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Category: 2018-2019 Mayor Jabba Riaz

Mayor’s Week: 18 – 24 January 2019

Mayor’s Week: 18 – 24 January 2019

Now if you didn’t think things could get more whacky after such infamous incidents as the Mystery Clown, Flamingo bombing, and the Flipping Great – all events that we have had the pleasure – or not – to have witnessed in the faithful city, then read on!

Things got really tasty over the weekend when I was invited to the inaugural Wassail at Duck Brook community orchard.  An event surely destined for the illustrious Worcester News Hall of Fame of the weird and wonderful!

Wassail, you may say?

The dictionary definition of Wassailing is:  English ritual intended to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year.

Well with intrigue and curiosity I turned up on a wet, cold, freezing Saturday evening at the former donkey sanctuary at Duck Brook, along with a number of other fanatical Wassailers.  They were keen as mustard to take part in the first Wassail the city has staged for decades. As it transpired, my initial trepidation turned into relaxation and then to sheer amazement at the events that unfolded before my eyes. Oh, how I wish the whole city were there to see this spectacle.

It was a night never to forget! It turned out to be a quintessentially quirky, eccentrically English custom, that was executed in a monty pythonesque and Fawlty Towers- like manner.

We had zealous morris dancers performing frantically, the public chasing away spirits in a fire lantern procession, followed by a trio of poems sung to disband demons, which then flowed naturally as you would expect into hanging toast on a tree.  The piece de resistance was a completely bonkers short play that depicted a Norman King killing a Saracen, the dead Saracen then rising like a phoenix from its ashes to emerge as Santa Claus. (Historians, please take this with a pinch of salt; revisionists wallow in your butchering!)

We do things well in Worcester and always add our own special touch.  Well done to the organisers for pulling off one of the most extraordinary events this city has seen – long may it live!

Next year’s Wassail is likely to draw Glastonbury-proportioned crowds, so get it in your diaries now!  It was a great evening to cheer up a wet, miserable and cold January. Stay safe and have a great weekend!

Mayor’s Week: 11 – 17 January 2019

Mayor’s Week: 11 – 17 January 2019

You may be pleased to note that true to my word, I joined over 700 runners for my first 5k Park Run last Saturday, which I completed in a respectable time of 28 minutes and 22 seconds.  My sights are set on bigger and better goals, with one eye on the Worcester City Half Marathon in September – watch this space!

Last week I launched the Talk to Me Worcester campaign.  The concept behind this campaign is really simple; I am trying to encourage local people to create some opportunities to bring people together to talk and have some fun, It could be a really small action like inviting a neighbour or two round for a coffee – or maybe organising a lunch or games afternoon for people in your neighbourhood. By taking a little more time for conversation with others, we can build stronger and more resilient communities in Worcester and enhance the well-being of individuals and families. I am pleased to say I have had a very positive response so far! Please do get in touch if you have any ideas.

It is always good to recognise residents who go above and beyond the call of duty, in the background and unnoticed. Hundreds of these heroes in our city go under the radar, often performing the thankless tasks that others shy away from or are unable to commit to. One such person I had the privilege to meet was Allan Poyner of the Royal British Legion, at a surprise party held in his honour on Saturday in Claines.

Allan has served the Legion selflessly for over a decade and has overseen numerous Poppy Appeals and events over the years. The crowning glory were the events held last year to mark the centenary of WW1 and in particular, Remembrance Day where thousands of people saw the Legion and the Worcestershire regiments parade along the High Street.  Allan steps down from his position this year, but will still be involved in the background. Allan – the City and I salute you for your service and dedication to the cause.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend, spare a thought for all the volunteers and unsung heroes that keep the wheels turning in the city.  Following in the footsteps of my predecessor, former Mayor Steve MacKay whose mayoral theme was dedicated to honouring volunteers, I would like to take this opportunity to recognise and thank you all.

Mayor’s Week: 11 – 16 January 2019

Mayor’s Week: 11 – 16 January 2019

On Saturday I opened the 400th Park Run up at the Worcestershire Countryside Park. Nearly 700 runners turned up, of all shapes and sizes – as well as some veterans and plenty of newbies.

We had runners who ran with their dogs, runners running with their children in buggies and also runners who were partially sighted. Congratulations to Cllr Neil Laurenson for doing his fellow councillors proud and coming first in the run!

Anyway I have always hated running with a vengeance – I was always the one that forgot his towel, or was mysteriously sick on cross country days at school! When I was forced to run, I took short cuts and on several occasions, ended up coming in before the best runners or the teachers!!

I decided last year as a resolution to start getting over this dislike of running and challenge myself. So in December I started with treadmill running and slowly but surely I have managed to regularly do a distance of around 10k, six weeks in to my training regime.

I’m yet to make the transition to road or trail running, but today by the time you read this article, I will have hopefully completed my first Park Run!

Park Run is for everyone, including walkers.  There are groups for slower joggers too and pacers are ready to help you, whatever stage or level you are at.  Incredibly all of this is run by volunteers! It is truly a great spectacle – Park Run is one big family and a true representation of community spirit.  Everyone’s welcome and it’s totally free!  Two Park Runs take place in Worcester every week – one at Pitchcroft and one at the Worcestershire Countryside Park.

It’s the small victories along the way that make it worthwhile on the road to your ultimate goal.  I hope that you can also find some inspiration and challenge yourself this year to accomplish something that you may never have thought possible, take up a new hobby, or simply become a better version of yourself.

I hope you have a great weekend and year.


Mayor’s Week: 4 – 10 January 2019

Mayor’s Week: 4 – 10 January 2019

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year and a successful and prosperous one at that.

As we all settle back into our normal routines and reflect on the coming year many of us will be setting some goals and targets for the next 12 months, whether they be financial, health-related or ethical. So I am going to set some of my own for the remainder of my mayoral year – but it’s not going to be easy and I am asking for all of the city of Worcester to pitch in and support me!

This year as a target I want Worcester to remain one of the safest cities in the UK. I want our city to be the happiest, one of the best in terms of quality of life and certainly one of the most polite and welcoming.

With figures released this week showing a rise in hate crimes in the country, it is even more important that my message of Love Not Hate gets through to all.

We are a beautiful multicultural city that is world-renowned for being one of the most peaceful and harmonious places to live. We cannot let those that seek to wreak havoc and preach the ugliness of divisive rhetoric destroy us or divide us. We must stand united against all forms of prejudice and racism. We must seek to understand our differences and work constructively with all communities to fully utilise the great potential of the people of this city to grow and continually make Worcester a better place to live.

That is why this year I am launching, in conjunction with other agencies, a campaign called Talk To Me Worcester, to combat this rise in racism and hate crime.

The aim of this initiative is uniting our great city and increasing peace, love and understanding among us.

The launch of the initiative is next week, and the main objectives are to bring people together through the power of conversation, promoting friendship and neighbourliness through positive activities. The campaign will also aim to create safe and inclusive spaces to meet and welcome new arrivals to the city.