I am now two thirds of the way through my mayoral year and hoping that before my period in office is finished, I will have chance to meet more of you and hear about your lives and interests. So many of you in Worcester have shown extraordinary courage and kindness during the time since we went into our first lockdown ten months ago. There have been so many stories of people helping each other and putting their own health and wellbeing at risk to do so. To each one of you I want to say a personal thank you for your sacrifices and kindness; we all owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
Work at the City Council continues as usual; I have attended a number of Zoom meetings in the last few days. Who would have thought that we would be running our lives like this 12 months ago? Just a word to all the mums and dads who are home schooling. I know how hard it is to inspire young people to want to learn and keep them interested. Teachers go through three or four years of training to do it, and suddenly parents are expected to take over the reins as well as do their own work and run a home. It is difficult and you deserve our praise and thanks for all your efforts in doing this.
I hope you will have seen in the Worcester News that my first vaccination went very smoothly; I am pleased to say that I had no after effects. I feel that I am on the way to having the best protection I can from COVID and would urge everyone to take up the jab when it is offered. This week we passed a terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths in this country from COVID, and the only way out is through the vaccine. I try to keep positive by planning holidays for the future. It’s good fun because I haven’t set myself any limits. It certainly helps to pass a wet and cold afternoon in lockdown!
First the good news! I have been asked to attend to have my covid vaccination. This is such excellent news and I am very relieved to have received the invitation. It is a relief to know that as you read this, both Dave and I may be getting our jabs. I would urge you all to take up the offer of the vaccination when it comes to you. It is the only way out of this pandemic and to reduce the appalling number of cases of covid and deaths in our country and to save the NHS from being overwhelmed. I am extremely grateful to all NHS staff who are working over and above their normal hours to deliver this life saving vaccine.
This week I made the draw for the winner of the Big Christmas Swan Feed competition. In these troubled times it is hard to think of the protection of our animals and birds when we have so much to worry about, keeping ourselves and each other safe. However, the swan population was badly hit by avian flu a few weeks ago and I believe that 60 of them died as a result. I am pleased to report that the remaining swans in the area seem to be healthy and have settled back well into their usual feeding and resting areas. Please take time, if you can, to walk down to the river and see them and give them some much needed food. There’s lots of information on the Swan Food Project website about what to feed them. Swans bring such pleasure to passers by and are a great addition to our waterside.
I had another zoom call set up for Wednesday afternoon with Worcester Massachusetts. Their Mayor, Joe Petty, and I were set to discuss how Worcester UK can assist our Massachusetts twin town to celebrate 300 years since their founding in 1721. However, apparently something else was taking place in the USA on Wednesday and so at the last minute, the call was postponed. I can’t think what could have been so important on Wednesday to cause the last-minute cancellation of our meeting??? Can anyone help me out with this one?
I am sure that you, like me, are shocked by the sharp rise in the number of COVID cases in Worcester over the last week. We must all continue to do whatever we can to prevent this deadly disease from getting any worse – but it does sometimes feel, as the numbers rise, that we are on a conveyor belt that we can’t stop and get off. I am confident that the majority of Worcester people are sensible and behave in a safe and responsible way, but unfortunately the numbers of infections continue to rise, so everyone must be more alert.
I just can’t wait to get my vaccination. I don’t mind if it is given in the GP surgery, at the hospital, at a pharmacy or at a special centre, it can’t come too quickly for me. Like you all, I long to be able to do the special things in life again like hug my children and grandchildren, go to the shops without wearing a mask, visit the theatre, go into a pub for a drink and a meal with friends. These things will come back, but we must be patient and wait until it is safe. I know how hard it is for us all.
Life goes on though, and this week I recorded a message for Holocaust Memorial Day which takes place on 27th January. Following COVID advice I recorded the message outside the Guildhall. This will go out with the other speakers’ messages via social media – including the Worcester Facebook page. This important annual act of remembrance for those who suffered and died in the Holocaust is a lasting memorial to them – and also a vow that this will never be allowed to happen again.
I also attended a zoomed Twinning Association meeting this week. By using this technology, we are connecting with more people from our twinned cities both here and abroad than in normal times, so some good is coming out of this dreadful pandemic.
HAPPY NEW YEAR. A phrase we have no doubt repeated several times over the last few days, but never said with more meaning than this new year with all the hopes for the future that it brings. When we reflect on 2020, our thoughts are bound to be clouded by the very unhappy and cruel year it was for many people. My most sincere wishes go to the people who have lost a loved one; to those in the NHS and care sector who have cared for the sick and dying with the most extraordinary devotion; to the key workers including teachers, police officers and housing and service providers; to the students and school children who have lived with uncertainty about their education but managed to stay positive about their studies; to their parents and carers who have had to pull out all the stops to become home educators; and to all of us whose lives have been upset by coronavirus in 2020. A huge thank you.
Since I last wrote to you, I enjoyed some Christmas cheer in the two Worcester News Carol Services held at the Cathedral on the Monday before Christmas. I read a lesson with others telling the Christmas story and the Kings School choir sang beautifully. This message we celebrated tells of a hope for better things to come in the future. We certainly need that reassurance right now – and we have it in the roll out of the vaccines that are now available to protect us against this terrible disease. I can’t wait to get my call to go for my vaccination, so I will feel safe again.
As we enter our third and hopefully our last lockdown, I am full of optimism for 2021. I know it will take time to vaccinate all those who are at the most risk, and that our lives may not return to our old idea of normal for some time, but we have endured this before and we will do so again. We will come through this, so with that in mind I say again HAPPY NEW YEAR.