Monday 30th: The basket ball team of the University of Worcester continues to be the best. Again it has won the Championships: six times in the last eight years. To celebrate this success the members of the team came to the Parlour for “tea”.
My last “one to one” chat, as Mayor, with Tim Clarke, Editor of the “Worcester Standard”.
The portrait of Hubert Aloysius Leicester now hangs in the Guildhall. With members of the Worcester Festival Choral Society the portrait was unveiled. This is what I said at this event:
“I discovered, quite by chance, a portrait of Hubert Aloysius Leicester in the store of the Worcester Museum. His father was a bookseller at No. 6 The High Street and throughout his life Hubert looked after the music books. He was Mayor of Worcester five times in 1904, 1905, 1913, 1914 and 1915. He is believed to be the first Catholic Mayor.
The more I researched him I found more and more such that it seemed to me that his portrait really should be in the Guildhall. He was a longstanding friend of Elgar and closely associated with the Festival Chorus. Elgar formed a wind quintet of which Leicester was leader and the first flute. His brother, William Leicester, was the clarinetist. The group was known at ‘The Brothers Wind’ or ‘The Sunday Band’.
“Later Leicester became Sir Hubert Leicester. He was responsible for Elgar receiving the Freedom of the City of Worcester in 1905. When Edward Elgar received the Freedom of the City from Leicester, Elgar reminisced about his days working at St. George’s as an organist, when Leicester was his choirmaster. At the time they were both in the wind quintet, and in the process of his own mythmaking, implied that composing music for the quintet took precedence over religion: “We met on Sunday afternoons, and it was an understood thing that we should have a new piece every week.”
“In addition he was head of a respected firm of accountants and was the second President of the Rotary Club of Worcester.
“Ladies and Gentlemen I think you will agree that Hubert Aloysius is a man whom we should celebrate.”
Tuesday 1st: Our team of three have just returned from Ghana (Adentan Municipal Assembly) where they have been advising on the Local Economic Development programme (funded by the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF)). The “Adentan News” is now markedly improved: this local newspaper is regularly produced monthly and is proving to be a valuable means of communication. The “Business Desk” is in place with IT equipment financed through our project resources. This will further enhance the production of the newspaper and provide a focal point to help local businesses. The Master Plan for Adentan progresses well having been initiated from our Worcester Master Planning process. This visit to Adentan was the last under the CLGF scheme. However we will remain in contact with our Ghanaian friends helping where we can.
I last saw “My Fair Lady” on film when I was in Uganda in 1965. This evening Jane and I attended the stage production at the Swan Theatre. The Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society (WODS) performed wonderfully and we were enthralled throughout. Congratulations to Chris Holloway (Director) and the whole team for a memorable evening. It is hard to believe that WODS has been going since 1892!
Wednesday 2nd: To take out the “dis” from “disability” is what we should all strive for. I was therefore pleased to formally open the “Disability Answers” Shop (part of DIAL South Worcestershire) in the Crowngate Centre. “Disability Answers” is a free and impartial service providing information on local services and suppliers of aids and equipment which support disabled people with daily living issues. The shop is situated ideally for people arriving by bus who want to shop in Worcester: loans of Shopmobility scooters and wheelchairs are available. For more information: www.disabilityanswers.org.uk
Thursday 3rd: City Council Elections Day. The Green Party won its first seat on the Council. The balance now is Conservative 17, Labour 15, Liberal democrats 2 and Green 1. We live in interesting times. But whatever is decided it is the City that must come first!!
Friday 4th: Pretty weary after yesterday.
Saturday 5th: The Church of St. Philip and St. James, Whittington, is where Jane and I have worshipped for many years. It seemed appropriate therefore that we should have our “Thanksgiving Service” for this last mayoral year there. It was a most enjoyable and happy occasion with full civic robes and officers presided over by my Mayor’s Chaplain, The Reverend Canon Ken Boyce.
Jane read the lesson from The Letter of Paul to the Philippians which we had chosen specifically for the occasion:
If then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart, any loving consolation, any sharing of the Spirit, any warmth of affection or compassion, fill up my cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another, the same turn of mind, and a common care for unity.
There must be no room for rivalry and personal vanity among you, but you must humbly reckon others better than yourselves.
Look to each other’s interests and not merely to your own.
My address was as follows:
Friends and councillor colleagues.
Thank you so much for coming to this Thanksgiving Service for this last mayoral year.
We have had mayors in Worcester since Edward Hurdman in 1621…….looking through the record of past mayors you realise what a privilege it is to be added to that list.
It seems only yesterday that I was elected mayor of the City Worcester.
Something I never dreamt would happen to me.
We have with us today four past Mayors of the City: Liz Smith, Lucy Hodgson, Mike Layland and Robert Rowden and other councillor colleagues
The fact that you have come is very special to me and thank you.
While chairing Full Council meetings you have always been courteous and made the daunting task much easier and indeed enjoyable.
When I returned, with Jane, from Uganda in 2000 I thought very hard about throwing my hat into the political ring….I am not really a political type.
In Africa we had seen real poverty and deprivation.
On our return to the UK we realised the contrast and just what a wonderful City we live in and how privileged we are.
That is not to deny the life difficulties that many people in our communities experience…housing and employment especially.
So I felt that rather than just grumble from the touch line the way forward was to get involved and try to redress the balance between what we think we have not to what we have.
Before I say more there are some important “thank you’s”:
The Mayoralty is not just one person….it is a team.
For most of the engagements Jane has been there with me in prominent patient support and not just as the guardian of the mayoral chain.
Susan O’Kane, my PA, has been wonderful making the task fun and rewarding. Her guidance has been invaluable.
My sword bearer, Frank, and ceremonial officers give symbolic protection to the mayor appearing with pride on all civic occasions.
The Guildhall attendants are always there assisting with courtesy and style recognised and much appreciated by visitors from all over the world.
Thank you to Caroline Mayfield and Brenda Giles, our church wardens, for helping to prepare for today.
And Liz Chestney for playing the organ and changing her holiday plans to be here.
Then Ken Boyce, my Chaplain. Thank you, Ken.
You said when I invited you to be my chaplain that it was not a very onerous task…..but sincerely you have made a real difference.
I am a passionate believer in prayers to precede our Full Council meetings.
They set the scene and focus the mind just with those few moments of reflection.
On several occasions, including the one when Bishop Christopher Mayfield stood in for you, the words that you used changed what I was concerned might become a difficult meeting.
Not everyone may be aware of this effect but I certainly felt it.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year.
People often ask me “what are the highlights?”
Not an easy question to answer.
Events such as this Thanksgiving Service certainly.
The many occasions that we have attended the Cathedral …. the Civic Service, Remembrance Sunday, Battle of Worcester Drum Head Service, Carol Services with all their variety….and so on.
It is from the position of being mayor that you see the breadth of talent in music and the performing arts……the great choirs of the Worcester Festival Choral Society, the Three Choirs Festival, The Music Festival, Sing UK, Worcester Live to the school choirs and drama productions.
The visits to the Parlour and tours of the Guildhall have become increasingly popular.
There we meet 100’s of people from all over the City, County, Country and World.
The Primary School Children from every part of the City are a delight to entertain.
I must mention my fellow mayors and civic heads from around the County.
We have met on numerous enjoyable occasions and become great friends.
We all have a sense of sadness about the end of our year…… but we wish our successors that they have as a fulfilling year as we have.
Jane and I have worshipped here in Whittington for many years….this place is very precious to us.
When we used to return for leave from our spells in Uganda there was always a warm welcome home.
So we felt that it was entirely fitting that we should have this Thanksgiving Service here.
During this last year it has not been possible to attend as before……many of our engagements elsewhere have been on Sunday. Well, we’re back now.
“Thank You” to each and every one of you.