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Author: Jabba Riaz

Mayor’s Week: 3 – 10 May 2019

Mayor’s Week: 3 – 10 May 2019

A year to remember

We are moving closer to Tuesday’s Annual Council meeting, when my mayoral year will end.  Who would have thought a year could pass so quickly?  Looking back it’s been a spectacular twelve months, full of surprises, challenges and unforgettable moments.

It began with a brilliant summer last year, with the colourful Giraffes and the Worcester Festival getting things off to a flying start.  Other highs were the awarding of the Freedom of the City to Basil D’Oliveira, public recognition for Frank Southam, a loyal Sword bearer and servant of the City for many years; a great Worcester Show and Victorian Fayre; Worcestershire winning the T20 cricket final, and judging children’s designs for the Mayor’s new Christmas card.

 

Being a relatively young whippersnapper to the office of Mayor brought its own expectations and pressures. I had to not only respect and uphold the traditions of office but also bring a fresh approach to it, appealing to a wider audience.

I went in with the intention of putting my heart and soul into the role and with three goals in mind:  to uphold and spread the message of Peace and goodwill that this city is renowned for; to open the Mayoralty up to a younger audience and to reach out to all our diverse communities and bring them together.

My message of Love not Hate has especially resounded in the current climate of hostility; there has been a rise in Hate Crime in South Worcestershire.  However, the EDL march through Worcester last summer was confronted by a response of solidarity and dancing.

Thousands turned out for the Vigil of student Tom Jones, and thousands turned up to see if they were a match for young boy Oscar Saxelby-Lee, who has a rare form of Leukaemia.  These are strong indications that the Love Not Hate message is getting through. My Mayor’s Consort scheme which gave young adults with a disability or known condition the chance to accompany me for a day was not only a treat to those participating, but an eye opener for me, stepping into their shoes for a day to see some of the difficulties they face.

I’d also like to thank my Community Ambassadors Malik Fayyaz and Tom Piotrwoski who have done a wonderful job helping to organise events which brought peoples of all faiths and none together.

I always say that Worcester is one of the best cities in terms of safety, quality of life, happiness and politeness.  I also believe we are one of the most generous in terms of volunteering and charity. During this year we have managed to raise in the region of £30,000 for my three fantastic nominated charities.  I could not have done it without your generosity and kindness.

Of course it’s also been a difficult year with personal circumstances at home and the fact that I have had to work on top of my Civic responsibilities.  The support I have received from family, friends, colleagues and hundreds of residents has kept me going through the toughest of periods.

I hope that I have served this City and its residents well and I seek your pardon if I have inadvertently upset anyone or didn’t perform to expectations!  But I hope you’ll agree that I wore my heart on my sleeve while in office; thank you for the opportunity to be your humble servant, the Mayor of Worcester.

 

Mayor’s Week: 20 – 26 April 2019

Mayor’s Week: 20 – 26 April 2019

I donned my Panama hat and jacket for the Worcestershire County Cricket Club Chairman’s lunch, to hear about the next phase in the re-shape at New Road. The new Chairman Fanos Hira spoke with authority and clarity regarding the changes that are planned in the next phase of transformation. He was ably backed by an experienced board room and New Club president Cecil Duckworth CBE, who gave full backing to CEO Matt Rawnsley’s new One Club vision. Change is always difficult and sometimes painful, but it was needed at Worcestershire and I feel confident that the Club are in good hands. I wish them every success.

I was invited to lead Worcester City FC out at the Allpay Park stadium by the Mayor of Hereford Cllr Sue Boulter against her local team Westfields in aid of her chosen charities.  I enjoyed a match that Worcester City dominated for large periods, the game ended in a 1-1 draw & I took the opportunity to talk with fans of the club about their hopes and concerns.  The irony was not lost on me that I was leading City out in exile. I firmly back the Bring City Home campaign and hope that a solution can be found as soon as possible.

An invite from Michael Underwood, my old boxing coach, for a visit and training session at Worcester Amateur Boxing Club transpired provided an entertaining evening, where I was brutally put through the paces of a boxer’s regime. All those memories came flooding back of the time I spent as a teenager sweating it out in his gym. I was able to keep up for the most part, but my pad work lacked sting and my legs felt like tree trunks. Feeling brave I stepped into the ring with England National Youth Champion Owen Cooper for a bout. I was felled along with my ego, with a clean upper cut within 30 seconds. Thank you, Michael, for the great work you and the club do in keeping the kids off the streets, teaching them discipline and respect and providing a place for them to belong.

I end with a prayer for the victims and families of the terror that emerged in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. I stand united with many others in condemnation of the attacks and in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and Christians across the globe.  There are forces at work in the world that seek to divide communities, nations, races and religions and sow discord and the seed of hate amongst Humankind. We must use every opportunity we have to unite and grow stronger together and show that, despite the doom and gloom, love and good will defeat the hate and evil.

Mayor’s Week: 13 – 19 April 2019

Mayor’s Week: 13 – 19 April 2019

Another action-packed week that included a wide variety of events.  It began with the Worcester Concert Brass performing at the Guildhall along with the Phoenix Singers, in aid of the mayoral charities.  The audience was thoroughly entertained; I thank all those who performed and attended.

The annual Medical Lecture, which was originally conceived by former Mayor Dr David Tibbutt, aims to recognise, preserve and celebrate the history of medicine and the founding of the British Medical Association in the Faithful City.

We were honoured to be addressed by Dr Steven Spencer, an expert in the field of Nephrology, who gave a lecture on the History of Dialysis in the UK. The talk was both informative and interactive, and delivered in layman’s English. As you know it is a subject close to my heart, as my daughter has been diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome and we hope that advances in medicine will lead to more dignified treatments and permanent cures being available to patients.  Thank you to Dr Spencer and all our doctors and NHS staff.

On Saturday shoppers and tourists in the city were lucky enough to be entertained by the Worcester Ukulele club who performed brilliantly.  They were raising money for Parkinson’s UK, a cause which was close to them as one of the lead organisers of the band had tragically suffered the loss of her husband to the disease. I made a guest appearance and enthusiastically performed to Johnny B. Goode, Blue Suede Shoes and the Jungle Book. The online video has now kind of gone viral! Over a £1,000 was raised on the day; thank you for your generous donations!

Wuccies In Crowngate

What an amazing fundraiser today for the Worcester & District Branch of Parkinson's UK, even the Mayor, Jabba Riaz, couldn't resist getting in on the act…….

Gepostet von Worcester Ukulele Club am Samstag, 13. April 2019

 

A more sombre afternoon beckoned when I joined the Worcestershire Yeomanry and the Queens very own Worcestershire Hussars for the humbling Qatia Day service at St Georges Chapel in the Cathedral. A solemn and stark reminder of the brutalities of war and that it’s not all Hollywood glamour, victory and success.  It was a moving tribute to all the brave soldiers who lost their lives or suffered the trauma of war.

I joined Kevin Powell of Worcestershire Ambassadors at New Road on Monday to the launch of ‘Worcestershire Street Sixes’ – a street cricket competition which raises money to enable people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get a chance to learn new skills and play cricket. The competition’s reigning champion is Worcester City Council and I was part of the winning team!  As they say it’s tough at the top and I am hoping that we win the trophy again for a historic third time! All those aspiring to knock us of our perch – bring it on!  We need as many teams as possible to enter; it’s fun and is open to all regardless of ability, gender or age – a truly inclusive event!

Mayor’s Week: 5 – 11 April 2019

Mayor’s Week: 5 – 11 April 2019

A big thank you to all those who braved the weather to join the St Paul’s Hostel big Sleep Out last week.  The weather turned out for the worst, with torrential rain and the temperature plummeting.  It was a sobering night for all those involved; unfortunately it is a daily occurrence for those who are sleeping rough on the streets of the City.  The money raised should go a long way in helping to get vital supplies – well done all!

The Mayoral Chain which I often wear was originally designed for Alexander Clunes, who twice became Sherriff and Mayor of the city and who donated it for subsequent mayors to wear after his death in 1878.  As Clunes was a railway man, the mayoral Chain of Office was fittingly designed to represent the links between railway carriages.

The connection to the railway was recently recognised by astute business woman Asia Baig, who recently launched the Centenary Lounge on the Cross in Worcester, taking inspiration from the nostalgic golden era of Great Western Railway carriages. Their accurate representation and attention to detail has derived from a labour of Love.  I urge you to pay a visit to marvel at the sheer beauty of the place; may be you’ll also be tempted to try an afternoon tea in the luxurious surroundings!

I’m not a natural musical fan, but I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the WODS production of Oklahoma, which left me in raptures. The standard of acting and singing was far superior to anything one might expect from an amateur production company.  Full credit to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers and staff, who have ensured two cracking performances thus far!

I joined Richard Soper, ex CEO of Worcester Bosch, for the official opening of the new Regency High School extension, where I marvelled over the new facilities with governors and pupils alike. The extension was dedicated to long term Governor John Pearsall, who has dedicated over 30 years of community service on top of running a highly successful engineering consultancy firm.

It is exactly this service by key prominent business people that was talked about at the annual Civic Lecture which I hosted at the Guildhall this week.  Andrew Reekes, a prominent historian and Old Vigornian, talked about the role of Joseph and Neville Chamberlain in the brief renaissance that Birmingham experienced under their great leadership. The determination of prominent people to contribute to society and deal with the social dilemmas and ills of their time is what marks a progressive and compassionate society.  There are many such examples of this in Worcester today; it is local people’s love and determination to give something back which keeps this city going.