The highlight of the week was our invitation to start Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life. Around 2,000 ladies formed a sea of pink as they gathered on Pitchcroft ahead of the race, to warm up and hear encouraging words from the stage. Most participants had either been afflicted by cancer themselves, or knew someone close to them who had. There were fond memories of those who passed away, but determination to help Cancer Research UK raise money so that diagnosis and treatment can be improved.
Mayoress Lynn has been successfully operated on to remove a cancer within recent weeks, so she was pleased to share her own story and encourage the runners.
Last Thursday was St Swithun’s Day, when rumour has it that any rain on that day will be followed by 40 days and nights of further downpours. There was an odd shower, but we have had wonderful dry and sunny days in the following week. Since former Mayor Jo Hodges began the tradition in 2000, there has been an annual procession of the mayor and councillors from the Guildhall to St Swithun’s Church for a special evensong service.
This wonderful ancient church is used for worship only rarely, but is open to the public for organ recitals in summer and restoration work is planned so that visits will be even more enjoyable in future. We were made most welcome by Raymond Fowler from the Friends of St Swithun’s and Rev Brian Gant who lead the service. Afterwards, we shared a magnificent cake with the rest of the congregation.
We opened the Worcester Referees Society summer fete and visited others hosted by Dines Green School and the Horizon Centre in Midland Road. Visitors to the Mayor’s parlour included Dr. Liu Peng, the Deputy Director of China’s International Business School, and groups of children from Hollymount and St Barnabas primary schools.
One of the scariest things to be asked to do as a primary school child is to make a speech in front of an audience of class-mates and teachers. But self-confidence grows with practice, and is an important life skill. For this reason, The Rotary Club of Worcester has been running its Junior Youth Speaks competition in Hollymount and St Barnabas primary schools for several years.
So I was delighted to be invited to judge the St Barnabas competition and faced the very difficult decision of choosing the winners from six excellent finalists. Well done to all the prize winners and participants both here and at Hollymount.
Worcester has now been a Fairtrade City for ten years and – as the councillor who proposed this to the council a decade ago – I was extremely pleased to welcome Anthony Wood and other members of the Worcester Trade Justice Network, whose hard work and determination brought this about, to a special reception in the Mayor’s Parlour. Buying Fairtrade products means that some of the poorest workers in the world are not exploited, but paid fairly, so they can feed and educate their children. How well this idea fits my theme of “No community left behind”!
The mayoress, my wife Lynn, and I thoroughly enjoyed RGS The Grange speech day, celebrating the success and achievements of their pupils.
I was also able to tour St Richard’s Hospice with its chief executive Mark Jackson. We are extremely fortunate to have this superb service here, which supports those facing life-limiting illnesses and their families with amazing care and compassion, often in their own homes.
Two groups of language students from Italy toured the Guildhall and I was delighted to welcome them. Lynn and I also visited ASPIE, which supports people with Asperger’s Syndrome. This condition is poorly understood by most of us and ASPIE provides space and activities to make friends with others experiencing the same condition.
My busiest week so far was dominated by remembrance services for the Battle of the Somme. I launched a charity fundraising initiative at Individual Tailoring, opened two exciting new Worcester businesses, visited three school concerts, a community Ramadan celebration, attended one civic event and welcomed a group of young visitors from Stuttgart, Germany.
Friday marked the Battle of the Somme centenary, the darkest day in British military history, when 60,000 of our citizens were killed or injured in a single day. The early morning service at the war memorial and one in the Cathedral in the afternoon were both inspiring and fitting tributes. Keeping these memories alive is important because surviving relatives know that we still care. We are also reminded that war means loss of lives and must always be a last resort.
On a happier note, the concerts were celebrations of musical achievement by extremely talented blind and partially sighted students at New College and very young children at RGS The Grange. Ian Venables’ song cycle “Through These Pale Cold Days” also had its world premiere at RGS.
Small businesses are vital to our city, so it was good to open Worcester Eyecare in Sidbury and RedPoint Indoor Climbing Centre in Midland Road. Worcester Eyecare offers state-of-the-art optical care and RedPoint brings a superb new facility to our city, which helps users to exercise in an exciting and challenging way. Individual Tailoring in The Foregate launched an innovative idea which both helps local charity and supports their business. Donating an unwanted suit gains £50 discount on a new one – and the old suit is sold by St Richard’s Hospice to raise funds.
Breaking the fast with our Muslim friends in Fort Royal Park was wonderful – people of different ages and faiths sharing fun, food and conversation.
Mayoress Lynn and I were delighted to visit the Art Exhibition at Worcester Sixth Form College. Fine examples of textiles, graphics and photography were displayed, created by students as part of their coursework. Judging by the high standards, some high grades can be expected.
Stanley Road Community Primary School was next, for their Starfest Festival of Theatre. Children of all ages performed a variety of historical, comedic and improvised drama, with tremendous enthusiasm.
The Summer Fayre at Cherry Orchard Primary School luckily had dry weather, as several outdoor activities were offered to raise funds and provide entertainment for both children and parents.
Saturday was the Queen’s Tea Party at Berkeley’s Chapel, for residents of the alms houses at Berkeley’s Hospital and Nash’s and Wyatt’s Court. Their wardens had worked hard to decorate the chapel with lots of red, white and blue and to provide delicious food, so the party was much enjoyed by the guests.
King George V Community Centre, Brickfields, hosted an art and archives workshop for children from Hollymount and Fairfield primary schools, designed to inform them about Worcester’s past in a fun way. This was part of the “Strong Rooms” project by the county archives staff from the Hive. The culmination will be a major installation in Gheluvelt Park in August.
The Royal Grammar School’s Commemoration Service in the Cathedral was wonderful. Many students participated, reading, singing and playing music to a high standard. Staff had clearly prepared students well and they did the school proud.
I chaired the full City Council meeting on Tuesday evening, which was much calmer and more co-operative than many, and my week ended with a visit by students from Munich to tour the Guildhall with their hosts from the Sixth Form College.
- 25/07/2016 10:00Welcome a group from the North Worcester venture Scheme to the Parlour
- 26/07/2016 10:00On-line portal for young people meeting
- 26/07/2016 13:30Welcome 2 groups of students from Bologna to the Parlour
- 27/07/2016Officially open the Zip Yard