Last Sunday the Mayoress and I were at St John’s Church in Bromsgrove for the Civic Service of Bromsgrove District Council, to support the Chairman, Councillor Rod Laight in his year of office. On Friday we also attended his charity Wine Tasting and Grazing event, which was held at the Old Rose and Crown, Lickey.
On Tuesday I was delighted to re-open the newly refurbished outdoor pitches at Perdiswell Leisure Centre. The new, luscious 4G pitches at Perdiswell are a big improvement on the old AstroTurf. After cutting the ribbon I met members of the Walking Football club who were using the facility. Walking football is an enjoyable way for older adults who enjoy football to socialise and keep fit.
The highlight of the week was on Thursday, when I attended Light Night Worcester 2021 – a free event that is part of the series of Arches Festivals that continue to take place around our city. The mayoress and I met Min Sowden from Severn Arts and the organisers and sponsors of the event at the Undercroft in the Cathedral beforehand.
When dusk fell, we joined the queue to see “Lilliput by imitating the dog” at the Old Palace. As both residents and representatives of Warndon Villages, it was a thrill to see local children from the Lyppard Grange Primary school being projected onto the façade of the Old Palace showing their imaginative ideas.
In Cathedral Square the crowds were entertained and amazed by two giant stag puppets that comprised “Ghost Caribou”, performed by the Thingumajig Theatre. Wearing my mayoral chain, I handed out mayoral badges to many happy children.
As Mayor I spent many hours in the Guildhall, and it was therefore fantastic to see “Ring the Changes” by Illuminos. This incredible illuminated display projected onto the front of the building told the story of Worcester’s past and some of the many Guilds the city used to have. There were a total of eight sets of projection art and performances around the city centre.
Finally, this morning I made a speech in the Guildhall to celebrate Black History Month. In my speech I acknowledged the hard history many black people have experienced, but also pointed out the many achievements they have made.
On Friday 8 October I had my first Royal engagement when the Mayoress and I went to St. Barnabas School and was presented to HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne). As part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Jubilee tree planting campaign, a tree was planted in the school grounds. Along with the excited school children who lined the playing field, I was joined by the Chairman of the County Council Steve McKay, the High Sheriff Richard Amphlett and other guests.
We also saw the Princess Royal later, at the Unlocking the Severn Project at Diglis. This included my first visit to the new fish pass viewing gallery, which is now open to visits. During our time by the glass viewing window, we spotted just one salmon. I was assured you would see more fish if you visited the viewing gallery at other times!
On Sunday my Civic Service was held in the Cathedral; one of the highlights of the mayoral year. This was originally going to take place in July, but with relaxed covid restrictions now in place, it meant the service could be held with a larger congregation and the singing of hymns. The title of the service “Coming Back Together” reflected my mayoral theme, with the sermon from the Dean and the Bishop in attendance, who gave the blessing.
After the service I hosted guests in the Guildhall. I also met two family cousins for the first time, who live in Malvern and are descendants from my Great Uncle, who was Chief Constable with the Worcester City Police for many years.
Finally on Thursday I went to Hartlebury to witness the auction of the elephants that decorated our city over the summer and brought so much pleasure after miserable periods of lockdown. By the time you read this, we will know how much has been raised for St. Richard’s Hospice.
Last weekend I realised how fortunate I am to be Mayor for this year, as the City celebrated the 400th anniversary of the creation of its Charter.
As I wrote last week, I had my portrait painted by children from Perry Wood Primary School and on Saturday morning I was able to view their pictures on display in the Guildhall, alongside other pieces of work created as part of their studies linked to the Charter Celebrations.
The events at the Guildhall included the play “400 Years of Worcester…in 39 minutes,” written by Kit Hunter and directed by Chris Jaeger. I watched the performance alongside my dog Monty. Afterwards I made an address from the balcony overlooking the Lower Hall in the Guildhall, welcoming those taking part – including a number of history and heritage organisations.
The Charter was read by Phillip Leach (who also was a cast member of the play); then Aleena and Leila from Perry Wood school read out their newspaper report about the Charter.
Later I was joined by past mayors of Worcester, including my wife the Mayoress, who was mayor in 2008/9, for a photograph and Civic Reception in the Assembly Room. Afterwards an organ recital was held in the Cathedral which included a work by Tomkins, dating from the period the in which the Charter was granted.
On Sunday the mayoress and I attended the Farmers’ Harvest Service organised on behalf of the Chaplaincy for Agriculture and Rural Life. During the service representatives from the County’s Young Farmers Clubs brought various products to be blessed at the altar and the address was given by the Reverend Mark Betson, National Rural Officer for the Church of England.
On Monday the mayoress and I were back in the Cathedral for a celebration and thanksgiving for the life of the Hon Lady Morrison DL. The service was attended by numerous dignitaries including the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire and the Chairman of the County, Councillor Steve McKay. Music was under the direction of Adrian Lucas and featured the State Trumpeters of the Band of the Coldstream Guards.
Last Thursday the mayoress and I were invited to an exhibition of Botanical Treasures at the Worcester Porcelain Museum. Inspired by nature, this special collaborative exhibition has been created in partnership with the Gloucestershire Society for Botanical Illustration. As well as porcelain and drawing exhibits, it also features artist demonstrations, talks, and workshops – it runs until 31 October 2021.
On Sunday it was an early start at the Morgan Motor Company, where I saw the Distinguished Gentleman’s Drive begin. There were many classic cars taking part in a drive from Malvern across Herefordshire to the Welsh borders. Monty our long-haired miniature dachshund dog had his picture taken, sitting in a three-wheeler Morgan car! I presented awards for the best car, best dressed driver and biggest charity fundraiser. The event raised over three thousand pounds in aid of men’s health.
On Monday evening my wife and I attended a meeting of the Worcester Rotary Club and I was inducted as an honorary member – a tradition for Worcester mayors dating back many years. The President of the Worcester Rotary, Paul Denham, is also a past mayor of Worcester. As a current Rotarian with the Worcester Vigornia Club I have worked alongside them on various activities in recent years, including the distribution of Christmas parcels.
The following day the mayoress and I had the privilege of attending the Friends of KGV Grandee Club Birthday celebration of Biddy Furlong. Biddy is 103 and has worked tirelessly for the organisation over the years; her longevity is an inspiration to all of us.
Yesterday the Mayoress and I went to the Guildhall. Firstly, I met Stuart Minchin for a donation handover of monies raised at the Worcester Show in August, for my mayoral charities Aspie and the Stroke Association. Afterwards I visited the Worcester Volunteer Expo, also in the Guildhall, to promote volunteering and the voluntary sector. It was an opportunity to see how many different voluntary sector organisations are working in the city and the many differing volunteering opportunities.
Afterwards it was off to Perry Wood Primary School in Ronkswood, where we attended the Perry Wood Primary School Charter 400 whole school event. This included the children drawing portraits of me wearing the mayoral chain.