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Author: Mayor Allah Ditta

Mayor’s Week: 7 – 13 June 2019

Mayor’s Week: 7 – 13 June 2019

Not many days go by when I’m not left completely staggered and lost for words by the wonderful people of this city – the rising generation of children in particular. Two events this week underlined this in spectacular style…

A visit to Carnforth School on Thursday left me touched and not a little humbled by some very special children.  The garden which they’ve created and tend with such loving care is a lesson to us all.

And then on Monday, I met with gifted 5 to 14 year-olds from all over the county, who are being fast-tracked to a glittering future by Worcester Children’s University.  At that age, to give up more than 100 hours of otherwise ‘me-time’ in addition to normal school activities is an impressive investment for a child to make:  The Graduation Ceremony at Worcester Arena was a clear indicator that the future may not be so bleak after all!

Sandwiched in between these events was a fruitful discussion with the local Royal British Legion about ways to make Armed Forces Day even more memorable this year.  It’s too easy to forget the debt we owe our ex-servicemen and the recent 75th anniversary of D-Day gave the discussion added drive and determination.

On Friday, I again felt humility and respect – on this occasion for the uncounted thousands of volunteers that so selflessly give up their time for others.  The event was the opening of the Worcester Volunteer Expo at the Guildhall, where around 40 charities and local organisations were looking to recruit more volunteers.

More wondrous Worcestershire wit was on show for the launch of the ninth Worcestershire Literary Festival and Fringe last weekend.

It’s also been a week of travel with my mayoral chain, as I represented Worcester at two mayor-making events:  Nazim Choudary at Northampton – its 779th mayor who’s touchingly chosen his mother as consort for the year, bless – and Ken Henderson in his third term as mayor of Stourport-on-Severn.

Unfortunately, sadness has clouded some of the joy of this week’s otherwise inspiring calendar: the passing of a very dear friend and fellow councillor at the tragically early age of 60.  I’m going to miss Stuart Denlegh-Maxwell, and Worcester is all the poorer for this loss.

Mayor’s Week: 31 May – 6 June 2019

Mayor’s Week: 31 May – 6 June 2019

That’s it. The month of fasting for Ramadhan is over, and guess what?  I’ve put on weight!

At least, the magnificent mayoral chain still fits – and a good job too as it’s been a hectic, action-packed week with Mister Elgar of Worcester dominating, but not quite taking over.

But first, a few words to correct those who were worried that I may have been giving away your hard-earned Council tax to a worthy, although essentially Asian, cause.  The £2,500 I mentioned last week came through donations made by my fellow worshippers at the mosque:  not a penny of it came from public funds.

My, but what a go, Go, GO week it’s been!  Anxious to get cracking on pet projects, I called Tim Booker of the Canal and River Trust into the Parlour to kick around potential fund-raising ideas for a big tidy-up of the canal from Diglis to Blackpole, including steps to improve water quality.  As they say, watch this space!

Then it was all pomp and circumstance with no enigmas but plenty of variation for the three-day celebration of the work of perhaps Worcester’s greatest son: Mr, later Sir of course, Edward Elgar.  To hear his music played in the setting of our wonderful Cathedral, any religion differences soon forgotten, is an experience that left me truly humbled.

I was also humbled at an event hosted by the City Council at the Commandery on Tuesday.  There I met more than 120 amazing and selfless people, all volunteers for many of our most worthy organisations – every single one of whom deserves, and gets, my all-out respect.

Mayor and daughter Parveen Akhtar, pictured with a group of Worcester volunteers

And then on the same day, two events of a kind I always look forward to – welcoming awestruck schoolchildren into the Parlour:  in the morning, 36 (‘sechsunddreißig’) exchange pupils and their teachers from Germany, and in the afternoon a similar number (‘treinta y seis’) from Spain.

Sandwiched in between was the opening of Helping Hands’ shop in Broad Street.

I can’t pretend I wasn’t relieved when Eid and the end of fasting came around on Wednesday:  at this rate of official events, I’m going to need all the  strength I can muster!

MAYOR’S WEEK: 24 – 30 MAY 2019

MAYOR’S WEEK: 24 – 30 MAY 2019

The Mayor presents prizes to winners of the Worcester Community LotterySometime you can’t help but wonder at the startling pace of change in our world. When I first wrote this column in my mayoral term 2004-5 it was the Mayor’s Diary in print. Now it’s the Mayor’s Blog!

Even so – and it pleases me no end to say so – some things don’t change, first and foremost my continued pledge to attend as many official engagements as time allows: this week progressing much as I intend to continue.

I enjoyed a sheer delight on Wednesday – the Severn Arts Festival ‘Young Voices, New Visions’ event in the Cathedral, bringing together the youthful musical abilities of gifted Worcestershire schoolchildren. So much talent. So much energy. And so much to be thankful for.

Nor will I ever forget that as your Mayor, I’m walking in the shoes of my illustrious peers. One of the finest was my friend Mike Layland whose all-out drive to forge closer relations with Ghana in 2011 took a leap forward this week with an update by Alhaji Salah Kweku Kalmoni on the progress of a low-cost community housing project in Accra. This is an integral part of the initiative Mike helped set up. As a mark of their appreciation, the organisers have invited me to visit Ghana to see their on-going progress. Mike would have been highly chuffed, I’m sure.

I was also deeply honoured to be able to hand over a cheque for £2,500 to a truly inspirational man the next day – Professor Mohammed Alyas Ayub, founder of a school for the blind in Azad Kashmir. Born blind, but refusing to let it get in the way of his ambitions, he followed his dream and his school is now one of the wonders of the world. His goal, ‘From Darkness to Light’, is one we should all follow.

Despite the international flavour the week took on at first, my own motto was never forgotten: ‘City comes first’. Opening the Oak Apple Day celebrations at The Commandery was a huge honour, as was handing over the prizes to the first winners of the new Worcester Community Lottery.

As someone else once famously said, ‘All go, innit?’ And so it will continue.

MAYOR’S WEEK: 17 – 23 MAY 2019

MAYOR’S WEEK: 17 – 23 MAY 2019

Mayor of Worcester Allah Ditta

It’s with a mix of emotions that I write this first diary of my second mayoral term from the familiar surroundings of the Guildhall.

Pride, at being elected Mayor of this great city that has been home to me and my family for the past 52 years.

Joy, at being able to pick up some of the unfinished business I had started in 2004 but had been unable to complete during my first term as Mayor.

Hope that my vision for a more unified Worcester, a more cohesive Worcester, and a more open Worcester will unfold as each week passes in a year that holds so much promise.

Humility, of course, that Worcester has chosen its second Asian mayor in succession. I imagine that my wishes for Worcester and the wishes of you, its citizens, are largely one and the same, and it’s important to note that the role and traditions of Mayor are safe in my hands (on which subject, I am reliably informed, mine was the 777th and now the 792nd terms to date!).

All of which is coloured with perhaps a tinge of sadness: that there’s still a minority who feel it’s permissible to voice their hate messages behind the cloak of anonymity afforded them on the internet.

As Mayor, my aim, as of day one, is to foster a more open approach towards visitors, local and tourist alike. So if you’re in the Guildhall and you see my door physically open, then you can take it that my office is equally so.

In my first term back in 2004 it was shown that I had attended more events and raised more money for my charities than many of the previous holders – and that’s a tradition I’m keen to uphold. If they benefit my chosen charities, Worcester Headway, Worcester Wheels, our magnificent Cathedral of course, and St Richard’s Hospice, then so much the better.

This is going to be a great year for Worcester. I can feel it, and if you don’t already, I trust you very soon will.