about age but about your attitude and outlook on life, and these ladies were great fun. And they liked my quip that they should treasure my mayoral badges as they will soon be worth at least £10 on ebay!
Cutting the ribbon to officially open Nexus’s new housing development in Fairmount Close, Warndon, was especially dear to my heart as I have been involved with it right from the beginning. In particular, it was a house on this new site to which I helped a young family move and I was so happy to meet Gemma and Jamie again and see how that move had truly changed their lives. Hard work and persistence pay off and most of what I do as Mayor and a councillor is all about people. Also, thank you to Keith Beck for your work as Chairman of the Blackpole and Fairmount Community Group; and to Bal, Estate Manager from Nexus.
Always enthusiastic about strengthening the City’s overseas ties, it was a delight for me to host a group of pupils from Freiherr-vom-Stein Gymnasium in Kleve, Germany. Wonderful students – they could all speak and write excellent English, of course. And thank you Damian Aschenbrenner who wrote in the Visitor’s Book: “Your Mayor is great! Keep him for ten more years at least.”
And how nice to end another exciting week with a performance of Brief Encounter at The Swan Theatre. Such a moving and wonderfully English story.
Nominations for the Mayor’s Charity Dinner and first-ever Community Awards ceremony close on Monday February 16. Any individual or organization can nominate and be nominated. You can make a nomination at www.worcester.gov.uk/communityawards or pick up a form from The Guildhall, Warndon and St. John’s Libraries, and The Hive.
- 06/03/2015 10:30The Mayor will meet with Ian Venables to discuss the commemorations of the centenary of the First Wo
- 06/03/2015 11:30The Mayor will meet with the Rotary to discuss the ‘Best of Worcester’ charity dinner
- 06/03/2015 14:00The Mayor will meet with Keith Slater to discuss the ‘Best of Worcester’ Awards
- 06/03/2015 18:30The Mayor will attend a reception to launch the King John and Magna Carta Exhibition