Last Sunday the Mayoress and I attended the Remembrance Service at Astwood Cemetery. This is an annual ceremony held a week after Remembrance Sunday to specially commemorate those who lost their lives in conflict and are in buried in the War Graves section at the cemetery. The event was organised by the local Royal British Legion, with the Worcester Sea Cadets taking part. Crosses were placed on individual graves, including Polish, Czech, and German servicemen who had lost their lives. I also laid a wreath at the small war memorial positioned close to the Astwood Road exit.
On Monday Paul Harding from Discover History, who played the role of Edward Hurdman (the first mayor of Worcester), joined me to officially unveil a blue plaque in his memory at the entrance to All Saints Church. This is the final resting place of Edward Hurdman and is also opposite the location where he resided as Mayor.
On Thursday I attended the White Ribbon Launch. White Ribbon UK is the leading charity engaging with men and boys to end violence against women. This is the start of 16 days of action to raise awareness to prevent violence before it starts. The event at Warndon Community Centre included stands from various agencies and charities from Worcestershire and the wider West Mercia Region promoting the various services they offer to either prevent violence from happening or help those who have suffered. At the event I signed the pledge to support ‘Time to Change Worcestershire,’ to change negative attitudes and behaviours towards mental health.
The White Ribbon event was organised by Ann Nicholls and her team from Worcester City Council, with the launch event chaired by Ruth Heywood from Worcester Community Trust. The launch event included a question and answer session from County Council’s Paul Kinsella and a short video was shown of a local woman who had experienced domestic violence that was both moving and inspiring.
Last Sunday the city, county and nation were able to gather in large numbers to commemorate the fallen in wars and conflicts. As Mayor, one of the greatest honours and duties is to lay a wreath at the War Memorial outside the Cathedral and join in the thousands who gather for the moving ceremony.
Before the outside public service, another is held in the Cathedral. I laid a wreath in St. George’s Chapel, as did the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Brigadier Roger Brunt CBE DL and other senior military officers. After both services the Vice Lord-Lieutenant and I took the salute as uniformed organisations both military and non-military marched past.
In the afternoon a small ceremony was held at St. John’s Cemetery at the grave of Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy MC, known to many simply as “Woodbine Willie”. He was the vicar of St. Pauls, Worcester and served as an army chaplain as well as being a war poet. The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Adrian Gregson read out one of his poems. After laying a wreath I said a few words about how he inspired my father, who like Studdert Kennedy, was a socialist cleric and devoted his ministry to serving the impoverished.
On Thursday I was delighted to attend the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service Worcestershire’s awards at the Guildhall. The medals and awards were presented by Fire Authority chairman Councillor Kit Taylor, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Worcestershire, Brigadier Roger Brunt CBE DL, the High Sheriff of Herefordshire Richard Amphlett and Chief Fire Officer Jon Pryce.
On Friday lunchtime I joined members of the Worcester Ukulele Club, who were raising funds for Children in Need in Crowngate shopping centre. The BBC fundraising campaign has been running since 1927 and as a Friday night telethon since 1980. It has benefitted countless numbers of children in Worcester over the years.
Last Saturday afternoon the mayoress and I attended the Royal Life Saving Society Honours presentation in the Cathedral. These are national awards, and recipients had travelled from as far as the Republic of Ireland and Northern Scotland to attend.
In the evening the Worcestershire Symphony Orchestra held their first concert since the Covid pandemic began, at St. Martin’s Church. The mayoress and I were treated to Dvorak’s Carnival Overture, Beethoven’s Triple Concerto (featuring solo performances by Svetlana Mochalova (Cello), Anne Bolt (Piano) and Martin Cropper (Violin)), and Elgar’s Symphony No. 1.
On Sunday I travelled to Redditch to attend the Borough’s Civic Service. The Mayor Councillor Gareth Prosser’s talented granddaughter performed an excerpt from Roland Dahl’s Matilda, who she is currently playing in the stage musical.
Thursday was Armistice Day. I joined the ceremony at the War Memorial outside the Cathedral and laid a wreath on behalf of the City of Worcester. In the afternoon I attended an honours presentation in the Guildhall. The presentation was by the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Brigadier Roger Brunt CBE to Richard John Campbell, who received an MBE. British Empire Medals were also presented to Tonia Enderbury, the Chief Officer of Droitwich CVS and Craig Browne, vice-chairman of Droitwich Rugby Club.
On Friday afternoon the mayoress and I went to Sixways to attend the Cecil Duckworth Memorial Lunch. Back in 2009 when my wife was mayor, he was granted Freedom of the City of Worcester.
Finally, on the Friday evening we went to Worcester Sixth Form College to see their dazzling production of Chicago.
As we enter November, during the early part of this month we focus on remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our freedoms. We also recognise and celebrate those who have gained their academic and vocational qualifications.
On Sunday the mayoress and I joined other dignitaries in Gheluvelt Park for the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regimental Association Service. The service was conducted by Rev Colin Butler and wreaths were laid at the memorial. Afterwards I joined members of the Regimental Association at Barbourne Ex-Servicemen’s Club.
On Monday I was at the University of Worcester Graduation Dinner in the Worcester Arena. It was a fantastic occasion – especially for the graduates from 2020 and 2021 at the dinner. I was seated next to Christopher Burdon, who was awarded a University Fellowship at the Graduation Ceremony in the Cathedral the following day.
It was a privilege to attend the following morning’s graduation ceremony and see the many nursing graduates receive their degrees. The University Chancellor HRH The Duke of Gloucester was in attendance and in my capacity as Mayor, I was honoured to be seated next to him on the platform. Before the graduation ceremony we were given a tour of the newly opened Undercroft at the Cathedral; this space is already proving its worth for educational and cultural activities.
On Wednesday it was time to recognise the achievements of apprentices across Herefordshire and Worcestershire at the Annual Apprentice Awards Evening at Sixways Stadium. Certificates were presented to apprentices in Commerce and Engineering, with special awards for those with outstanding performance. Due to Covid restrictions last year awards for both 2020 and 2021 were given out.
Finally, as I mentioned in my column last week, Worcester has just hosted the Elgar Festival. On Saturday the mayoress and I attended the Gala Concert in the Cathedral and heard a fantastic rendition of Elgar’s Enigma Variations performed by the Worcestershire based English Symphony Orchestra.