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Category: 2019-2020 Mayor Allah Ditta

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 February 2020

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 February 2020

I’m fascinated to read that Chicken Tikka Masala is officially England’s favourite dish.  Funny that, as I’m not really into spicy dishes and mine is fish ’n’ chips – which is fortunate as that’s just what was served-up at three official functions in the past week!

One was at Kidderminster Mayor Cllr David Ross’ Charity Quiz Night last Thursday when ‘The Chain Gang’ – Chairman of the County Council Peter Tomlinson, Droitwich mayor William Moy and I – muddled-through to come fifth out of twelve teams.  It also proved much the same story the following night at Chairman of Malvern DC Cllr Dean Clarke’s Charity Beetle Drive at Hallow.

No surprise, then, that Sunday saw me breathless – not as the unhealthy result of culinary piscatorial over-indulgence, but by the sheer power, colour and energy of the Chinese New Year celebrations.  People talk about Worcester’s diversity and inclusivity and this was a perfect example.  Sheer magic, my hat duly taken off to every performer, no-one excluded.

However fish ’n’ chips wasn’t on the menu when I called in to the Anarkali Restaurant, now re-vamped and re-vitalised and given a 4* hygiene rating after a lapse of attention last year.

This was followed by a meeting with Rinku Khan, whose Step by Step Recruitment firm aims to provide a pathway to employment for more Asian people.  Finally, a tour of the newly refurbished Anbrian House in The Tything all highlighted significant improvements.

I’m also liking the sound of a new community engagement group, Make Time for Friendship, headed by Jenny Manchester who called into the Parlour for a chat about future plans on Thursday, while Worcestershire Ambassadors – an organisation of which I was a founder member – will, I don’t doubt, go from strength to strength under its new Chairman Julia Williams.

I was left breathless once again at the Swan Theatre, for Kay’s Theatre Group’s 66th pantomime ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates’.  Although I’d already had a sneak preview some weeks ago, I was still not quite prepared for the utter brilliance of the finished – and very polished – final show.  ‘Amazing’ fails to do it justice.

Mayor’s Week – 26 – 31 January 2020

Mayor’s Week – 26 – 31 January 2020

I’m sure it’s not just me that’s being affected by this dull, depressing January and all its attendant bad news, and as weeks go, this has been something of a roller-coaster – up one minute, down the next.

But at least, it has seen some heartening events and with them, the promise of brighter things to come here in the fairest City in the land!

One such is the Worcester City Run to be held in September.  The ball was set in motion on Friday when athletics legend and chief-mover, Olympian Steve Cram, visited for the launch of the seventh run and call for runners to take part.  ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it!’, as someone more eloquent than me once put it.

Part of the launch had been a drum-beating photoshoot on board a dragon-boat opposite the Cathedral, and drums were also well to the fore at the second event of the day.  This was Bewdley Mayor Cllr John Byng’s Youth Music Showcase, a fundraising event featuring some staggering performances from schools and colleges that made three hours pass by in what felt like minutes. Thoroughly enjoyable entertainment and a good sum raised for his charities, I’m hearing.

Another three hours were pleasurably spent the next day when twenty potential Army Reserve Officers and four directing staff from 214 Battery Royal Artillery dropped into the Parlour as part of the Regiment’s ‘Exercise Cultural Dragon’ – exposure to all aspects of British culture rightly considered a key element in every potential officer’s development.

Continuing the Army theme, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Monday rendered me speechless and drained of all emotions.  90 year-old survivor Mindu Hornick gave a moving account and made a deep impression on the entire Guildhall audience, not a soul left untouched by what they’d heard.  I can think of no greater cause than to keep reminding people, the younger generations particularly, about the dangers arising from the universal disgrace of intolerance – Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism in particular.  In that, the event succeeded admirably.

Next week: more good news about fundraising events for my various charities.

Mayor’s Week: 18 – 25 January 2020

Mayor’s Week: 18 – 25 January 2020

I’m struggling to find words to do full justice to Light Night Worcester – the celebration of light that gave a new brilliance to the city centre last Thursday.  Awesome… brilliant… spectacular… and that’s just for starters!

Photo: Tom Parkes
That the rain failed to put a dampener on the thousands who came to watch and who, I don’t doubt for one minute, came away as impressed as I was, shows there’s an appetite for just such a move and I’ll be watching with interest to see how it develops.  Severn Arts, you’ve pulled it off yet again!

Two unaccustomed event-free days permitted the opportunity for me to recharge the batteries ahead of a hectic Sunday that began with a fundraising event staged by the International Welfare Society. A clash in the timetable left me disappointed that I could spend only limited time there, before a mad dash to Perdiswell Young People’s Leisure Club for a sneak preview of Kays Theatre Group’s newest panto ‘Robinson Crusoe and the Pirates’.  Take it from me, Swan Theatre-goers between 30th January and 9th February are in for a major treat – oh yes, they are!

I’m struggling again to avoid groan-worthy phrases like ‘bang on target’ or ‘all of a quiver’ for the third highlight of the day, Droitwich Archery Society’s World Record Status Combined Tournament in the RGS’ Tom Savage Hall.  The archers made me ‘Lord Paramount’ to present a vast array of prizes to bowmen (and women) from all over the Midlands.  An impressive display, right off the top flight… I know, groan, groan!

This being The Year of The Rat, Worcester Chinese Association’s New Year celebration in the Guildhall on February 2 is on course to be yet another spectacular event. The Association’s founder and chairman Frankie Tsang told me so on Tuesday, and he’s a man of his word!



Mayor’s Week: 11 – 17 January 2020

Mayor’s Week: 11 – 17 January 2020

Talking’s good.  It’s something I do rather a lot in my role as mayor, as a councillor, and as an individual, so any initiative that sets out to promote friendship and neighbourliness through the power of conversation gets my support for sure.  ‘Talk to me Worcester’ a lively community campaign that I was honoured to help launch at the beginning of the week.

Alas, the joy of being mayor is inevitably tinged with the less uplifting duties.  I was immensely moved this week by the funeral of the wife of my Stourport counterpart, the hardworking and very likeable mayor Ken Henderson.  That Lin died while still in service as mayoress added a poignancy to the service and my thoughts remain with Ken, his family and the people of Stourport for their loss.

My sagging spirits were lifted later that day with a look at the wonders of Croome Court for the launch of Chris Oxlade-Arnott’s uplifting exhibition Acorn to Oak, while a rare appointments-free weekend permitted me some welcome reflective Me-Time.

Oh… and talking of initiatives that bring people together, I can think of none better than the Lottery-funded ‘Best of Worcester Awards’.  We are looking for nominations to find that one very special Worcester person who went the extra mile for their community. Organiser Keith Slater and I spent the better part of a day dotting ‘i’s and crossing ‘t’s for the awards ceremony on April 2nd, right down to the music, due to be performed by students at Tudor Grange High School. It’s going to be good!

As for Wednesday this week, I don’t think the Mayor’s Parlour has ever been quite so animated as when I was besieged – in the nicest possible way, of course – by a very large group of beautifully-mannered Chinese students who kept me so busy answering their questions that I had no time to ask any of my own!

In all, a week of mostly highs, topped-off with the spectacular Worcester Light Night show – of which more next week!