I am now two thirds of the way through my mayoral year and hoping that before my period in office is finished, I will have chance to meet more of you and hear about your lives and interests. So many of you in Worcester have shown extraordinary courage and kindness during the time since we went into our first lockdown ten months ago. There have been so many stories of people helping each other and putting their own health and wellbeing at risk to do so. To each one of you I want to say a personal thank you for your sacrifices and kindness; we all owe you a huge debt of gratitude.
Work at the City Council continues as usual; I have attended a number of Zoom meetings in the last few days. Who would have thought that we would be running our lives like this 12 months ago? Just a word to all the mums and dads who are home schooling. I know how hard it is to inspire young people to want to learn and keep them interested. Teachers go through three or four years of training to do it, and suddenly parents are expected to take over the reins as well as do their own work and run a home. It is difficult and you deserve our praise and thanks for all your efforts in doing this.
I hope you will have seen in the Worcester News that my first vaccination went very smoothly; I am pleased to say that I had no after effects. I feel that I am on the way to having the best protection I can from COVID and would urge everyone to take up the jab when it is offered. This week we passed a terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths in this country from COVID, and the only way out is through the vaccine. I try to keep positive by planning holidays for the future. It’s good fun because I haven’t set myself any limits. It certainly helps to pass a wet and cold afternoon in lockdown!
First the good news! I have been asked to attend to have my covid vaccination. This is such excellent news and I am very relieved to have received the invitation. It is a relief to know that as you read this, both Dave and I may be getting our jabs. I would urge you all to take up the offer of the vaccination when it comes to you. It is the only way out of this pandemic and to reduce the appalling number of cases of covid and deaths in our country and to save the NHS from being overwhelmed. I am extremely grateful to all NHS staff who are working over and above their normal hours to deliver this life saving vaccine.
This week I made the draw for the winner of the Big Christmas Swan Feed competition. In these troubled times it is hard to think of the protection of our animals and birds when we have so much to worry about, keeping ourselves and each other safe. However, the swan population was badly hit by avian flu a few weeks ago and I believe that 60 of them died as a result. I am pleased to report that the remaining swans in the area seem to be healthy and have settled back well into their usual feeding and resting areas. Please take time, if you can, to walk down to the river and see them and give them some much needed food. There’s lots of information on the Swan Food Project website about what to feed them. Swans bring such pleasure to passers by and are a great addition to our waterside.
I had another zoom call set up for Wednesday afternoon with Worcester Massachusetts. Their Mayor, Joe Petty, and I were set to discuss how Worcester UK can assist our Massachusetts twin town to celebrate 300 years since their founding in 1721. However, apparently something else was taking place in the USA on Wednesday and so at the last minute, the call was postponed. I can’t think what could have been so important on Wednesday to cause the last-minute cancellation of our meeting??? Can anyone help me out with this one?
I am writing this in the dark by the light of a few candles. We have had a power cut for the last hour and the power is not expected to return for a while. When one is suddenly deprived of the basic necessities of life like light and heat, we are made acutely aware of how much we take for granted. We have been told that it is down to a low voltage output, but whatever the cause the effect is the same.
I was very pleased last week, on Small Business Saturday, to be able to visit two small businesses in town to give a word of thanks and praise, and to enquire about business life during the pandemic.
The first stop off was ‘The Meeting Place’ in Friar Street; a lovely café which is obviously producing first class food judging by the smiles on the faces of the customers in the shop. This is a new business venture, only started in September, and is a real family affair. The second business was Pack-It In, located in the Shambles Market Hall. What a wonderful emporium it is. I didn’t know there were so many different sorts of pasta, cereals, herbs and spices! There’s also an array of unusual and plastic free products from around the world. I would recommend a visit to both of these unique Worcester independents.
On Wednesday I presented a cheque for £10,000 to St. Richard’s Hospice. The money was raised through the metals recycling scheme of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. I went to say thank you to the officers at Astwood Cemetery for their care and sensitivity in raising the money for such a good cause.
My light has returned!! The house is back to normal, but it has reminded me that when we think life is not treating us well, things could always be worse!
This has been a Zoom week for me. Who would have thought that a piece of software that very few people had heard of in January would be so relied on nowadays to maintain our connections with work, business and friends?
I started out on Monday with a Zoom meeting with the Trustees of the Museum of Royal Worcester. I am pleased to report that the museum is in excellent hands and this legacy of Worcester’s china making past is open and welcoming visitors; so do pay the Museum a visit and view its amazing collection.
On Wednesday I zoomed with Joe Petty – Mayor of Worcester Massachusetts. I am pleased to say that it was very positive discussion about the 300th anniversary of the founding of their city, which falls in 2022. Worcester USA is of course one of our twin towns. We agreed that we are both Mayors of wonderful cities; we plan to encourage as many organisations as we can to come together to celebrate this anniversary.
As Mayor I am also President of Worcester Twinning Association, so will be talking further to Mayor Petty in the New Year to progress these plans. If you are a member of an organisation which would like to link up with a similar one in Worcester USA, please let our local Twinning Association know. You can email them at email@example.com
My other 3 Zooms this week have been with family and friends. It is an excellent way to keep in touch.
Finally, I cannot finish without saying what a momentous step has been taken with the government’s approval of a coronavirus vaccine which can be rolled out to the most vulnerable from next week. A huge thanks to the scientists who have developed the vaccine and to the NHS staff who will now deliver it. We have lived under the threat of coronavirus for nearly a year, but now an end is in sight. Remember to stay safe, keep to the rules and all will be well.