My election as mayor at the annual City Council meeting was an emotional event. It is a great honour, a daunting prospect and a relief from the uncertainty of not knowing whether I would be elected but, most of all, I felt the humility which comes from knowing that I am expected to serve our great city to the best of my ability.
My predecessor, Roger Knight, has been an excellent mayor who restored dignity and integrity to this important role, which I intend to continue.
My theme for the year is “No community left behind” and I want the many disadvantaged people living in Worcester to know that I am on their side. I have cancelled the civic banquet because I do not feel it is right to spend your taxes feeding already privileged people, especially when many others rely on food banks. Instead, I will be inviting the under-privileged to events later in the year.
My charities this year are Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and YHA Breaks for Kids. The life-saving air ambulance service depends entirely on charity and gets no government funding. The Youth Hostels Association is a charity which provides adventurous educational trips, staying at youth hostels. I plan to raise money so that youngsters from low-income Worcester families can benefit from these wonderful opportunities.
On Friday, the mayoress and I were honoured to be presented to The Countess of Wessex at the celebration of New College Worcester’s first 150 years. This national centre of excellence for blind and partially-sighted students began in The Commandery in 1866. Talented students sang and played the piano for the Countess, who responded by talking to as many as she could before heading off to celebrate 25 years of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.
Our next engagement was at Bosch Worcester Heat Systems for the launch of the South Midlands Branch of the Institute of Safety & Health. Whilst some question the need for laws and rules on health and safety, these are vitally important. Every year, people suffer accidents and ill-health at work – most of which could be avoided. We need knowledgeable experts to train other workers, but we must all share the responsibility to keep each other safe.