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Author: Cllr Paul Denham

Mayor’s Week: 5 – 11 May 2017

Mayor’s Week: 5 – 11 May 2017

My mayoral year ends on Tuesday 16 May, when I will hand the chain over to a new mayor at the annual City Council Meeting, so this is my last weekly diary.

I began last May by announcing my theme “No Community Left Behind”.  I have invited homeless, disabled, and other special people for tea in the Parlour, and for tours of The Guildhall.

I cancelled the traditional mayor’s inaugural banquet, which offered free slap-up meals and drinks to guests who could afford to pay.  Instead, I invited homeless and disadvantaged users of Maggs Day Centre, St Paul’s Hostel, YMCA and CCP (a charity supporting the homeless in Worcester) to a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, in our magnificent Assembly Room in The Guildhall.

In October half-term school holiday, I arranged for the first ever Family Fun Day in The Guildhall.  Excited children brought their mums and dads and lots of free activities kept them busy for hours.

I also wanted to raise money for Midlands Air Ambulance and to send children from low-income families on adventure holidays at youth hostels. YHA Breaks for Kids and Action for Children will make this happen, using some of this money.

This has also been a year helping others to celebrate. Apprentices, scouts and guides, cadets, school students, Rotarians, Lions, college and university graduates have all celebrated their achievements.

We have experienced fantastic music, drama, dance and poetry at the Swan Theatre, Cathedral and Racecourse, and thanked hundreds of volunteers who work hard to keep many worthwhile activities alive.

Many other volunteers helped me during the year to make my events a success and raise money for my chosen charities. I want to thank them all for making this an unforgettable year for Lynn, Lucinda and me.

Our good wishes go to the incoming mayor and mayoress – we hope they have a really successful year.




Mayor’s Week: 28 April – 4 May 2017

Mayor’s Week: 28 April – 4 May 2017

The Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society (WODS) performed Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore at the Swan Theatre last week. This was the first ever WODS production in 1892 so it was appropriate to celebrate their 125th anniversary by staging it again this year.

Months of hard work by the large cast and back-stage members created a superb spectacle which was very much appreciated by an enthusiastic audience. We’re looking forward to their next production in the autumn.

On Sunday, Worcester’s Community Theatre School, All Sorts Performing Arts, welcomed us to their open day at the Warndon Hub in Shap Drive. This not-for-profit organisation is led by enthusiastic young people who offer three-18-year-olds the chance to learn a variety of performing arts skills. Despite the low cost of the classes, many are run by professional teachers.

The children and young people we watched were really enjoying themselves and learning to perform is a great way to increase self-confidence. Like many local groups, All Sorts struggles to attract the funding it needs to expand its operation. There is so little money available from local councils now and it is getting harder to find charities able to offer support, despite the fantastic contribution All Sorts makes for young people in our city. I do hope they can find some benefactors to keep them going.

On Tuesday, a group of American students from our twin city of Worcester in Massachusetts arrived for a tour of The Guildhall. They had been here since March as guests of our own University and have been studying at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. I had welcomed their Principal here a few weeks ago so was delighted to welcome the students before they returned home at the end of this week.

Next week is my last as your Mayor and I will be busy right up to the end.

Mayor’s Week: 22 – 27 April 2017

Mayor’s Week: 22 – 27 April 2017

Titania Limited is an award-winning software security company located in Barbourne Road, Worcester. The company has partnered with the Heartsafe City of Coon Rapids, near Minneapolis St Paul in the USA, to help Worcester become the first Heartsafe City in the UK.

On Monday, Titania brought US police officer Bryan Platz to The Guildhall, who presented me with a framed document from the Mayor of Coon Rapids declaring his city’s desire to partner with our city in this project. Now it’s not often a fully uniformed American cop is my guest in the Parlour, so I was interested to hear what he had to say.

Bryan has attended over one hundred cardiac arrests during his 18 years as a US cop. 95% of them died, often leaving grieving loved ones behind. Some were quite young. These incidents often happened at home or work, with people around them who panicked and had no idea how to help.

In recent years, Bryan has helped train 15,000 local residents to use cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AEDs), machines which shock a stopped heart back to life. Death rates have fallen as a result.

Bryan ran a number of free training sessions at Titania’s office this week for local workers, so I went along to learn more. I heard that permanent brain damage occurs just three minutes after the heart stops beating, unless CPR is started on the victim. Emergency services do not usually arrive within three minutes, but if a bystander quickly starts CPR and this is followed by AED use, the survival rate increases from 5% to 85%.

I think I could now help save a life and hope that we can encourage many more residents to do the same. We need many more easily accessible AEDs and many more locals who know how to use them. Readers can learn more by searching for “Coon Rapids Heartsafe” on the internet.

Mayor’s Week: 15 – 21 April 2017

Mayor’s Week: 15 – 21 April 2017

I write this week’s column having just learned of the sudden death of former mayor Mike Layland. Mike served as a city councillor for most of his life. He was well known and respected throughout our city. Our thoughts are with his wife June and other family members at this sad time.

Mike Layland receiving the Freedom of Worcester in 2014
Mike Layland receiving the Freedom of Worcester in 2014

Juggling the diary and trying to do as much as possible each day is part and parcel of the life of being Mayor and it is particularly challenging right now.

Mayoral duties take priority, so other things have to be fitted in. Our daughter’s wedding last Saturday was, of course, an exception and could not be moved! It was an extremely happy and memorable day.

On Easter Monday, about two hundred adults and children came to the free Easter Eggstravaganza in Fort Royal Park. The rain stayed away until the end of the event and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.

This has been Go Green Week in Worcester and we dropped by the launch event on Tuesday. A temporary kitchen had been erected in front of The Guildhall, which offered free vegetable curry and fritters to everyone showing an interest. This showed that 1,000 meals can, with a little ingenuity, be made from the food which an average family throws away every year, saving several hundred pounds.

Dr David Webster during his time working in East Africa
Dr David Webster during his time working in East Africa

In the evening, retired Upton GP, Dr David Webster, who spent much of his life providing medical help to extremely deprived people living in East Africa, presented a fascinating illustrated talk about his work. This was the sixth annual Mayor’s Medical Lecture and has become something of a tradition. The audience made welcome contributions to my charities.

Somehow, I have to find time to knock on a few hundred doors before I hand over my chain of office. It must be election time!

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