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Category: 2018-2019 Mayor Jabba Riaz

Mayor’s Week: 14 – 21 December 2018

Mayor’s Week: 14 – 21 December 2018

I would like to take this opportunity to deliver my Christmas message to this wonderful city.

I always welcome visitors and audiences by stating that we are blessed to live in a beautiful place like Worcester – one of the best in terms of quality of life; one of the safest cities in the UK; one of the happiest and definitely one of the most polite.

We have had a brilliant year with so much going on: the OVO Women’s Tour, the fantastic Worcester Festival, The Worcester Stands Tall giraffes, the awarding of the posthumous Freedom of the City to Basil D’Oliviera and the brilliant Worcestershire Rapids victory in the T20 Vitality Blast trophy!


We also mustn’t forget the enchanting Victorian Xmas Fayre – nor the thousands lining the street for Remembrance Day, commemorating the fallen men, women, children and animals from across the world who have died in wars.

The summer saw hundreds march in harmony through the streets, under my banner of Love not Hate.  They stood up to all those that seek to divide us: a moment to savour and cherish.

Economically, Worcester has punched above its weight this year.  Footfall to the city centre has increased over 2017, and growth in the independent retail sector has been particularly pleasing.

Despite our strong performance as a city, we still have our underlying issues. Air quality, congestion, rough sleeping, homelessness and the need to create more opportunities for our young are all key areas which we must challenge ourselves to improve in, if we are to redress the imbalances that exist in our society.

So as we race into seasonal festivities, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the residents of Worcester a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.  Please stay safe, think about your neighbours and those who will not be able to enjoy the holiday period in the same way as you and I.  I urge you to spread my message of love not hate, so that we can continue to lead the way as a brilliant faithful city which is admired across the UK and the world.


Mayor’s Week: 7 – 13 December 2018

Mayor’s Week: 7 – 13 December 2018

The weekend started with an evening at the Guildhall to recognise the achievements of City Council staff over the year.  Originally named as the WOSCARS, it celebrates the hard working and dedicated staff and front line teams who keep our services running. It was a real opportunity for the unsung heroes to be acknowledged.

Saturday saw the annual Christmas Peace and Friendship party at St Martin’s Church on London Road, where we welcomed members from across the community to share food, laughter and the chance to make new friends. Thank you to the residents, Church parishioners, the Rotary Club and Worcester Muslim Welfare Association for making it another successful event, helping to spread peace, joy and harmony.

Later in the afternoon I got to enjoy the company of St Paul’s Church congregation for their Christmas Dinner. I spoke with many of them individually afterwards to thank them for the wonderful work they do in the community.

Monday saw two carol services – both equally as enjoyable. The Chairman of the County Council, Brandon Clayton, invited me up to County Hall for his annual Christmas Service.  Later in the evening I went off to the Cathedral again for a service which was packed to the rafters with Scouts, Cubs and Beavers.

I got the chance of ticking another item off my bucket list on Tuesday, when I was invited to be Santa for the day and bring some festive cheer to city residents. Although I didn’t quite get the Reindeer or the Elves to support me (or a Flying Sleigh), I managed to cheer up a few children with my dabbing, flossing and very poor dancing moves (just trying to bring Santa into the 21st century!)

Having the chance to witness children from RGS Worcester at their Star Search Final was an experience I will not forget. This internal talent show, loosely based on Britain’s Got Talent, saw 15 acts perform in front of a crowd of about 150. Each act unique and equally impressive! Well done to all who took part – I look forward to future stars in the coming years!

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 December 2018

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 December 2018

Last weekend was the busiest for the city this year, with approximately 150,000 visitors arriving in Worcester’s centre.

Officers and agencies pulled out all the stops to fulfil this complex logistical challenge and to keep everything running smoothly: a heartfelt thank you to all those who helped to stage another hugely successful Victorian Fayre.

The weekend also saw the annual Small Business Saturday event take place. The location this year was Lowesmoor, just off the main shopping thoroughfare from the city centre. It’s a thriving and bustling area, with the majority of retailers there being independents. We talked to Maz, the owner of The Bakehouse, who in his early days when setting up worked up to 20 hours a day.  He bakes the most amazing bread and pastries (over 50 varieties I was told) all with equal love, care and attention to detail.  This effort certainly shows; his products are works of art!

Over 60% of Worcester’s businesses are independents.  They are the life and soul of this City, without which we would be much poorer both in culture and identity.  Please, please support them.

This week I enjoyed my first Christmas lunch! This was experienced in the magnificent Guildhall, where I welcomed senior citizens from across the city.  The Worcester Community Trust, one of my designated charities, organised a brilliant event which gave many the opportunity to dine in the majestic Assembly Room for the first time. The atmosphere and goodwill in the room were evident, and a joy to behold.

Along with Xmas lunches come nativity plays.  An entertaining one was provided by the Pre prep children at Kings St Albans, who presented a thoroughly enjoyable and well presented play, through which the Christmas message shone through clearly.  It really does amaze me that children can perform with such confidence at a young age.

I also had the opportunity to enjoy a Caribbean themed event in aid of charities supported by the Chairman of Bromsgrove, Caroline Spencer. It was a fantastic night, that ended up with the Chain Posse in a Limbo dance-off.  It wasn’t pretty, but the atmosphere was hot, hot, hot! This was in stark contrast to the weather outside.  A little bit of Barbados, in Bromsgrove; if only!

Mayor’s Week: 24 – 30 November 2018

Mayor’s Week: 24 – 30 November 2018

I would like to thank the thousands of people who turned out for the official Christmas lights switch on last week – and also the BBC H&W Radio team for making the event extremely special. Cathedral Square is fast becoming the destination of choice for such events – it is proving a great investment for the City.

My consort for the day was Luca Wooding, from Regency High School.  He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was proud to be the local celebrity as we jointly switched on the lights!

This week I was kindly invited by the Worcester Muslim Welfare Association to Unity House, to see how the services they provide are benefitting the community. The Women’s Group, which encourages women of all ages to participate in activities that improve mental health such as exercise, arts and crafts, was a highlight.  Keep up the good work!

On a sombre note, I attended the funeral of local political legend Geoff Williams in a packed service at Astwood Cemetery. Geoff was a man of great principle and intelligence, who served this city selflessly.  He was awarded the Freeman of the City only last month and will soon be honoured in a ceremony to mark his contribution to the city.

The service programme at the funeral left us with a quote from the great Ralph Waldo Emerson to reflect upon:

“What is success?

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

We have a proud tradition in the city of welcoming people and going out of our way to help those in need. So please carry on that tradition and spread the message of peace.  Look out for those that need help, so that everyone’s Christmas can be full of joy and happiness.