Last week I reported that I would be going to Parma in Italy to support the Worcester Warriors, and hopefully I would meet the Mayor Federico Pizzarotti. On Saturday morning I met him in the town hall where I was able to view their council chamber and see the mayor’s office. Their council chamber is set up very similarly to the one in our Guildhall, and they even use the same microphone system as us.
Whereas I am principally a ceremonial mayor with a term of office of just a single year, the Mayor of Parma is directly elected by the citizens of the city on a five-yearly basis. We exchanged gifts, and I was given a beautiful book on the city of Parma which I have left in the Mayor’s Parlour in the Guildhall for visitors to look at.
After my visit to the Parma town hall, I attended the rugby match, as the only travelling Warriors supporter. Along with the girlfriend of Sione Vailanu, the Warriors number 8, we were the only people cheering them on to their 36-26 victory over Zebre. Hopefully the win will take Worcester into the next round, and the easing of Covid travel restrictions will mean there will be a few more of us cheering them on.
This Thursday was Holocaust Memorial Day, and a Civic Commemoration was held at the Guildhall. The event was introduced by the Deputy Lieutenant Mrs Patricia Bradbury MBE JP DL, followed by a moving speech from Dr Mindu Hornick MBE. She is a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and has devoted her life to educating all of us about the horrors of the Nazi holocaust.
A musical contribution was made by three talented students from Worcester RGS, who performed part of the score from the film Schindler’s List. This was followed by contributions from students from all the Worcester high schools. Students from the University of Worcester also read out commitments that pledged our intention to tackle the issues that have led to geocide.
Last Sunday the Mayoress and I were guests of The High Sheriff of Worcestershire, Mr Richard Amphlett, at the annual Shrievalty Service in Worcester Cathedral. The service is attended by Her Majesty’s Judges, with the Lord Lieutenant Lt Col Patrick Holcroft LVO OBE CStJ and other visiting High Sheriffs also present.
The office of High Sheriff has existed for over a thousand years and is the oldest continuous secular office under the crown. Richard Amphlett is one of the 55 high sheriffs serving the counties of England and Wales on an annual basis. The High Sheriff is the Sovereign’s representative in the county for matters relating to the judiciary and the maintenance of law and order.
This weekend I am in Parma as a supporter of our Premiership rugby club to support the Worcester Warriors as they take on Zebre. As I said in my dairy last week, overseas travel is now possible, and I am hoping to present a gift to the Mayor of Parma, Federico Pizzarotti. It is highly unlikely Worcester can progress further in the European Challenge Cup, but hopefully they can avenge the defeat they suffered on my previous visit to Parma.
Finally, I have some sad news. Monty, our handsome long-haired miniature dachshund dog, sadly passed away suddenly last Tuesday. He developed two large tumours in his abdomen and couldn’t be saved.
Monty accompanied the Mayoress and I on several engagements and was popular with children and adults alike. His picture was in the Worcester News on Monday when we planted the trees in Perdiswell. Losing a loved pet is very distressing and I sympathise with anyone who has lost a beloved animal companion.
With the festive season now behind us it was a return to mayoral duties this week. On Tuesday the Mayoress and I attended the opening of the Community Café at the Lyppard Hub. I am very familiar with the Hub, the Community Centre that serves Warndon Villages, as I am one of its trustees and I also represent the area on the City Council. We also hold our monthly Parish Council meetings at the Hub and I am pleased to say that the Hub’s manager, Lauren Cartwright, and her staff have done a great job delivering this Community Café project.
On Wednesday I attended the Executive Committee meeting of the Worcester Twinning Association, chaired by my mayoral predecessor Councillor Jo Hodges. The meeting was held remotely on Zoom, but hopefully the forthcoming annual general meeting can be held in person. Twinning is about meeting people from other countries. Worcester’s twin towns and cities are based in France, Germany, Lithuania, and the USA, and it was encouraging to hear suggestions for future visits after the past two difficult years.
Going abroad has not been easy, and last week the Mayoress and I took our first overseas break since the pandemic began to Madeira. Vaccinations, cheaper Covid testing, and simpler procedures are making foreign travel once again possible.
My final engagement of the week was at Perdiswell for the Charter 400 tree planting event. Volunteers from the Multi-Faith Group, the Polish Community and others helped to plant 400 trees of various species, each one to represent a year that Worcester’s Charter has been in operation. The Mayoress and I joined in the tree planting, alongside two officers from the local policing team, who happened to be on the beat.
It was a fantastic effort, that will also contribute to The Queen’s Green Canopy, one of the initiatives to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and in which Worcester is one of the Champion Cities.
By Councillor Adrian Gregson, Deputy Mayor of Worcester
Firstly let me wish you all a Happy New Year from the City Mayoralty! I hope you have had a good festive season and that the coming year for you is happy and peaceful.
The last few weeks have been a time when we think about our families, and for those of us with members across the country it is a great time to be able to meet up – usually. I guess, like me, many of you have had to do a lot of that by phone, or electronically. Hopefully this year has seen a more enlightened view to visits in care homes and hospitals however, which is obviously some sign of improved times ahead. And when we have celebrated together, it has been safe to do so.
Family gatherings also bring to mind memories of loved ones we have lost, and for the Civic Office this last year has been especially poignant, losing Cliff Lord, Jeff Carpenter and now also Aubrey Tarbuck. Their civic and community legacies are remembered along with the memories of their families and friends. Similarly, there was one example of resonance in my own ward of Rainbow Hill, when I recently attended the funeral of Biddy Furlong. Biddy was a stalwart of the local community and it is almost strange to write that I remember attending her 100th Birthday Party a few years ago!
I am sure many of you will have experienced a similar loss, or poignant reminders.
I admit to not being a great fan of the actual New Year ‘celebration’, as colleagues will testify, but there is much to look forward to in this Jubilee year, ranging from the Elgar Festival to the Commonwealth Games! If we can see moral and social responsibility along with consistent guidelines and behaviour, then I genuinely hope that 2022 means things are going to get better. ,