Last weekend was easily one of the most enjoyable yet, mixing with so many people who were having a great time in the sun at two superbly well organised events.
On Worcester Artillery Day, after a Remembrance service at the Cathedral, I was honoured to take the salute with the Lord Lieutenant as 214 Battery Royal Artillery exercised their Freedom of the City to march through the city and commemorate their 150th Anniversary.
At the family fun afternoon that followed at Pitchcroft, I was pleased I could use the dignity of my office to decline an offer to get into a tank. I saw a man of similar shape get in beforehand, but I didn’t see how (or if) he got out.
The parachute drop was remarkable for the skill with which the men manoeuvred themselves to land bang on target, despite some banter from a “competitive” quarter in the army hinting that they would have to fish them out of the river instead
The day’s finale, the Beating of the Retreat, got people clapping to the music and, standing where I was, I can confirm that the firing of the guns was something you won’t forget. Pity, though, that it was not live ammunition – as the gulls only disappeared for a short while!
Thank you Worcester for supporting our heroes and showing how proud we are of them. The crowds were so deep outside The Guildhall that the vehicles could only just get through. The military will always get a most warm welcome while I’m mayor.
In opening the Floral Marquee at the Worcester Show in Gheluvelt Park, a massive queue of people rushed in to see the exhibits. Marrows the size of five rugby balls and cabbages the size of pillows were to be seen.
I was advised that the taste of the onions, the size of small footballs, was the same as the normal sized ones as were the tomatoes, but that the marrows and cabbages would not be edible. So I suppose the message is that, when it comes to flavour, size can matter.
I also learned from the Bonsai Society that man can almost precisely control the shape and size of any tree, but it may take some years.
Presenting the prizes was a tribute to so much excellence on display.
Given the size of our City at just under 100,000, we are disproportionately blessed with organisations and volunteers who put on an almost endless stream of Festivals throughout the year.
Just as the Three Choirs finishes, so the Worcester Festival 2014 starts for two weeks. It’s packed with activities, entertainments and competitions for all ages and interests, most of them free.
It was therefore exciting to have attended the Festival Launch last week with the organisers. This really is an event for everyone since it celebrates Worcester and all aspects of the City, and I’ve already found out just how many of those there are in the cultural and historical spheres alone.
Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, I was proud to lead the Civic Procession from The Guildhall to the Cathedral on Saturday.
Photo courtesy of Worcester News
I did the Second Reading – the parable of the lost sheep – reminding us all of the importance that God places on people who acknowledge their faults and consequently change their ways.
In thinking that through, I thought how hard that must be for those politicians and others who have started wars. Hardly any of them recently have admitted they got it wrong, despite the inevitable, enormous and very obvious life-changing consequences for literally millions of other people, preferring instead to write memoirs justifying their actions.
Admittedly, the bigger the error such as starting a war, the harder it is to acknowledge it, but then the greater will be the reward for those who do.
My historical research has shown that the Mayoral Chain of Office is 150 old this year so I shall be commemorating it in an event later this year by holding an open day when people can come along to see it, touch it, and even put it on for a photo if they would like to.
It is by far the most valuable and fascinating Chain in the country. Not only people from Worcester, but also from far and wide, have heard about it and are rightly interested in and proud of it.
It’s always good to start the week positively, as I jointly hosted a reception in College Hall in the Cathedral to mark the end of the Three Choirs Festival and to thank all the participants. Most of them were justifiably tired, but pleased with the way everything had gone and were looking forward to a rest or holiday.
I then rapidly moved on to what will be the first of many serious events to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War (there will be on-going events for 2015 to 2018 to parallel the years of the war.) This service of remembrance, held at the Army Reserve Centre, was part of the Lights Out campaign between 10.00 p.m. and 11.00 p.m., at which point in 1914 the war actually started with the British declaration of war on Germany.
It was a real pleasure to meet so many enthusiastic and cheerful men and women members of the Battery – but perhaps not surprising since they were in the Bar at the time - who freely give of their time to be part of the Army Reserve, with some coming from as far away as Shropshire. A nice touch was that some passers-by were allowed in to the parade and it was a pure pleasure to see the look of excitement on the faces of the children with the gunfire volley at 11 p.m., followed by another one two minutes later.
I’m often concerned about the low participation of young people in so many of our institutions and organisations, so I was certainly elated by my attendance at the Swan Theatre’s performance of Footloose by Worcester Operatic & Dramatic Society Youth Section (WODYS). Remember, these youngsters are only aged 8 – 18 years old, but it was such a lively and professional performance you forgot that fact.
There are 70 young people in WODYS, with another 78 encouragingly on the waiting list. In particular, I must applaud the lead actor, Jack Cashion who played the part of Ren, and I very much hope he achieves his ambition to read History at Oxford. To the production team and organisers – thank you for a superbly enjoyable evening.
I started this week with a tour and reception for the Make Time Friendship Group, a club to help people who feel isolated and lack confidence socialising get out and about. And just think of those nice words – who of us is honestly too busy to make time for others? We all endlessly rush around and often overlook the most important things in life – our family and friends. So, can I thank those people, from wherever they come, who just knock on the Parlour door (or wander in!) to look at the most beautiful office in the whole of Worcester. They’re mainly tourists so I always direct them to our Museums and shops and ask them to spend their money.
I witnessed a truly amazing act of Christian charity in Gheluvelt Park when about 100 young people from a week-long Christian camp near Worcester, participating in the Take Pride In Worcester campaign, cleaned up and painted the railings, the main gate and equipment in the play area. For so many young people who do not even live near Worcester to serve our City in this way is an impressively vivid way for the true meaning of Christianity to show itself. It is like the work of His Holiness, Pope Francis, in making his church so much more relevant by returning to fundamentals in a secular and selfish world.
Of course, this week has seen Worcester host the Three Choirs Festival, the world’s oldest music festival. It was good to mix with colleagues from Hereford and Gloucester at the receptions and the Thursday concert of Elgar and Vaughan Williams could only ever be a pure delight and, significantly in the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this concert was supported by the German Embassy. I also attended the Launch of the 2015 programme, to be held in Hereford, which will be the 300th Anniversary of the Festival. However, without wishing to be churlish about it, that is only based on some very dubious figures about when the first Festival actually took place, and on excluding war and other years when it did not take place. Let’s just say, the arithmetic is somewhat unreliable! And, anyway, Worcester did host the 200th Anniversary event.