Nothing that I’ve done this week – indeed, throughout my entire mayoral year so far – can have made a fraction of the impact of the week’s Big News.

Of course, I’m referring to the floods, and my thoughts are with everyone who’s been affected.  And let’s face it, that means us ALL.

Whether or not it’s down to environment change nobody can know for sure, but one initiative that earned my respect this week was the WASUP (World Against Single Use Plastic) clean-up operation on the canal when the message was forcefully pushed home: that we can no longer expect somebody else to take responsibility for the future of our planet. We must all do our bit.

It’s been an exceptionally busy time, including a meeting with representatives of my four charities to discuss more fund-raising activities; and hosting more than a hundred students from Freiherr-vom-Stein Gymnasium from our twin town of Kleve.

I also witnessed one of the most inspiring presentations I’ve heard in many a long year: an appraisal of the Government’s long-term People Plan for the NHS and integrated health and social care, delivered by Professor David Croisdale-Appleby at the University’s Riverside Building.  Every word struck a chord with me.

The weather once more played its dead hand on an occasion that would otherwise have proved a very welcome highlight: Worcester Re-Enactors re-living various stages in the city’s history at the annual Living History pageant.

Meanwhile, I do so hope that the Reverend Darren Smith’s Love the Arboretum event celebrating all aspects of life in this vibrant quarter of the city, will be become an annual feature.

And so to more mundane things. Monday’s briefing ahead of the full City Council meeting on Tuesday proved a muted affair as the weather and its impact had led to the postponing of much of the agenda to next month, with just the constitutional necessities up for discussion.

As for me, I’m taking a week off, with mayoral duties left in the very capable hands of my deputy, Cllr. Jo Hodges. Bye for now.

Mayor’s Week: 8 – 14 February 2020

Mayor’s Week: 8 – 14 February 2020

My biggest challenge as Mayor?  Striking the balance between duty and home life.  This week, duty won…

It began with a tour of Fort Royal Community Primary School, a venture that set out to provide facilities for 150 children with special needs, has since expanded to 200 and still needs more space.  Some important heads need to be brought together to come up with a workable solution for this amazing establishment now facing special needs of its own.

I then had a most delightful afternoon at High Sheriff Edward Holloway’s Lower Court home at Suckley, for a private view of the works of local artists in aid of the Worcestershire Community Foundation.  It left me saddened that the mayor’s allowance doesn’t stretch to acquiring some of these incredible artworks!

Religious differences – or to be more accurate, similarities – were put aside for Bishop John Inge’s charming ‘At Home’ gathering at The Old Palace on Friday, and being first to arrive meant our chat was more personal and meaningful as a result.

I’ve said it before and it’s worth a repeat – that the sheer musical and dramatic talent of the youngsters of our city knows no bounds, as a sneak preview of WODYS’ up-coming treat ‘Shrek – The Musical’ underlined in breathless style.  Oh… most impressed!

Home life was temporarily restored in a rare day-in on Sunday, thus permitting a welcome recharge of the batteries ahead of another engagement-packed week…

How best to engage more with the city’s Polish and Eastern European communities occupied much of Monday, in the company of Tomas Jareki and Warwick Neale.

The rest of the week’s functions and appointments whizzed by: preparations for my Charity Banquet in May; opening an intensely moving art exhibition at The Hive; a look at a mobile shelter – technically, a gazebo – for the comfort of mourners at the Crematorium; and a re-appraisal of the recent Interfaith Forum Holocaust Memorial Day event were followed by a duty I never tire of: showing excited youngsters, in this case 30 cubs from the 2nd Worcester Scout Group, around the Guildhall and cells.  Whew… quite a week!




Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 February 2020

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 February 2020

I’m fascinated to read that Chicken Tikka Masala is officially England’s favourite dish.  Funny that, as I’m not really into spicy dishes and mine is fish ’n’ chips – which is fortunate as that’s just what was served-up at three official functions in the past week!

One was at Kidderminster Mayor Cllr David Ross’ Charity Quiz Night last Thursday when ‘The Chain Gang’ – Chairman of the County Council Peter Tomlinson, Droitwich mayor William Moy and I – muddled-through to come fifth out of twelve teams.  It also proved much the same story the following night at Chairman of Malvern DC Cllr Dean Clarke’s Charity Beetle Drive at Hallow.

No surprise, then, that Sunday saw me breathless – not as the unhealthy result of culinary piscatorial over-indulgence, but by the sheer power, colour and energy of the Chinese New Year celebrations.  People talk about Worcester’s diversity and inclusivity and this was a perfect example.  Sheer magic, my hat duly taken off to every performer, no-one excluded.

However fish ’n’ chips wasn’t on the menu when I called in to the Anarkali Restaurant, now re-vamped and re-vitalised and given a 4* hygiene rating after a lapse of attention last year.

This was followed by a meeting with Rinku Khan, whose Step by Step Recruitment firm aims to provide a pathway to employment for more Asian people.  Finally, a tour of the newly refurbished Anbrian House in The Tything all highlighted significant improvements.

I’m also liking the sound of a new community engagement group, Make Time for Friendship, headed by Jenny Manchester who called into the Parlour for a chat about future plans on Thursday, while Worcestershire Ambassadors – an organisation of which I was a founder member – will, I don’t doubt, go from strength to strength under its new Chairman Julia Williams.

I was left breathless once again at the Swan Theatre, for Kay’s Theatre Group’s 66th pantomime ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates’.  Although I’d already had a sneak preview some weeks ago, I was still not quite prepared for the utter brilliance of the finished – and very polished – final show.  ‘Amazing’ fails to do it justice.

Mayor’s Week – 26 – 31 January 2020

Mayor’s Week – 26 – 31 January 2020

I’m sure it’s not just me that’s being affected by this dull, depressing January and all its attendant bad news, and as weeks go, this has been something of a roller-coaster – up one minute, down the next.

But at least, it has seen some heartening events and with them, the promise of brighter things to come here in the fairest City in the land!

One such is the Worcester City Run to be held in September.  The ball was set in motion on Friday when athletics legend and chief-mover, Olympian Steve Cram, visited for the launch of the seventh run and call for runners to take part.  ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it!’, as someone more eloquent than me once put it.

Part of the launch had been a drum-beating photoshoot on board a dragon-boat opposite the Cathedral, and drums were also well to the fore at the second event of the day.  This was Bewdley Mayor Cllr John Byng’s Youth Music Showcase, a fundraising event featuring some staggering performances from schools and colleges that made three hours pass by in what felt like minutes. Thoroughly enjoyable entertainment and a good sum raised for his charities, I’m hearing.

Another three hours were pleasurably spent the next day when twenty potential Army Reserve Officers and four directing staff from 214 Battery Royal Artillery dropped into the Parlour as part of the Regiment’s ‘Exercise Cultural Dragon’ – exposure to all aspects of British culture rightly considered a key element in every potential officer’s development.

Continuing the Army theme, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Monday rendered me speechless and drained of all emotions.  90 year-old survivor Mindu Hornick gave a moving account and made a deep impression on the entire Guildhall audience, not a soul left untouched by what they’d heard.  I can think of no greater cause than to keep reminding people, the younger generations particularly, about the dangers arising from the universal disgrace of intolerance – Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism in particular.  In that, the event succeeded admirably.

Next week: more good news about fundraising events for my various charities.