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Category: 2020 – 2021 Mayor Jo Hodges

Mayor’s Week: 20 – 27 November 2020

Mayor’s Week: 20 – 27 November 2020

As I write this, the new tier levels have just been announced telling us what we can and can’t do in each region over the next two weeks.  Here in Worcestershire, we are in tier two.  It is good news however, that for the five days over the Christmas period we can meet with loved ones from two other households to celebrate the festive season.  That, together with news of the effective vaccines which should be rolled out soon, are things to be cheerful about.  We can look forward to better days in the not too distant future.

I can quite confidently say that the swans at South Quay didn’t care what tier we were in when I went to feed them this week at the launch of this year’s Big Christmas Swan Feed.  They are the most beautiful birds, and there is a knack to feeding them to stop the greedy gulls and pigeons stealing their food.  You have to make sure their necks are up so they are ready for the food and then throw it carefully into their midst so they get it before the other birds steal it.

I was giving them Ark Wildlife floating swan pellets which are available from several local retailers – but can also be bought more cheaply in 15kg sacks.  This festive feeding is being spread over a month.  We’d love you to take a photo of yourself feeding the swans and send it via Facebook (The Swan Food Project) or WhatsApp – or email

Everyone will be entered into a draw and the winner will receive a sack of floating pellets.

I hope you all remembered to wear your white ribbons on Wednesday to mark White Ribbon Day.  This will be followed by 16 days of action across the UK, in a bid to raise awareness and to end domestic violence against women.  If you missed the day itself, it is not too late to stand up for this cause which has sadly increased during the period of lockdown.  You can find out more at

Mayor’s Week: 7 – 13 November 2020

Mayor’s Week: 7 – 13 November 2020

I hope everyone managed to carry out their own act of Remembrance last Sunday in spite of the restrictions we find ourselves under.  Dave and I stood in our garden and observed the two minutes silence and watched the Cathedral Service on Facebook.  The whole service had been recorded before we went into lockdown, so there was no breaking of the rules.  I would like to thank the Cathedral and Michael Brierley especially for putting together the service and enabling us all to remember our brave men and women from the Army, Navy and Air Force – and other services whose sacrifices have enabled us to live the lives we do today.

Dave, Rob and I took a wreath to St. John’s cemetery on Sunday afternoon and laid it on the grave of the Rev. Studdert Kennedy, fondly remembered as “Woodbine Willie”.  He was a WW1 Chaplain who whilst delivering bibles to the troops in the trenches, never forgot that they also needed more worldly things like cigarettes to help them get through the horrors of the fighting.

On Armistice Day I stood in the Guildhall forecourt with Rob, my mayoral officer, Gareth from the Guildhall team and Dave, my consort.  We observed the two minutes silence for the fallen.  Rob spoke the famous words from Laurence Binyon’s poem “For the Fallen”.  We will Remember Them.

It never fails to amaze me how resilient people are and how they can carry on even when life is made so difficult.  Dave and I had cause to visit the hospital in Worcester this week.  Nothing serious and so we were very minor patients – but I would like to give praise and thanks to the doctors, nurses and many others working in the hospital.

They made us feel that the NHS is carrying on regardless of the fact that people are dying and the numbers entering hospital with serious conditions are larger than even a bad winter brings.  My thanks and gratitude to all our health professionals and care workers for looking after us in times of ill health and stress – please remember to look after yourselves too.  Stay safe.



Mayor’s Week: 30 October – 6 November 2020

Mayor’s Week: 30 October – 6 November 2020

Here we are in lockdown again.  After enjoying relative freedoms during the summer and early autumn we are once again being asked to restrict our activities and stay indoors, with the exception of certain exemptions.  I expect you, like me, are feeling that it is harder this time round but we must follow this advice if we are to get a hold of the virus and stop it running wild and overwhelming our hospitals and NHS.

Like you, I am disappointed and very sad that the Act of Remembrance on Sunday must be done in our own homes or gardens or on our doorstep, and not as a collective act with parades and wreath laying.  I have recorded the laying of my wreath in the Cathedral on behalf of the people of Worcester and I would urge you to watch the service being live streamed on Sunday.   The important and poignant 2 minutes at 11.00am on Sunday, when we stop our busy lives and remember those whose sacrifices have enabled us to enjoy our freedom, is very important to all of us – especially our veterans.  My deepest thanks go to all our service men and women past and present who have served in the defence of our country.

As Mayor, I was pleased to be able to lay a wreath on the memorial at Gheluvelt Park on Sunday 25th October, to commemorate the achievements of the men of the 2nd Battalion Worcestershire Regiment at the Battle of Gheluvelt.  Those brave soldiers saved Ypres from capture and the British Army from defeat in 1914.  34 of them made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives.

I enjoyed a few days away before lockdown was introduced and since returning, I was pleased to be part of the unveiling of the Worcester Life Stories Art Exhibition at the end of the Shambles.  We have taken advantage of the scaffolding on St. Swithun’s Church, and with the consent of the Churches Conservation Trust we have hung there pictures of the Shambles from the 1950s to 70s.   There is also a YouTube video here where you to see more images and enjoy past memories of this wonderful part of the city.

Please observe the rules which we will all be under for the next four weeks to protect yourself and others.  Hopefully we will then be able to enjoy a more relaxed Christmas period with family and friends.

Mayor’s Week: 10 – 16 October 2020

Mayor’s Week: 10 – 16 October 2020

I was very pleased to be able to follow up my launch of Black History Month with a visit to Worcester University this week to see a display showing significant achievements of black people throughout history.   Thank you to the students for inviting me and allowing me to be part of this very worthwhile venture.

On Wednesday I was invited to take part in a new initiative created by the Vamos theatre company.  Vamos is a unique company who perform in full face masks and have been commended for their excellence and skill.  Inspired by the success of the Thursday clapping for NHS workers, they are initiating the Wednesday Wave when we are all encouraged to wave to someone who is alone and isolated in a care home or in their own home, to let them know they have not been forgotten and that we do care.  What a wonderful idea – I felt privileged to be part of the first Wednesday Wave this week.

I was very keen to hear from Sheena Payne-Lunn and Natasha Lord on Thursday about the Worcester Life Stories project.  This is an online platform which allows Worcester residents to describe their own life stories in words, photos and videos and is particularly enjoyable for those who can remember Worcester as it was many years ago, and who want to share that knowledge.  Please have a look at Worcester Life Stories web page ( and see for yourself what a rich and diverse history Worcester has.

I hope you have spotted the fantastic pieces of artwork in the empty shop windows that I wrote about last week.   It is so uplifting to see the beautiful designs and pictures as we go about the town.  Congratulations and thanks to all those artists who created the pictures.

As coronavirus cases continue to rise, please take care of yourselves and others around you.  Keep to the rules to keep safe.