What a whirlwind week. After a few wet days away in Lyme Regis following the recent local elections Tuesday finally arrived; a final visit with my University of the Third Age (U3A) Local History Group to Hartlebury Museum store in the morning. What a real cornucopia of exhibits stored under the ownership of the partners; everything from Street signs to baths, domestic appliances and archaeology from recent digs.
Tuesday night brought the Annual meeting of Worcester City Council. After appropriate tributes to outgoing Mayor David Tibbutt and his wife Jane, I was elected unanimously Mayor of a City which I have adopted and served for the past 35 years as a Councillor.
Feelings of humility and pride were quickly overcome as I had to chair the remaining meeting. I welcomed Pat Agar on board as Deputy Mayor, John Everest as Mayor’s Chaplain and of course Jill, my wife, as Mayoress. I am sure Pat and I will work together well, each bringing different lifetime experiences to the post.
Afterwards, there were drinks in the Mayor’s Parlour where Jill and I acted as hosts. It was great to receive the good wishes of all colleagues, representives of our charities, friends and family members. We were home just after nine, but feeling quite exhausted!
Photographs in the robes took place over several sessions. We had never realised how difficult it must be for celebrities; I just hope they get used to it, I certainly can’t.
Our first civic engagement was a trip to Bromsgove Council to attend their annual meeting and the election of Councillor Mrs Janice Boswell to the post of Civic Head. Each council is different and she didn’t have to chair their meeting of council. At the reception it was good to meet other civic leaders and learn a little about her three local charities.
Friday I had a cancellation so with a clear diary I went walking with my U3A Walking Group; they were all surprised as I had previously told them I would be an infrequent visitor. How lucky we are to have so many superb walks within close proximity to the city.
On Saturday, I had a last chance to catch up with overdue gardening and then to Droitwich Fire Station where, in the bitter cold, we attended the Passing Out parade of the young firefighters. There are two groups in Redditch and Droitwich where youngsters from 14 to 17 are able to learn about firefighting. These mixed groups undertook several interesting exercises and afterwards we were able to see them presented with annual awards.
It was great to hear of the many different interests young people have despite being weighed down with schoolwork. As a former adult social worker it was an opportunity for me to see how interesting the lives are of young people and a reminder that the problems I have witnessed are only a small part of life. Most kids lead interesting and active lives without needing the intervention of social services. I am involved within the Co-operative Foundation which tries to encourage a more balanced approach to reporting about young people thorugh the Truth About Youth programme.
As a former chairman of the council’s Housing Committee I know all too well about the shortage of accommodation for families. As Mayor I shall be supporting two local single person charities, St Paul’s Hostel and Maggs Day Centre. Both are involved in the provision of accommodation and support to single people. It is all too easy to complain about people sleeping rough without doing anything about it. I hope I will be able to shed a little light on the causes and provision of accommodation to combat homelessness.