The launch of the King John Exhibition at Worcester Cathedral to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta has highlighted our City’s great history, which has aroused strong international interest from the USA and elsewhere. In case anybody doesn’t know, King John is buried in the Cathedral – so go along and see Worcester’s history for real.
In reading out a message from the Queen, I attended another piece of history when I ordered the raising of the Commonwealth Flag over the Guildhall for Commonwealth Day on 9th March – a reminder of our proud Imperial past.
Continuing the City’s commemoration of the First World War, I am very pleased to have endorsed a musical tribute which local composer Ian Venables has been commissioned to write.
The West Midlands Ambulance Service Long Service and Excellence Awards Ceremony was a timely reminder of the superb work our NHS ambulance staff undertake 24 hours every day, showing true dedication and commitment to helping others. What a pity the media don’t pick up more on all this good news.
I was honoured to be the guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Worcester South’s lunch meeting when I spoke about my having travelled to 171 countries, and my plans and enthusiasm for further worldwide adventures once my Mayoralty ends.
A varied group of guests came to The Parlour for tea-tour-chat this week. A group of children from the 1st Crowle Beaver Scout Group were delightful – polite and very interested, especially enjoying the cells and sitting in the Mayor’s Council chair – so it was fitting that I have just launched a plan of action to upgrade the Guildhall cells for visitors.
How heartening that organisations such as the Scouts still exist to instil and bring out the best in our young people. And a very welcome group of exchange students from the Kreugymnasium in Dresden reminded us of the need to enjoy and share our common European heritage without the futility of war.
And what a wonderful way to end another packed week, by attending a performance at The Swan theatre of “Fiddler on the Roof” by Great Witley Operatic Society!
What a way to start the week by attending the Chinese New Year Celebrations. The huge crowd saw an incredible display of colour, energy, and extraordinary acrobatic skills. I was exhausted just watching it all. I was actually born in the Year of the Dragon which rates me as “a born leader!” Thank you, Frankie Tsang, for organising it all – and we look forward to next year’s celebrations too.
I was hugely honoured to have been asked by Worcestershire County Cricket Club to officiate at a special ceremony to unveil a Blue Plaque at the Whitehouse Hotel to commemorate the actual date (3rd March) when the Club was founded there 150 years ago, officially marking the beginning of the 150th Anniversary Celebrations. Also, a special thank you to the Hotel’s Leisure Centre Manager who, in giving me a tour of the facilities, was almost certainly being polite when he said the gym could actually do something for me! I did promise to consider joining up after my Mayoralty!
Earlier that morning at The Arena, I had experienced the success of school sport in the County today, clearly demonstrated at Sainsbury’s Winter School Games 2015. A lot of young enthusiasm and talent lies out there.
Having recently judged the winners of the Fairtrade Poster Competition held amongst local Primary Schools, it was a pure delight to welcome the children and parents to The Parlour for tea (with Fairtrade chocolate) and a tour. The quality of the drawings demonstrated a high level of skill and imagination, which made choosing the winners very difficult.
Saturday evening at St. Peter’s Baptist Church had me hearing Manuel and Jill Queiroz’s account of their Ultimate Road Trip from north Alaska to southern Argentina. As it involved seven months’ camping, it was not a trip I could ever do but – as a voracious traveller myself – that only increased my admiration for their achievement. Also, well done to Carole and Tony Langford for organising the event in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The week’s guests to The Parlour included a group of students from New College (formerly the Blind College). It was humbling to see these youngsters take on the world in such a positive and enthusiastic way. They make our routine moans and groans look completely pathetic.
Without doubt, one of the highlights of the Mayoral Year was my visit to the Queen’s Royal Hussars at their base in Germany to participate in a tank exercise – and to develop the close relationship between the Regiment and Worcester.
After I presented the scroll investing them with the Freedom of the City last year, the Regiment paid our City the highest honour by extending a special invitation to its Mayor to spend time with them on duty. The British army is without doubt the most professional in the world and my visit confirmed what a fantastic bunch of troops they are.
For me, driving and firing shells and rounds from two Challenger2 tanks will remain an unforgettable experience and memory. Despite jocular comments to the contrary, I can confirm that I slid effortlessly into and out of the tank although I must confess that the extremely tight space inside made seats in British Airways economy seem like positive luxury!
I am sure we are all looking forward to Saturday 27 June when the Regiment will be exercising its Freedom to march through the City – so make a date to go along and enjoy what will be a great day of pride and fun. A special thank you to Lt. Col. Alex Porter and RSM Neil Rudd for making my day so very special – and for the seamless efficiency and friendliness they demonstrated.
Opening the Young Enterprise Spring Fair in the High Street and then presenting the Awards to the winners gave me much pleasure as these young people – most of them no more than 16 years old – had set up and registered their own businesses. Hugely impressed by what I saw – enthusiasm, imagination, originality, initiative, professionalism, confidence – left me very optimistic about the future. Amazing uses for old vinyl records particularly aroused my interest, as a collector and user still of vinyl myself.
My guests this week included a group of staff from Tesco’s – and what a lovely bunch of people they were. Both of us are on the front line for the public and it was interesting to learn about their various roles. For 20 seconds they were all Mayor, as they tried on the Chain of Office.
It’s always comforting to start a week well as it often indicates a trend. So I was very proud to help launch Worcester 10K 2015 at the County Cricket Ground. The enormous success of last year’s race showed how well Worcester can organise a top class event. This year’s will be even bigger and better. Whilst it’s about encouraging people to participate in physical activity, it’s also about having a fun day out and there will be more stalls than ever to guarantee our enjoyment.
What a delight to have attended the second anniversary of Latimer Court Care Home. The minute I walked in, the atmosphere was friendly and caring and the devoted staff provided what the residents want and need most – personal attention and time to talk and help. I will always remember the poems and readings by amazing resident Dorothy Capper. The more risqué ones were the funniest! So, thank you Dorothy – keep on making people laugh. We could do with people like you on the Council! And congratulations to Dulcie Fletcher, the very first resident of Latimer Court, to whom I presented a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
An enormous amount of very rewarding time was spent last week drawing up the shortlists for the first-ever “Best of Worcester” Community Awards which will be presented at a ceremony at the Mayor’s Charity Dinner on 20 March. We were over the moon to have received a staggering 173 nominations, all of which were given thorough consideration. Without exception, everyone was worthwhile and had merit so, in that real sense, every nomination was a winner.
Having recently hosted a group of students from the school, it was good to meet Mr Mark Pollard, the new incoming Head Teacher of Bishop Perowne, and to wish him well. I know he has a superb set of pupils to work with.
Never forgetting to look after my constituents in Warndon and Gorse Hill, I attended a meeting of the Blackpole & Fairmount Community Group and took up a number of issues; then met a resident at my Saturday surgery to investigate her concerns about a social services matter.