As I write this, the new tier levels have just been announced telling us what we can and can’t do in each region over the next two weeks. Here in Worcestershire, we are in tier two. It is good news however, that for the five days over the Christmas period we can meet with loved ones from two other households to celebrate the festive season. That, together with news of the effective vaccines which should be rolled out soon, are things to be cheerful about. We can look forward to better days in the not too distant future.
I can quite confidently say that the swans at South Quay didn’t care what tier we were in when I went to feed them this week at the launch of this year’s Big Christmas Swan Feed. They are the most beautiful birds, and there is a knack to feeding them to stop the greedy gulls and pigeons stealing their food. You have to make sure their necks are up so they are ready for the food and then throw it carefully into their midst so they get it before the other birds steal it.
I was giving them Ark Wildlife floating swan pellets which are available from several local retailers – but can also be bought more cheaply in 15kg sacks. This festive feeding is being spread over a month. We’d love you to take a photo of yourself feeding the swans and send it via Facebook (The Swan Food Project) or WhatsApp – or email email@example.com
Everyone will be entered into a draw and the winner will receive a sack of floating pellets.
I hope you all remembered to wear your white ribbons on Wednesday to mark White Ribbon Day. This will be followed by 16 days of action across the UK, in a bid to raise awareness and to end domestic violence against women. If you missed the day itself, it is not too late to stand up for this cause which has sadly increased during the period of lockdown. You can find out more at www.whiteribbon.org.uk/day
I hope everyone managed to carry out their own act of Remembrance last Sunday in spite of the restrictions we find ourselves under. Dave and I stood in our garden and observed the two minutes silence and watched the Cathedral Service on Facebook. The whole service had been recorded before we went into lockdown, so there was no breaking of the rules. I would like to thank the Cathedral and Michael Brierley especially for putting together the service and enabling us all to remember our brave men and women from the Army, Navy and Air Force – and other services whose sacrifices have enabled us to live the lives we do today.
Dave, Rob and I took a wreath to St. John’s cemetery on Sunday afternoon and laid it on the grave of the Rev. Studdert Kennedy, fondly remembered as “Woodbine Willie”. He was a WW1 Chaplain who whilst delivering bibles to the troops in the trenches, never forgot that they also needed more worldly things like cigarettes to help them get through the horrors of the fighting.
On Armistice Day I stood in the Guildhall forecourt with Rob, my mayoral officer, Gareth from the Guildhall team and Dave, my consort. We observed the two minutes silence for the fallen. Rob spoke the famous words from Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”. We will Remember Them.
It never fails to amaze me how resilient people are and how they can carry on even when life is made so difficult. Dave and I had cause to visit the hospital in Worcester this week. Nothing serious and so we were very minor patients – but I would like to give praise and thanks to the doctors, nurses and many others working in the hospital.
They made us feel that the NHS is carrying on regardless of the fact that people are dying and the numbers entering hospital with serious conditions are larger than even a bad winter brings. My thanks and gratitude to all our health professionals and care workers for looking after us in times of ill health and stress – please remember to look after yourselves too. Stay safe.
Here we are in lockdown again. After enjoying relative freedoms during the summer and early autumn we are once again being asked to restrict our activities and stay indoors, with the exception of certain exemptions. I expect you, like me, are feeling that it is harder this time round but we must follow this advice if we are to get a hold of the virus and stop it running wild and overwhelming our hospitals and NHS.
Like you, I am disappointed and very sad that the Act of Remembrance on Sunday must be done in our own homes or gardens or on our doorstep, and not as a collective act with parades and wreath laying. I have recorded the laying of my wreath in the Cathedral on behalf of the people of Worcester and I would urge you to watch the service being live streamed on Sunday. The important and poignant 2 minutes at 11.00am on Sunday, when we stop our busy lives and remember those whose sacrifices have enabled us to enjoy our freedom, is very important to all of us – especially our veterans. My deepest thanks go to all our service men and women past and present who have served in the defence of our country.
As Mayor, I was pleased to be able to lay a wreath on the memorial at Gheluvelt Park on Sunday 25th October, to commemorate the achievements of the men of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at the Battle of Gheluvelt. Those brave soldiers saved Ypres from capture and the British Army from defeat in 1914. 34 of them made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives.
I enjoyed a few days away before lockdown was introduced and since returning, I was pleased to be part of the unveiling of the Worcester Life Stories Art Exhibition at the end of the Shambles. We have taken advantage of the scaffolding on St. Swithun’s Church, and with the consent of the Churches Conservation Trust we have hung there pictures of the Shambles from the 1950s to 70s. There is also a YouTube video here where you to see more images and enjoy past memories of this wonderful part of the city.
Please observe the rules which we will all be under for the next four weeks to protect yourself and others. Hopefully we will then be able to enjoy a more relaxed Christmas period with family and friends.
This week started off with Dave and I visiting the Wildgoose Rural Training Centre at Grimley. What a joyful and encouraging educational setting this is. It has livestock, gardens, workshops and classrooms for the students to study and enjoy. All the students we met were engaged in a sponsored walk to raise money for a tarmacked pathway around the facility – and what fun they were having at the same time! I would like to thank the staff, students, trustees and volunteers who showed us around and made us feel so welcome. Good luck and I hope you reach your target.
On Monday I was also pleased to welcome some friends into the Parlour. It is easy to forget how unique a room it is – I do enjoy sharing it with others. I can also report the Parlour saw its first streaker, little Harry Hatt – albeit he is only four months old!
This week saw another step towards the re-launch of the TalkToMeWorcester initiative. I recorded a message for the website encouraging everyone to spare a thought for their neighbour – young and old – who might be lonely and isolated and feeling down, especially at this difficult and frightening time. Have a chat directly or remotely with a neighbour, go for a walk together or think up a new and different way to make contact -you might win a Christmas shopping voucher! You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.talktomeworcester.com . Go on, give it a go.
Its been a week for recording! On Thursday I created a message for new staff and took them on a virtual tour of the Guildhall. I hope that they will watch it and have a happy and productive time with the City Council. The Guildhall is a beautiful building, which the tour demonstrated.
Winter seems to be setting in and the nights are getting longer. This is a time of year when we start to prepare for Christmas – but who knows what we will and won’t be allowed to do when Christmas comes? This is why we must all try to follow the rules which this seemingly endless pandemic is forcing upon us – with the hope that things will get easier as we approach the festive season.