Mayor’s Week: July 24 – July 30

Mayor’s Week: July 24 – July 30

I did my first public visit tour of the Guildhall this week. Fire buckets, parlour, cells, George III, Queen Anne. A compact but interested group, though I think I may need more practice.

What I don’t tend to need practice in is enjoying myself, which is exactly what happened on Friday night. The Queens’s Commonwealth baton was in town as you know and after welcoming it to the city on the Guildhall steps, I de-robed and made it down to Castle Street where it finished up at the Old Infirmary. On its way it passed hundreds of well-wishers, on land and water, across the racecourse and back to the Arches. It was great to see people supporting the Games, and well done to all the baton bearers, representatives of our communities.

I had my picture with mascot Perry, not to mention lots of kids and their parents! And then a great evening of non-stop entertainment along the Arches. This is what we hoped the Arches would become – lively, friendly, safe and welcoming. Music, beer and food – a real fiesta! Bands marched up and down the length of the footway until dark. Let’s do it every month!! (And thanks for the loan of the shirt John). The Games are local – did you spot Worcester’s Edward Elgar puppet in the Opening Ceremony?

An early start on Saturday took us across the Malverns to the Three Choirs Festival. A much more stately affair, the three mayors procession with Gloucester and Hereford, and a line of other town mayors, judges, and dignitaries. We were led by a piper who sparked up ‘Scotland the Brave’ when we passed the Edinburgh Woollen Mill! The music at a Three Choirs concert is always exceptional and this opening service was impressive. I admit though, after all those mad and random photos on Friday night my nose was put out of joint in Hereford. The crowds only seemed interested in our Swordbearer’s ostrich feathers – beautiful plumage!

 

Mayor’s Week: July 17 – 23

Mayor’s Week: July 17 – 23

This week is bookended by Blue Plaque moments. The British Medical Association was founded in Worcester by Charles Hastings, so says the plaque in Foregate Street. Yet his boss, Dr Jonas Malden, must surely have been involved. Despite being THE senior physician here for 43 years from 1818, there is nothing in the history books to say so. Nonetheless his family have donated a portrait of their ancestor which is now to hang in the Board Room of the old Infirmary – the University City Campus – and it was a privilege to be invited to the ceremony.

I was able to open the Heritage Day last week, held at The Hive as part of its 10th anniversary celebrations. Organisations from across the county showed just what rich culture there is of history, research, interest and evidence. It was great to see so many different but related groups bringing that heritage to life on a day organised by my own Archive and Archaeology Service.

Worcester Community Action is a voluntary organisation itself which is principally designed to broker volunteer opportunities for other organisations. I met with them this week to understand what they do and how statutory bodies like the city council can help them. As I have written before, the volunteer is a key cornerstone to our local community services who deserves our support and engagement.

And then on Friday, a real Blue Plaque unveiling to the medieval Jewish community of the city. A little known area of our city’s heritage, reported in this paper a few days ago. I first heard of the proposal some years back and it is great to see it has finally come to fruition. The Jewish community played a hugely important part in the medieval communities across the country before they were persecuted and kicked out in 1290. There is a document in the Archives relating to the taxation of Jews in Worcester by Henry III but little else, so hopefully this will spur more research and understanding.

 

 

Mayor’s Week: 3 -9 July 2022

Mayor’s Week: 3 -9 July 2022

There is so much talent amongst the city’s young people but many of us just don’t get the chance to see it. I was part of a judging panel at Hollymount Primary School of kids reciting poems (from memory!) and reading a creative writing piece about the monarchy. This competition, organised by the Rotary club, was good last year but virtual. It was even better in person with the whole school sat in thrall to their peers.

I was delighted to see so much imagination and enthusiasm for the Worcester Carnival floats, undampened by the weather. The work and support given to these young people by parents, school staff and volunteer group leaders always fills me with admiration.

I was pleased, along with Cllr Riaz, to represent the city at the well-attended Memorial Service for Professor Michael Clarke. He may have been completely unknown to many people but he was very influential across a wide range of fronts not just in Worcester, but nationally – the Three Choirs festival, Birmingham Ballet, Local Government Training Institute are just a few amongst many others.

The tenth birthday celebration event for The Hive turned into a busman’s honeymoon for me, talking about archives with the mayoral chain on! In fact it had been while I was on archives duty that I had most the direct involvement with Michael Clarke in relation to the Elgar Archives, when he was at The Firs.

On Sunday I met fundraiser Klint Varndall, halfway through a marathon walk from Upton and back to raise money to help two children with Spinal Muscular Atrophy to visit Disneyland Paris

Then on Tuesday I chaired my first proper Council meeting, ever wondering if the ceremonial sword behind my head was once owned by Damocles.

The big ‘but’ in this week’s list is that I have tested positive for Covid, so to everyone who was at the events mentioned above, sorry if you got it from me. It has been a bit of a wake-up call that maybe things have got a bit lax, as cases are on the rise again. Masks, hand-washing, open air are again the order of the day in our house.

And huge apologies to those who I had hoped to meet this coming weekend, at the Commandery’s open air theatre, the Lord of the Rings exhibition in the Museum, and the Srebrenica memorial event on Monday, amongst others.

Mayor’s Week: June 26 – July 2

Mayor’s Week: June 26 – July 2

This week I was taken back to my childhood. The Regimental Parade, complete with ram, marked not only the Freedom of the City but also the end of 2 Mercian Regiment, now being amalgamated with the First Battalion. It was odd to meet so many soldiers with Lancashire regimental cap badges and to hear that the Mercians are currently stationed at Weeton Barracks, round the corner from where I went to school, was a surprise.

Then on Tuesday we attended a professional performance by final year pupils at RGS The Grange of what I can only describe as a fun musical ride through any London-based orphan story you care to mention. One bit caught my attention, a take on Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, which I had been in many years ago. By the way, I only got the two Dickens joke afterwards!

The pandemic robbed us of much of course, but Perrywood school did its best to make up for a few missing years with an extensive summer fete. In typical form, the rain lashed down on occasion, but spirits appeared undimmed, and there was always the human fruit machine to keep you entertained. Trust me, you had to be there!

I see one of the mayor’s main roles as welcoming new people and organisations to Worcester. One instance this week was to visit the UK distribution centre for Wellell, a global medical supplies group at the cutting edge of the caring side of the health business. Another was the Newmedica eye clinic, a partnership with NHS and Specsavers, relieving queues for cataracts operations on the NHS.

We must thank the Clothiers Guild of Worcester for their hospitality and entertainment. Celebrating 500 years as a trade guild, they represent the once thriving cloth industry of the city. A great tradition that founded churches, charities and schools; that established the corporation that is now the council, and is still involved in charitable ventures in health and education.

So far, my ‘openings’ have been somewhat traditional, but I cut the ribbon to Will and Julia Scott’s walled garden with a pair of shears! I wonder what they will let me cut next?