Mayor’s Week, 17 – 23 October 2011

Mayor’s Week, 17 – 23 October 2011

Monday 17th: Dr. Rosemary Smart and I (as Shadow Public Governors of the Hospital Trust (yet to become a Foundation Trust)) met with Dr. Charles Ashton (Medical Director of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals’ NHS Trust) to discuss various aspects of mutual interest. It was an excellent meeting, clarified a number of issues and should help us, as Public Governors, when communicating with our constituents.

Tuesday 18th: Making speeches is a strength I wish I had. When I was at school, The Skinners’ Grammar in Tunbridge Wells, all Sixth Formers had to be members of the Debating Society. This met weekly with the Headmaster in the Chair. I always tried to avoid eye contact with the HM just in case he thought I wanted to contribute from “the floor”!! However, when you are Mayor you have to give the occasional speech: in fact three for this week. Rarely does a speech have to be long but it is the “few words” that take a great deal of thought and preparation. So that was my job for today.

It is essential that the Mayor is kept briefed about issues going on in the City Council. So my routine monthly meeting with Duncan Sharkey, Managing Director, was very useful.

Does anyone read this “Blog”? Well, it seems so. In the last month (17th September – 17th October) there were 454 visits by 290 visitors. Hi, everyone, good to know you’re out here in cyberspace with me!

Wednesday 19th: The Tolly Centre Intergenerational Garden Project has brought together young students from the Tudor Grange Academy and older people from the local community in Tolladine. The Mayoress and I were shown around the garden by Harry Saunders and Bharati Pillai, both from Tudor Grange, before I “cut the ribbon” to officially open (yes, I know that’s a split infinitive!!) the garden. It is all a great credit to The Worcester Community Trust, Worcester Volunteer Centre and the many young and older volunteers. Local cooperation, local achievement for local enjoyment.

The Tolly Centre Intergenerational Garden Project
The Ribbon is cut

The Tolly Centre Intergenerational Garden Project
Presentation of Volunteer’s Certificate

I have always been a great fan of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas. Jane and I were not disappointed when we were invited to attend a performance of “Princess Ida” this evening at the Swan Theatre. Alan Feeney (Director), David Whitehouse (Musical Director) and the whole Worcester Gilbert & Sullivan Society gave us two hours of amusement and delight. Well done!!

Thursday 20th: I met Donald Hunt and Peter Rogers (of the Royal British Legion) to put the finishing touches to the arrangements for the concert in the Guildhall at 7.30pm.on Friday 11th November 2011. “We Will Remember Them” is made up of words and music for this Time of Remembrance and marking the 90th Anniversary of the Royal British Legion. Donald has done a remarkable job compiling this concert. Please come! Admission is FREE: apply for tickets through the Tourist Office (01905 726311) or The Administrator, Elgar Chorale: 01684 594570.

Friday 21st: The Worcester College of Technology is rightly proud of its distinguished history over the last 150 years. This year 15,000 students were enrolled. The Graduation Ceremony for around 170 students took place in the Cathedral. I was delighted to shake the hand of every one of them. Robin Walker, MP, was the guest speaker and praised the success of the College and its contribution to the economic fabric of the City.

The Worcester Festival Choral Society (WFCS) was founded in 1861 so celebrates its 150th. Anniversary this year. A gala dinner was held in the Guildhall. It was wonderful to have as special guests Sir David Willcocks (Conductor of the WFCS in the late 1950’s), Dr. Christopher Robinson (Conductor 1962 – 1974), Dr. Donald Hunt (1975 – 1996), Christopher Allsop (Assistant Conductor) and of course Adrian Lucas, the current Director of Music. I had the honour of giving one of the two speeches: part of what I said included:

“When I was thinking about what to say this evening I just wondered what Worcester and the Nation were like in 1861, the year of the foundation of your Society.

“Queen Victoria had been on the throne for 25 years. Prince Albert died in 1861 and the Queen went into a prolonged mourning.

“Incidentally Queen Victoria was the grand-daughter of George III who gave his portrait to the City in 1788.

“Worcester had a population of about 18,000: we now have almost six times that number. The railway had reached Worcester only 11 years earlier in 1850. This to some extent is credited to Alexander Sherriff who became Mayor in 1862. This Mayoral Chain that I wear represents the couplings between railway carriages and was given to the City by Sherriff. By the way at least two railway engines were named after Elgar.

“There was no electricity in Worcester in 1861: that did not arrive until 1894.

“In the Cornmarket Music Hall on 12th. June 1862, when the first Worcester Festival Choral Society concert took place, Worcester had a small population, no electric light and a Queen in mourning. But it did have a railway and I wonder how many people came from far away for this inaugural event! I wonder if the Mayor, Alexander Sherriff, had been invited: I like to think so.

“The “Worcester Herald” reported this concert as follows:

“The hall was completely filled with a fashionable audience, and the concert in its entirety passed off remarkably well.”The Creation” ……………. was performed, in which the vocalists generally performed the solos very beautifully. The choruses, too, were admirably rendered, especially “The Heavens are Telling”.

(Now wait for it!): “Mr. Tibbutt[1] presided at the piano and Mr. J Caldicott at the harmonium. Mr. Done officiated as conductor………the absence of the organ was severely felt: it was caused by damage from the storm of Monday, the rain and hail having penetrated the roof and unfortunately flooded the pipes…………………………………………

We congratulate the Society on its first night as a great success, and an omen for good.”

[1] If anyone knows who this “Mr. Tibbutt” was I would be pleased to hear. Although the name is spelt exactly as mine I had never heard of him and so far have found no more information.

“I assure you that the pianist was not me!!!

“As many of you must be aware Elgar, in 1877, formed a wind quintet that became known as “The Brothers Wind”. Elgar played the bassoon. The first flute and leader of the quintet was a certain accountant Hubert Aloysius Leicester. He was a life-long friend of Elgar and was responsible for Elgar’s being awarded the freedom of the City of Worcester in 1905. He was also closely involved with the Worcester Festival Choral Society. He was Mayor of this City five times (1904 – 05 and 1913 – 15)… a record. He later became Sir Hubert and the second president of the Worcester Rotary Club.

“What is rather exciting is the discovery of a portrait of Sir Hubert in the store room of the City Library. Unfortunately it is so big I have not yet been able to bring it to the Guildhall but I do have a photograph.

“Ladies and gentlemen: Worcester is steeped in history and wherever you go you find a musical element. Long may that be so!.”

The evening was rounded off with a fascinating and amusing speech by Adrian Lucas about the history of the WFCS.

Saturday 22nd: The Worcester Swimming Club (WSC) has been in existence since 1928 and currently has 528 members. The Club’s 15th “Open Meet” was arranged for the three days 21st – 23rd October in the Sansome Walk pool. Twenty one clubs from across Worcestershire took part. The enthusiasm, commitment and standard of performance was amazing. These young people are the future of this sport and need all the encouragement we can muster. Neil Monkhouse (Chairman of the WSC) and the large numbers of volunteers who make the Club so successful are to be congratulated. I had the pleasure of presenting the prizes for this morning’s events.

Formed in 1987 the Worcester Male Voice Choir has delighted audiences here and abroad raising huge sums of money for worthwhile causes. Their Annual Concert was presented this evening in College Hall of King’s School. The standard was as high as ever with the added pleasure of hearing Claire Allen-Powell sing, three students from the Sixth Form College and Nunnery Wood High school play their clarinets and John Wilderspin on the organ.

Sunday 23rd: The Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir is a mixed voice adult choir. It was founded in 1998 by its musical director, Stephen Shellard, to draw together a group of high quality singers from the local area to develop a concert repertoire and further enrich the choral tradition of Worcester Cathedral. Therefore I am delighted to assist with the advertising of a Remembrance Concert on Saturday, 12th November at 7.30pm in the Cathedral. “Serenity, Courage, Wisdom” will be an evening of words by the war poet Wilfred Owen and music by David Briggs, Fauré, Taverner, Duruflé and MacMillan. Don’t miss it!! Further information on or 07549 634068.

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