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Category: 2018-2019 Mayor Jabba Riaz

Mayor’s Week: 27 March – 3 April 2020

Mayor’s Week: 27 March – 3 April 2020

The majority of us are approaching the end of a second week of staying at home.  We are gradually developing new routines and different ways of keeping in touch with one another, where face to face conversation isn’t an option.

As by nature we humans are a fairly social species, staying at home can be really challenging.  It may sometimes also feel that being at home = doing nothing constructive.  But I do want to urge you all to stay with it – because for every day that you follow the guidance and socially distance yourselves from others, you are indirectly helping to save at least one person’s life.

My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a loved one during this crisis.  This virus will only continue spreading from person to person if we let it – we are all in the front line fighting this same battle.

Of course, many people who are running essential services to keep Worcester functioning do not have the option to stay at home.  In addition to all the amazing staff at the NHS, I’d like to thank all City Council staff who are working hard to collect our bins, keep areas clean, make sure homeless people have a roof over their head and make sure our hard-hit businesses get the support they need.  Their roles may not be as visible as those in our hospitals, but their work is nevertheless vital.

In times of crisis, our city has and I believe always will come together.  The last few weeks have seen thousands of individual acts of kindness take place in Worcester.  Whether you’ve been able to buy a loaf of bread for a neighbour, chatted to someone in isolation or waited patiently in a queue to pick up someone’s medication, you have played a part in this city’s recovery.  We can and will get through this – and when we do, our communities will be even stronger as a result.  Keep it up, citizens of Worcester!  And for now, Stay at Home – and Stay Safe.

Mayor’s Week: 3 – 10 May 2019

Mayor’s Week: 3 – 10 May 2019

A year to remember

We are moving closer to Tuesday’s Annual Council meeting, when my mayoral year will end.  Who would have thought a year could pass so quickly?  Looking back it’s been a spectacular twelve months, full of surprises, challenges and unforgettable moments.

It began with a brilliant summer last year, with the colourful Giraffes and the Worcester Festival getting things off to a flying start.  Other highs were the awarding of the Freedom of the City to Basil D’Oliveira, public recognition for Frank Southam, a loyal Sword bearer and servant of the City for many years; a great Worcester Show and Victorian Fayre; Worcestershire winning the T20 cricket final, and judging children’s designs for the Mayor’s new Christmas card.


Being a relatively young whippersnapper to the office of Mayor brought its own expectations and pressures. I had to not only respect and uphold the traditions of office but also bring a fresh approach to it, appealing to a wider audience.

I went in with the intention of putting my heart and soul into the role and with three goals in mind:  to uphold and spread the message of Peace and goodwill that this city is renowned for; to open the Mayoralty up to a younger audience and to reach out to all our diverse communities and bring them together.

My message of Love not Hate has especially resounded in the current climate of hostility; there has been a rise in Hate Crime in South Worcestershire.  However, the EDL march through Worcester last summer was confronted by a response of solidarity and dancing.

Thousands turned out for the Vigil of student Tom Jones, and thousands turned up to see if they were a match for young boy Oscar Saxelby-Lee, who has a rare form of Leukaemia.  These are strong indications that the Love Not Hate message is getting through. My Mayor’s Consort scheme which gave young adults with a disability or known condition the chance to accompany me for a day was not only a treat to those participating, but an eye opener for me, stepping into their shoes for a day to see some of the difficulties they face.

I’d also like to thank my Community Ambassadors Malik Fayyaz and Tom Piotrwoski who have done a wonderful job helping to organise events which brought peoples of all faiths and none together.

I always say that Worcester is one of the best cities in terms of safety, quality of life, happiness and politeness.  I also believe we are one of the most generous in terms of volunteering and charity. During this year we have managed to raise in the region of £30,000 for my three fantastic nominated charities.  I could not have done it without your generosity and kindness.

Of course it’s also been a difficult year with personal circumstances at home and the fact that I have had to work on top of my Civic responsibilities.  The support I have received from family, friends, colleagues and hundreds of residents has kept me going through the toughest of periods.

I hope that I have served this City and its residents well and I seek your pardon if I have inadvertently upset anyone or didn’t perform to expectations!  But I hope you’ll agree that I wore my heart on my sleeve while in office; thank you for the opportunity to be your humble servant, the Mayor of Worcester.


Mayor’s Week: 20 – 26 April 2019

Mayor’s Week: 20 – 26 April 2019

I donned my Panama hat and jacket for the Worcestershire County Cricket Club Chairman’s lunch, to hear about the next phase in the re-shape at New Road. The new Chairman Fanos Hira spoke with authority and clarity regarding the changes that are planned in the next phase of transformation. He was ably backed by an experienced board room and New Club president Cecil Duckworth CBE, who gave full backing to CEO Matt Rawnsley’s new One Club vision. Change is always difficult and sometimes painful, but it was needed at Worcestershire and I feel confident that the Club are in good hands. I wish them every success.

I was invited to lead Worcester City FC out at the Allpay Park stadium by the Mayor of Hereford Cllr Sue Boulter against her local team Westfields in aid of her chosen charities.  I enjoyed a match that Worcester City dominated for large periods, the game ended in a 1-1 draw & I took the opportunity to talk with fans of the club about their hopes and concerns.  The irony was not lost on me that I was leading City out in exile. I firmly back the Bring City Home campaign and hope that a solution can be found as soon as possible.

An invite from Michael Underwood, my old boxing coach, for a visit and training session at Worcester Amateur Boxing Club transpired provided an entertaining evening, where I was brutally put through the paces of a boxer’s regime. All those memories came flooding back of the time I spent as a teenager sweating it out in his gym. I was able to keep up for the most part, but my pad work lacked sting and my legs felt like tree trunks. Feeling brave I stepped into the ring with England National Youth Champion Owen Cooper for a bout. I was felled along with my ego, with a clean upper cut within 30 seconds. Thank you, Michael, for the great work you and the club do in keeping the kids off the streets, teaching them discipline and respect and providing a place for them to belong.

I end with a prayer for the victims and families of the terror that emerged in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. I stand united with many others in condemnation of the attacks and in solidarity with the people of Sri Lanka and Christians across the globe.  There are forces at work in the world that seek to divide communities, nations, races and religions and sow discord and the seed of hate amongst Humankind. We must use every opportunity we have to unite and grow stronger together and show that, despite the doom and gloom, love and good will defeat the hate and evil.

Mayor’s Week: 13 – 19 April 2019

Mayor’s Week: 13 – 19 April 2019

Another action-packed week that included a wide variety of events.  It began with the Worcester Concert Brass performing at the Guildhall along with the Phoenix Singers, in aid of the mayoral charities.  The audience was thoroughly entertained; I thank all those who performed and attended.

The annual Medical Lecture, which was originally conceived by former Mayor Dr David Tibbutt, aims to recognise, preserve and celebrate the history of medicine and the founding of the British Medical Association in the Faithful City.

We were honoured to be addressed by Dr Steven Spencer, an expert in the field of Nephrology, who gave a lecture on the History of Dialysis in the UK. The talk was both informative and interactive, and delivered in layman’s English. As you know it is a subject close to my heart, as my daughter has been diagnosed with congenital nephrotic syndrome and we hope that advances in medicine will lead to more dignified treatments and permanent cures being available to patients.  Thank you to Dr Spencer and all our doctors and NHS staff.

On Saturday shoppers and tourists in the city were lucky enough to be entertained by the Worcester Ukulele club who performed brilliantly.  They were raising money for Parkinson’s UK, a cause which was close to them as one of the lead organisers of the band had tragically suffered the loss of her husband to the disease. I made a guest appearance and enthusiastically performed to Johnny B. Goode, Blue Suede Shoes and the Jungle Book. The online video has now kind of gone viral! Over a £1,000 was raised on the day; thank you for your generous donations!


A more sombre afternoon beckoned when I joined the Worcestershire Yeomanry and the Queens very own Worcestershire Hussars for the humbling Qatia Day service at St Georges Chapel in the Cathedral. A solemn and stark reminder of the brutalities of war and that it’s not all Hollywood glamour, victory and success.  It was a moving tribute to all the brave soldiers who lost their lives or suffered the trauma of war.

I joined Kevin Powell of Worcestershire Ambassadors at New Road on Monday to the launch of ‘Worcestershire Street Sixes’ – a street cricket competition which raises money to enable people from disadvantaged backgrounds to get a chance to learn new skills and play cricket. The competition’s reigning champion is Worcester City Council and I was part of the winning team!  As they say it’s tough at the top and I am hoping that we win the trophy again for a historic third time! All those aspiring to knock us of our perch – bring it on!  We need as many teams as possible to enter; it’s fun and is open to all regardless of ability, gender or age – a truly inclusive event!