Gosh, what an exciting week, starting off with a visit by Princess Anne to officially open the Oncology Centre at the Royal Hospital.
The evening at The Monday Night Club’s Big Spring Party at the Barbourne Ex-Services Club was tremendous fun, with some 100 youngsters and their carers there. It is some time since I had been to a disco and this one had the distinct advantages of there being loads of food and the music being not too loud, so that you could have a conversation. It was very amusing when, as I went outside to admire the sunset across Pitchcroft, the DJ announced: “I see the Mayor is going outside for a quick fag”, given my fierce anti-smoking activities over the decades! It is always important to join in the spirit at such events – even at the slight risk of losing one’s dignity – so I let myself go on the dance floor to do the YMCA dance – I sincerely hope there were no photographers around! A big thank you to Helen Gill for organising these immensely important and hugely popular events.
I was inspired by my visit to Sight Concern in Sansome Walk where I saw just what vital support and care they provide to people across the whole range of blind and partial-sightedness. It was very humbling to see the incredible achievements and determination of people with these conditions. Sight Concern punches well above its weight in successfully helping people – but they desperately need more funding for a service that is life-changing to those who receive it. Well done Jenny Gage and staff.
I was delighted to have maintained the tradition of the Annual Mayor’s Medical Lecture in The Guildhall, which this year was on Anaesthesia, Anaesthetics and Anaesthetists. In a format understandable to the lay person, Dr John Prosser gave us a fascinating reminder of how vital and skilled is this essential but often overlooked aspect of medical practice.
Among my guests to The Parlour was a group of Exchange students from Mondonedo in Spain. It’s amazing how perfectly these 15 year olds all spoke and understood English, reinforcing my long-held view that we Europeans should live and work more closely together.
First of all, hearty congratulations to Worcester Wolves for beating Newcastle Eagles at the University Arena last week. It was the first live basketball match I had attended and I knew Newcastle were top of the League so Worcester was up against it. However, I soon learned that only Worcester had beaten Newcastle this season, and they did it again. Worcester remained just marginally ahead throughout most of this nail-biting game. I must confess though, on occasion, the nerve-racking atmosphere did cause my verbal emotions to show through!
The 55+ Retirement Roadshow at The Guildhall was extremely worthwhile and I was very encouraged to see such a large number and wide range of stands offering advice for older people. It was organised under the umbrella of The National Careline which, through these exhibitions, offers free information about care and support covering the issues that concern people as they grow older. Of course, 55+ these days is not old so the range of stalls did not only include information about pensions and health, but also about volunteering, rambling, and U3A (University of the Third Age). A big thank you to Barbara Davies for organising it all again.
As an Honorary member, I was delighted to host the Worcester Lions Club Grant Scheme awards which gives money to local good causes, and hand the cheques to Severn Sound Festival; Mumsnet; Age UK; Asha; St. Paul’s hostel; Sons of Rest; Make Time Friendship group; and Powick Playing Fields Association. Very worthy causes. Well done Gordon Templeton, President of the Club, for maintaining this tradition.
Being Mayor carries the responsibility of representing our great City across Worcestershire and beyond, just as I routinely invite Mayors from other cities, towns, and districts to join in Worcester’s events. Collectively, we’re rather amusingly but accurately known as “The Chain Gang” because we all turn up wearing our chains of office! Recent events have included attending Worcestershire County Council’s Civic Service in the Cathedral; the Mayor of Pershore’s Charity Concert in Pershore Abbey; the Civic Service for the Mayor of Malvern Hills District Council in Great Malvern Priory; and a Charity Dinner for the Chairman of Wyre Forest District Council in Kidderminster.
I have been blessed recently attending a large number of cultural and youth events where so much amazing talent was on display that it reinforced my faith in the city’s young people. Starting off with a performance of Fiddler on the Roof by Great Witley Operatic Society at the Swan Theatre; then the Worcestershire Young Musicians Showcase 2015 at Huntingdon Hall left me in awe listening to such diverse and extraordinary talent coming along from students, some as young as 10 years old – and thank you Gill Lumsdon for all your hard work and commitment. Then yet more up-and-coming young talent in music, drama, and readings was on display when I presented awards at the Worcester Competitive Arts Festival at the RGS.
It was good to meet Shakira Rawlins, who is studying journalism at the University, to do an interview with me about the City of Culture issue and I was delighted that she did accurately report what I had actually said.
Even cutting the ribbon to open the new and larger Vodaphone store in The Shambles felt like a young person’s event as all the staff were noticeably young and enthusiastic, and so they should be as that event was further proof of the vibrancy of our High Street shopping centre.
Planting a tree in Gheluvelt Park (in between showers) to recognize the tree-mendous(!) work done by the Friends of Gheluvelt Park over the years enabled me to thank them with what hopefully will be a long-lasting legacy. Thank you to the Friends’ Chairman Allen Barnatt and all his colleagues.
I was very proud and honoured to have presented the 15 and 20 year service awards at the Worcester Male Voice Choir Annual Presentation Lunch in such a friendly and pleasant atmosphere. Well done lads for sharing your talent with the rest of us, and thanks to Geoff Ruddock and others for your hard work and dedication.
My guests in the Mayor’s Parlour this week included the school council from Oldbury Park Primary School, and what a delightful group of polite and interested pupils they were in their strikingly smart maroon uniforms. I also welcomed a group of students from Tudor Grange Academy, some of whom had been in the Christmas production of Flippin’ Freezin’ and, in particular, the student who had taken the part of the Mayor.
Although the Mayor’s Charity Dinner and first ever Best of Worcester Community Awards Ceremony was long in the preparation, we were rewarded with a brilliant success. It was the result of my review of all the Mayoral functions to ensure they remained fit for purpose and relevant.
This traditional event was transformed into an enjoyable celebration of so many individuals and organisations that have done something for others. And with an amazing 173 nominations, it clearly struck a chord and met a need.
The winners included nine year old Ben Chadwick who swam 50km to raise funds for the hospital team which saved his life as a baby; Snoezelen, who provide support and help for those in need of a multi-sensory environment; Lyppard Hub which improves community spirit and goodwill; Clancy Radley and Jacob Watton of Deaf Direct for helping hundreds of young people who suffer from a hearing disability; Two Pennies Money Advice who provide free advice to local people with money problems; and Sue Wright/Dilys Round/Barbara Good of St. Clements Church for running a Saturday afternoon tea party for elderly and lonely people.
And the Mayor’s own personal commendation went to Hollymount School, in recognition of the dedication and commitment from the teaching and non-teaching staff and the achievement of the pupils for working so hard – often in difficult circumstances – to achieve success.
Another innovation was top caricaturist Mick Wright, who left guests with a unique memory of themselves – what a talent to capture people’s characteristics in a matter of minutes!
All the proceeds will go to local charities, including my Come On In project to tackle the problem of loneliness amongst older people by setting up a network of luncheon and film clubs/snack & chat/meet & greet groups; as well as Forces Support who provide practical help to families when it is needed most following the loss of a soldier in action; and the Cathedral Charitable Trust to help the poor and needy.
So, a huge thank you to everyone who nominated or was nominated. There are only winners in this situation – no losers – and I hope this starts the tradition of recognising and rewarding Worcester people for all the work they choose to do for others, without ever expecting or seeking anything for themselves.