Monday 12th: Worcester is blessed by having many excellent eating places. The new Balti Mahal Restaurant, in Astwood Road, that I helped to open today is another and I am sure will be welcome in that part of the City.
Home-Start Worcester & Wychavon is a charity registered in 1984. Jane and I attended the AGM this evening in the Chapel of Berkeley’s Hospital. It is yet another valuable organization “in which volunteers offer support, friendship and practical help to young families under stress in their own homes helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown, and emphasizing the pleasures of family life”. At this AGM we heard a talk given by Emma Jordan (Worcestershire PCT Team Leader for Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Services) and Ann Lonbay (Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) Needs Pathway Project Manager) about their work. It was astonishing to learn that in excess of 50% of all school children have SLC problems: this leads to increased risk of later unemployment and crime among other affects on life. For more information see the “Worcestershire SLCN Pathway”
Tuesday 13th: No Mayoral engagements today. I spent the morning and afternoon on the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee cross Party panel gathering information from residents about their car parking concerns. It is a huge problem for many but I do hope we do not raise expectations for rapid solutions. The evening was taken up by attending the Scrutiny Committee itself.
Wednesday 14th: A day of anticipation waiting for the post to arrive. But at last I found that all six members of our Worcester City team going to the Adentan Municipal Assembly in Ghana on Saturday have received their visas. This means that the Local Economic Development project (financed through the DfID) will progress adding to the successes of this last year.
The long established firm of solicitors, “Harrison Clark”, held its annual summer “garden” party and celebration in the Assembly Room of the Guildhall this evening. It is not often that Jane and I have the opportunity to meet so many legal professionals!!
Thursday 15th: The day began with a meeting at 9am with the team going to Adentan on Saturday. Everything is now settled: it’s going to be an interesting week helping with the development of the “Adentan News”, the setting up of a “Federation of Businesses”, a course on business management and assistance with a local “Master Plan”.
10am: A meeting with representatives of Noah’s Ark to continue the planning of the fund-raising event in May 2012: a joint venture with the University Business School.
Noon: I “received” the keys of the new minibus acquired by “Worcester Wheels” run by the Worcester Volunteer Centre. This is such a valuable community transport service ably run by Sally Ellison, Hedley Burton and their team.
A quick dash back to the Guildhall for 1pm to welcome 27 American students, from the University of Minnesota Duluth, who are at the University of Worcester on a one year “Study in England Programme”. It is always pleasing to see how thrilled they are with all that they are shown on a tour of the Guildhall. I was fascinated by a comment written by one in my Visitors’ Book: “America!! But England is better”. I told them of the visit, in 1786, by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (who became the second and third presidents respectively of the USA) to Fort Royal Hill and their disappointment of the locals’ lack of knowledge of the Battle of Worcester in 1651: “And do Englishmen so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for?” The students are now determined to climb the Hill.
Friday 16th: At 9.30am. I saw off the City Council’s team of six to Adentan in Ghana. We wish them a safe flight and look forward to their report on return.
A fund-raising coffee morning in Kerswell Green at 10.30am. before going to Warndon Community Centre for the annual Onam Festival. This is an ancient tradition and the biggest and most important festival of the State of Kerala in south-west India. The Kerala community of Worcester (about 250) celebrate this festival for ten days during the Malaylee month called Chingam (our August – September). It also marks the annual visit of the historic King Mahabali, is a time of thanksgiving for the harvest, a coming together of families, friends and peoples of all communities and new clothes (Onakkodi) and games for the children. A central feature is the nine course meal called Onasadya. Jane and I were privileged to be invited to this celebration day of Thiruvonam and enjoy the ceremony and wonderful vegetarian food
“Transition Worcester”, with other Transition Groups in Evesham, Malvern and Pershore, held a conference and exhibition in the Guildhall: “Powering the future: towards sustainable energy”. I was pleased to address briefly the conference at the beginning of the afternoon session. This is an important subject: even if you do not believe in climate change and its effects (and I do believe in them!!) everyone must surely understand that carbon-based energy is finite, discoveries of oil are getting less, prices are rising and at a time when personal money is stretched. So whatever we can do to reduce our consumption must be wise.
Saturday 17th: The Friends of the Swan Theatre presented their sixth annual Variety Show this evening. It was fantastic and included Barry North, Laura Synuck, Sue Black, Academy Dance, Sean McMahon Irish Dancers, Dentith and Price and the Ladies and Gentlemen Ensemble. It was a sell-out. Great fun and great entertainment. “Thank you” to Paul Parker, the Show Producer, and the performers who gave their time freely. The funds raised for the Swan are so vital.
Sunday 18th: One of the special pleasures of being Mayor is going to civic services of neighbouring towns and district councils. Today Jane I attended the Civic Service of Bromsgrove District Council held at The Parish Church of All Saints’. It was conducted by The Rev. Bev Robertson.