Mayor’s Week, 25 – 31 July 2011

Mayor’s Week, 25 – 31 July 2011

Monday 25th: The feedback on the Mayor’s Banquet last Friday (22nd. July) has been most gratifying.

Seven French children (aged 11 – 13 years) from Le Vesinet, France, were brought by the North Worcester Venture Scheme to site-see the Guildhall. As always the visit to the cells under the Guildhall was a spooky highlight.

A few days to spare!! An opportunity to “recharge our batteries”. This next fortnight promises to be busy and exciting especially with the “Three Choirs Festival”. We have had our “half-Japanese” four year old twin grand-daughters to stay…so much for recharging our batteries as theirs seem to have unlimited energy!! They are almost bilingual: then we’ll be in trouble.

Also managed to get more planning done for the City Council’s team going to the Adentan Municipal Assembly, a District Council in Ghana, in September. This is to continue the DfID-funded “Local Economic Development” project which has been progressing so well over this last year. It just goes to show how much can be achieved with keen volunteers and a small financial resource. Thank you everyone, you are a great team.

The Adentan Women’s Business Group and Angela Fitch of our local Federation of Small Businesses during our visit in October 2010
The Adentan Women’s Business Group and Angela Fitch of our local Federation of Small Businesses during our visit in October 2010

Friday 29th: “Half a Sixpence” is a musical based on the novel “Kipps” by H G Wells. The Worcester Operatic & Dramatic Society Youth Section (WODYS) put on a production this evening to which Jane and I were invited. It was brilliant! To see the skills of these young people was a delight. Congratulations to David Humphries (Director and Producer) and the whole WODYS’ team. Yet another example of what Worcester has to contribute to our local culture.

Saturday 30th: The President, Rotarian Anne Pooley, of the Rotary Club of Worcester (of which the Mayor becomes a member for his / her year)  held a lunch at her home in Great Witley. A very relaxed and pleasant occasion on a lovely sunny day in our glorious Worcestershire countryside.

The City of Worcester Twinning Association held its annual Cheese and Wine Party this evening courtesy of Mrs. Nicolette Neville-Lee. “Thank you” Nicolette. It is important for members to get together to chat informally about our common interests of “twinning” with towns in Europe and the USA.

Sunday 31st: The Annual Civic Service for the town of Ledbury and its Mayor, Cllr. Allen Conway, took place this afternoon. The procession to St. Michael’s & All Angels Church was led by the Town Crier along the narrow cobbled Church Lane. The Service included readings from John Masefield’s poetic works. Masefield (1 June 1878 – 12 May 1967) was born in Ledbury and became Poet Laureat of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death. The Reverend Canon John Atkinson gave the address on the subject of “Nothing” in other words on what some people just do not have. Masefield’s “Wonderings” poem is rather apt:

“I never crossed the town without the sight

Of withered children suffering from the blight …

And starving groups in rags, with boots unsoled,

Blear eyed, and singing ballads in the cold”

My, how things have changed!

Mayor’s Week, 18 – 24 July 2011

Mayor’s Week, 18 – 24 July 2011

Monday 18th: I think we should do more for Armed Forces Day next year. So with that in mind I met Lt. Colonel Gerry Taggart, Royal Engineers (Retired), in the parlour to discuss possible activities. We plan to meet again.

Tim Clark, of the “Worcester Standard” came for our routine chat about recent mayoral activities and what may be forthcoming.

Headway Worcester Trust Ltd. “provides the only specialist community services in South Worcestershire for people suffering from acquired brain injury, traumatic brain injury and related physical and mental disabilities”. This is a vital service and Jane and I were pleased to attend the AGM chaired by the President David Birtwhistle. It was also an education to see the art work and carpentry which is of immense value to those whom “Headway” supports.

Tuesday 19th: Giving a presentation to a group whose first language is not English is not always easy. You need to think clearly using short uncomplicated sentences and to speak more slowly than usual. That is not being condescending but rather putting yourself in the listeners’ shoes. This was essential when I gave a tour of the Guildhall to two groups of French students (aged 14 – 16 years) here on a language education course.

If the voluntary sector were to disappear the community would become inward looking and selfish and the economic consequences for the nation would be serious indeed. The Worcester Volunteer Centre, directed by the Chief Officer, Sally Ellison, is a vital organisation for the City. Jane and I were grateful to be invited to the AGM. Did you know that 73% of employers would employ a candidate with volunteer experience over one without? Worth thinking about!!

Wednesday 20th: Tudor Grange Academy Worcester is on a journey: and what achievements it has attained over these last two years. The KS3 Awards Evening, at which Jane and I were present, was a demonstration of how far it has come. Well done to all the students and the staff.

Thursday 21st: A day of tours of the parlour and Guildhall. This morning I met Joel and Annick Dulphy. Joel is Deputy Mayor of St. George du Bois, Charente-Maritime (near La Rochelle), France. This afternoon 32 Italian students (aged 14 – 17 years) came who are here on an International Study Programme.

Friday 22nd: The annual Inaugural Mayor’s Banquet took place this evening. It was a splendid occasion. The Assembly Room at the Guildhall looked wonderful.

Mayor and Mayoress with Deputy Mayor and Mayoress
Me with Mayoress Jane Tibbutt, Sword Bearer Frank, Deputy Mayoress Jill Berry, Deputy mayor Roger Berry

The flower arrangers created the African theme I had requested: this included the beautiful Gloriosa Lily (sometimes also known as the Flame or Fire Lily) which grow wild in East Africa and the Proteas so common in South Africa.

Cllr. Roger Berry, my long standing friend Professor William Littler (Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Birmingham) and Chris Jaeger of “Worcester Live” spoke well and Cllr. Sue Askin proposed the Loyal Toast. Theo Theobald, our first Worcestershire Poet Laureate, recited his “Worcestershire Sauce” poem that pointed out its aphrodisiac, cure-all and stain removing properties! The whole evening really did enable us to celebrate the great things about Worcester City and especially what its citizens have done for medical care over hundreds of years. This is part of what I said in my speech:

“Worcester was one of the first cities to establish a County Hospital in 1746 by Bishop Maddox.The building is still there in Silver Street and I hope that it will be restored and incorporated into the Lowesmoor development.”

“A new hospital was designed by Anthony Keck in 1767 and the new Worcester Royal Infirmary was completed a few years later on a large artichoke field near the river. We, of course, now have another brand new hospital. I wonder if that too will still be standing in 200 years!!

“Several doctors and surgeons have been Mayors of this City: Christopher Hebb, William Moore-Ede, and Fred Spalding are just three.  Thomas Carden (died in 1836) was also Mayor: his grandson, Henry Carden, invented the “Carden skin flap” for surgical amputation stumps. A great advance in those days before antibiotics.

“The record is endless for which Worcester can take credit. Dr. William Strange, Medical Officer of Health in the 1850’s, did pioneering work to prevent infections among children. Dr. Tony Vickers advanced the techniques of special lung Xrays in the late 1940’s. Dr. Patrick Kidd collaborated with the world famous haematologist, Dr. Rosemary Biggs, on blood tests in clotting disorders. Mr. “Hamish” Chalmers (in the 1960’s) worked on the vacuum extractor: a novel technique for assisting babies into the world. Dr. Martin Skirrow, who is here tonight, did vital research on the culture of Campylobacter being a very common cause of infective bacterial enteritis. Mr. Paul Smart and I worked on Clinical Audit methods, Worcester Royal Infirmary being one of the first hospitals to do this. Mr. John Black, a great friend and recent Worcester surgeon, was among the first to embrace the techniques of keyhole surgery. He is the most recent past President of the Royal College of Surgeons and sends his apologies for not being here tonight.

“Worcester has been majorly involved with clinical trial research, organised through the University of Oxford, into the use of “clot busting” / thrombolytic therapy and aspirin for acute heart attacks. The reduction in mortality was significant. I remember going to a conference in Atlanta when the results were presented and the thrill at such a major breakthrough.”

A big “Thank You” to Susan O’Kane, my PA, for meticulous organisation, to Plyvine, the caterers for an excellent meal, to Frank our Sword Bearer, the Mace Bearers and all Guildhall staff for making this banquet such a memorable occasion.

Mace and Sword Bearers


Mayor’s Week , 11 – 17 July 2011

Mayor’s Week , 11 – 17 July 2011

Monday 11th: Finding time to get to do the “weekly” grocery shop can be difficult: went first thing today. The cupboard was getting bare.

As will now be apparent much of the Mayor’s time is taken up with conducting tours of the Guildhall. This building is an amazing asset in our City so I am always happy to show anyone around. Today thirty Italian and two Spanish students arrived. They were on a Cultural and Language programme and were clearly enthralled by Worcester.

Marc Bayliss and Alan Stuttard are representing the Worcester City Team on a special networking conference in Accra (Ghana) beginning next Tuesday (19th). This is under the auspices of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (funded by the DfID) and an important part of the Local Economic Development Programme we are running with the Adentan Municipal Assembly in Ghana. We met for a planning briefing to ensure our input is as effective as possible.

The Worcester Twinning Association met this evening in the Guildhall. The members are a lively group but we do need more to join: check online at www.worcester-international-link.org.uk

Tuesday 12th: Members of the Worcester Tourism Association, Jane and I gathered in the parlour at 2pm and then walked down to the river. We called into Brown’s Restaurant and met Richard Everton who showed us the changes that he had undertaken. It seems that the riverside works really have made a difference to business. The PediTour owner, Marcus Sparrow, demonstrated his Pedi-Cab which should be a great attraction in this lovely weather. A stroll along the riverbank showed the almost complete works on the east side. This is a great improvement on what was there before: if you don’t belief me have a look at the “before and after” photographic records. We ended with “Tea” at the Diglis Hotel which is also now benefiting from the path improvements.

Wednesday 13th: No official mayoral engagements today. Jane and I decided to go to Hay-on-Wye, the little town renowned for its bookshops. We had a specific reason for going and that was to find copies of books written by Mrs. Henry Wood. She wrote about thirty novels at the turn of the 19th Century and they were printed in their millions: “East Lynne”, perhaps the best known, had 760,000 copies printed. I suspect few people know that Mrs. Henry Wood was a Worcester authoress: her portrait is in the Guildhall at the entrance to the Council Chamber. I have just finished reading “Dean Hollow” which is a fascinating story centred on a village (Hurst Leet) near Worcester…I do recommend her writings. We found several copies of her other novels in Hay-on-Wye for about £5 each.

Thursday 14th: Much of the morning was taken up reading the “Planning Committee” papers in preparation for the meeting that began at 1.30pm. and did not finish until 6.30pm. Even the Mayor has non-mayoral duties!!

The Swan Theatre is a central part of Worcester’s culture and funds are always needed. Jane and I attended the “Promises Auction” held at the Theatre. An amusing evening provided by Charles Robinson (from Griffiths & Charles) the auctioneer. There were 79 lots from a bicycle that someone had left behind to “Tea and cakes in the parlour and a tour of the Guildhall” given by the Mayor of Worcester…Oh, that’s me!! Maximum bid for this was £65!!!

Friday 15th: Learning about our history is so important: we are because of what we were! Roger Fairman and Brian Bullock came to see me today to discuss their future programme including “Living History Worcester VIII”. For more information visit the website: www.thebattleofworcestersociety.org.uk

The Elgar Chorale, directed by Donald Hunt, contributes a great deal to music for our City. The “A Time of Remembrance” (for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal) and Christmas Concert (for the Mayor’s charities) were resounding successes last year. Donald and I discussed plans for this year.

Chinese visitors love Worcester. Twenty four students from Yangzhou High School, Jiangsu Province, People’s Republic of China, came for a visit to the parlour and Guildhall. They were thrilled with what they saw. Their knowledge of the English language was remarkably good.

The day was completed by Jane and I attending the Tudor Grange Academy to see “Act 1’s” first annual Showcase: a great variety of performing art by the Sixth Formers. A roller-coaster of entertainment that stirred all sorts of emotions from Shakespeare to “Find Me” written by Olwyn Wymark in 1977. “Find Me” is founded on a story of Verity, a young woman, who had the multiple personality syndrome. It explored many issues and attitudes around mental health. Well done to Jenna Butler (Curriculum Leader in Performing Arts) and all her students.

Saturday 16th: The Battle of Worcester in 1651 lead to a parliamentary system we enjoy in the United Kingdom and elsewhere throughout the world. So Worcester truly is the birthplace of our current democracy. Jane and I joined a “Battle of Worcester Historic Walk” beginning at the Guildhall and thence to the Cornmarket (the site of public executions), St. Helen’s Church in the High Street, the Cathedral (used as a stable during the Civil War) and ending on Fort Royal and the Commandery: did you know that the Commandery has been there in some form for a thousand years originally established by St. Wulstan as a “hospital”? These walks are part of the “Worcester: City of Liberty” project financed by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Me having a go on the Stepper (right is Emma Campolucci)

Emma Campolucci, Joint Chairperson of the Relay for Life, Worcester, welcomed Jane and me to a promotional event in The Shambles to advertise the Cancer Research UK Relay for Life. This involved using a treadmill emphasising the importance of exercise in general health and possibly for the prevention of some cancers. The Relay will be held at the Nunnery Wood Sports Complex from noon on Saturday 10th September until noon on Sunday 11th September. Get a group of family and friends together and join in!! More information can be found by visiting www.cancerresearchu?k.org/relay/venues/worcest?er

A Summer Concert in the Cathedral by the Alcester Male Voice Choir was outstanding. Special guest performers were the soprano Caroline Causier, the organist Chris Alsop and the outstanding 15 year old violinist Dayna Townsend. The concert was in aid of Parkinson’s UK Worcester & District Branch. Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating condition and although much can be done to alleviate symptoms we still have no cure.

Sunday 17th: No civic engagements today. We are now two days short of our first nine weeks in this mayoral year. It really has been busy: 101 engagements.

A Squadron Royal Mercian & Lancastrian Yeomanry – Tri County Triathlon Challenge – Saturday 30th July 2011: This event focuses on the fitness, teamwork and endurance abilities of the Territorial Army Soldiers and at the same time will be raising funds for the Army Benevolent Fund (“The Soldiers’ Charity”).  It is planned for the soldiers to ride, row and run the 90 miles between the three county towns of Stafford, Worcester and Warwick. The team should arrive in Worcester at the City Library on Foregate Street at about 3.30pm on 30th July. Shortly after that they will depart for Warwick. Come and cheer them on!!

Mayor’s Week, 4 – 10 July

Mayor’s Week, 4 – 10 July

Monday 4th: Theo Theobald was the winner of the Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition held in the Cathedral on 17th June at the opening of the Literary Festival. He, the runner up Fergus McGonigal and Lisa Ventura, came for a chat in the parlour this morning. They are such fun characters. I am sure we shall be hearing more of them over this next year.

Jane and I were invited to the annual dinner of the Rotary Club of Worcester in the Worcestershire County Cricket Club. This was at the time of the President’s handover. It has become customary for the Mayor to be made an honorary member of the Club so I was inducted this evening. This was a particular pleasure for me having been sponsored on many occasions by the Rotary Doctor Bank of Great Britain and Ireland for my working visits to Uganda and Rwanda.

Tuesday 5th: Twenty four students (aged 13 – 14 years old) from Stuttgart (Germany) Grammar School arrived for a tour of the Guildhall. They came with The Principia School of Language and since 2008 have close links with Christopher Whitehead Language College. They were courteous, attentive and interested: a real pleasure to entertain.

Peter Rogers brought two visitors (Benedicte and Barry Reynold) from our twin town Vernon (France) for a chat in the parlour. I am always so pleased to welcome friends from our twinned towns.

The Olympic Torch comes to the UK on 18th May 2012 to begin a 70 days’ journey (“Olympic Torch Relay”). Worcester is one of only five cities to be selected in the West Midlands to host a Community Celebration event. The torch will arrive in Worcester on 24th May 2012. If you would like to nominate someone, who has made a difference in the community, to carry the torch you can do so online at www.lloydstsb.com/carrytheflame until 12th. September 2011. Jane and I attended a touring mobile exhibition in the Cornmarket and had our photographs taken with the prototype London 2012 Olympic Torch.

Mayor and Mayoress of Worcester with the Olympic Torch
Jane and I holding the London 2012 Olympic Torch

We do not normally have two Full Council meetings a week apart. The one this evening was an extra for the special consideration of the paper on the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP). As Mayor, I was in the chair. The debate was wide ranging the message being that this is a consultation document. At the beginning a member of the public spoke in the “Public Participation” slot. Fifteen councillors spoke each making significant contributions. It was overwhelmingly agreed that the SWDP should be accepted and go out for consultation in September.

Wednesday 6th: The City Council quite often has students from local schools for a “Work Experience Programme”. I contributed to such a programme today for a student from the Royal Grammar School. My role was to tell him about and demonstrate the job of the Mayor.

The Annual University of Worcester Garden Party took place on the St. John’s campus this evening. These occasions are always enjoyable with the added opportunity to meet old and new friends and colleagues from across the county. I am proud of our successful University, the advantages it brings to Worcester and what it contributes to the wider world.

Thursday 7th: Nine American students (aged 16 – 18 years) came to the parlour this morning for a tour of the Guildhall. They were from all parts of the USA and were visiting several towns in England. During their stay they are making a film on “British youth culture” under a title of “Experiment in International Living”. They were a real pleasure to show around and to be interviewed on film by them.

St. Mary’s Girls’ Preparatory School held its “Day of Celebration” today. It was clear that the achievements of the girls were outstanding with cups and certificates being presented. We were entertained during three interludes by a demonstration of music: yet more examples of Worcester’s musical contribution.

Lyppard Grange Primary School has amazing talent among its children. Their performance of “Archibald’s War” was fantastic! It portrayed the Second World War, the evacuation of London’s children to the relative safety in the countryside and the loss of a little girl’s teddy bear, Archibald, on the evacuation train. Eventually they were reunited. The representation of the events was a true reminder to the few of us who remember the latter years of that conflict. My mother had evacuees at our home in Sussex.

Friday 8th: “King’s Day”: a day of celebration by The King’s School, Worcester, with displays, exhibitions and events. At mid day we enjoyed a Service of Thanksgiving and Commemoration in the Cathedral.

Saturday 9th: The Valedictory Evensong for the 43rd Wessex Association was held in the Cathedral Church of St. Peter in Exeter this afternoon. This was preceded by a reception in Exeter’s Guildhall given by the Lord Mayor. The Worcestershire Regiment, which served with the 43rd Wessex Division in the First and Second World Wars, had been invited to this event and it was a privilege for Jane and me to join them. Time has moved on and very few of the Old Comrades remain so the recognition for the 43rd’s will now be invested in the 43rd Wessex Heritage Trust. After the service there was a “Sound Retreat” outside the Great West Door of the Cathedral. A wonderful day we would not have missed for anything.

Cathedral Church of St. Peter in Exeter
Cathedral Church of St. Peter in Exeter

Sunday 10th: Jane and I attended the Annual Luncheon of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Worcestershire in the Chapter House of the Cathedral followed by a Service in the Cathedral. It was a most elegant and enjoyable occasion.

A quick dash home to change into something a little less formal and then on to Crown East Woods for a “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” organised by the 10th Worcester Scouts and their Leader Nigel Watkinson. Nigel and two Explorer Scouts are organising an expedition to Botswana in July next year. They will be helping to construct a building as a base for conservation and working with local scouts. This is a most important contribution within the scouting movement and to international cooperation. They need help with raising the funds for this expedition so if anyone would like to help do contact Nigel (33, Barry Street, Worcester or telephone 078 2653 8112).

photograph taken in Crown East Woods