This week Worcester has hosted The Three Choirs Festival, and as Mayor I am lucky enough to attend at least one of the main concerts that are held in the Cathedral. On Tuesday the Mayoress and I were invited to the Three Choirs Festival reception which was held at the Michael Barker Boathouse which belongs to the King’s School. I was able to meet Dr Alexis Paterson, who is the Chief Executive of the Three Choirs Festival, and Ben Cooper, chair of the Worcester Festival Committee.
With the uncertainty over Covid restrictions it has been a challenge for the organisers to put on a high-quality programme of events, which they have certainly met.
Tuesday’s concert featured the festival commission premiere of The World Imagined, which sets four different poems to a music score composed by Gabriel Jackson, whom I met both before and after the performance. The first half of the same concert included a performance of Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Solemn Prelude, which were debuted at a Three Choirs Festival concert in Worcester Cathedral back in 1899.
After the concert I spoke to some of the audience members, including one couple who come every time from their home in Stone in Staffordshire on their canal boat and stay in Worcester (or Gloucester) for a few days to attend the Three Choirs Festival.
Earlier on Tuesday I attended the launch of the Mount Battenhall Retirement Village. This development of the former St. Mary’s Convent School is very impressive and Neil Davison, Managing Director of Enterprise Retirement Living, showed myself and the Mayoress around. The retirement village, which has an impressive array of facilities, will create new job opportunities.
I only had two mayoral engagements this week, but what a pair!
On Wednesday I attended the Arches Summer Festival celebration at the Mode Bar on Angel Row. The ‘Same But Different Festival’ was staged this week and was responsible for these incredible inflatable structures around the city centre. You can’t not have missed the giant beanstalk sprouting up outside the Guildhall and the tentacles sprouting above the old Russell and Dorell building!
The event, which ended yesterday, also included Kaleider’s Robot Selfie on Cathedral Square and the Showglobes on the High Street. ‘The City Speaks’, which showcased poetry about recovery written by local people, was co located at St. Martin’s Gate and the South Quay Riverside. I would like to pay tribute to Laura Worsfold, CEO of Severn Arts and her colleagues, for putting on this fantastic festival.
From the newest Festival to Worcester’s oldest, The Three Choirs Festival began today with the opening service in the Cathedral. I was accompanied by His Honour Judge Burbidge in our respective robes to process from the Guildhall the Cathedral. Under normal circumstances we would be joined by the mayors with their sword and macebearers from the other Three Choir cities of Gloucester and Hereford, but today was a much simpler affair.
The opening service, conducted by Samuel Hudson, included performances from Worcester Cathedral Choir, Worcester Cathedral Voluntary Choir, Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir with the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Brass Ensemble, and the organist Nicholas Freestone.
At the time of writing tickets are still available for several concerts. The Three Choirs Festival runs until 1 August. You can buy tickets online at https://3choirs.org/ or call the Festival Box Office on 01452 768928.
Friday was a poignant day as it was the twenty sixth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. A civic commemoration was held at the Guildhall with Richard Amphlett, the High Sherriff of Worcestershire and Amil Khan, Director of Remembering Srebrenica, who delivered the keynote speech, in attendance. The ‘Living the Lessons’ pledge was delivered by Dr Yvonne Stallard, Chair of Worcestershire Inter Faith Forum, and the Rev Helen Caine.
On Monday I attended the monthly meeting of Warndon Parish Council. The local Police gave a report and informed us of their new website at neighbourhoodmatters.co.uk launched on 1 July. Members of the public are encouraged to sign up.
And on a lighter note, I am attending the “Wot A Hoot Elephant Fun Day” at the Rainbow Hill Centre today. This art event will raise money for St. Richard’s Hospice, which has organised the Big Parade of elephants which march into the city next week. I’m sure many of you remember how popular the ‘Worcester Stands Tall’ giraffe art trail was a few years ago. I’m sure this new one will be equally successful, if not more so.
And last but not least, on Wednesday, like many across the city, the Mayoress and I watched England come from behind to win their European Championship semi-final. Not only has the result brought a good feeling to many, but also provides a fantastic boost to the hospitality trade across the city as we start coming together again after months of lockdowns and other restrictions.
I have just returned from a few restful days in Northumberland, a county close to where I grew up and somewhere I can certainly recommend for your next UK holiday. The break also enabled me to recover from my operation performed by the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, who were excellent. Now I am back home and preparing for an increasing number of events, as at last we return to some resemblance of normality.
On Thursday Lucy and I were entertained by Elsie and Norm’s Macbeth, performed by Worcester Repertory Company. The Commandery Gardens provide a superb backdrop for live theatre and these performances are one of the summer cultural highlights for our city.
Yesterday (Friday) I had three mayoral functions. In the morning I was accompanied by Robin Walker MP and the Bishop of Worcester to visit some of the 25 new flats that Worcester Municipal Charities have developed for the city’s homeless. They are located at Stillingfleet House on Shaw Street.
Afterwards I had to make a quick dash back to the Guildhall to witness the presentation of British Empire Medals to Mr Mervyn Needham and to Julia Eastwood for her work with ASPIE, one of my mayoral charities. The work Aspie does to help adults with autism (including Asperger’s) is so important. Hopefully their current problems with securing long term premises in the city centre can be resolved.
In the afternoon I joined in celebrations to mark the commencement of work on the Old Fire Station. The development by Guthrie Roberts certainly looks eye catching and will bring high quality contemporary apartments to the city centre – as well as additional commercial space at Copenhagen Street.