Another frenetic week.
While Sunday was my day off, I attended a re-union at The Foley Hotel, Malvern, of several friends who used to be members of Malvern Young Socialists. It was my first active experience of politics as I was a sixth-former at Hanley Castle Grammar School, when I first joined.
It was great to see Les Huckfield (former MP) who came from Scotland, Graham and Wendy Downie who live in Studley, Sally Hogdon (nee Haywood) and her brother John who live in Bacton and Banbury. Keith Morrell from Sutton Coldfield, Ann and Roger Pearman from Lower Wick, Jim Evans Worcester and my wife Jill were all there. Star traveller was David Livingstone who flew in from Toronto. We hope to meet Dave again in the New Year when he returns to the UK.
What a great day! Only a few of them are still involved in politics but they are all great company and it was lovely to see them all again after nearly 50 years!
The Worcester District Scout AGM was held on Monday and as President, I chaired their meeting. It was great to see John Day, Derrick Bishop and Keith lane. What a wonderful degree of parental involvement there is in this international organisation!
On Tuesday there was the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awareness Week and Coffee Morning in the Guildhall. It was a chance to educate us about this disease. The importance of early diagnosis was emphasised throughout and I learnt of many of the tests that are now available. We have made a great deal of progress since my early days on a ward at Powick Hospital in the late 1960s.
I visited the Worcester schools Bellboat Regatta at Pitchcroft on Wednesday morning. It was great to see local schools using the riverside in a safe environment – so important in a riverside city. I was pleased to meet several schools and Andy Train and his father, who have done so much to promote this safe sport to schools. It is all part of the Olympic build-up – starting at Stoke Manderville, going to Much Wenlock and finishing in Evesham.
In the evening I went to a performance of Taking Steps by The Swan Theatre Amateur Company. Congratulations to Ann Moore on what was an excellent production. If only we could improve attendances to keep theatre alive in the city!
I welcomed Chinese students from The Yucai Experimental Primary School staying with families at Pitmaston Primary School on Thursday. It was our first time taking school students around the Guildhall and I was grateful for the expertise of my Mayoress Jill, who has taught for many years in the city. The children were so interested and well behaved. It was great to see Tim Ireson, the Head, who has been involved in exchanges for some years.
Later the Olympic Torch came to the county cricket ground on New Road. What a tremendous experience and such commitment to Worcester citizens who turned out in force!
There were an estimated 10,000 at the cricket ground and 50,000 lining the streets. I am grateful to my deputy Pat Agar who was present at the Guildhall and, of course, to VisitWorcester staff who were responsible for the arrangements.
I was up early on Friday morning to go to the Elgar statue in High Street to welcome torchbearer Monica Martin and take photographs. It was a shame the torch left early, leaving so many people disappointed. The whole experience has been a superb opportunity to showcase the city to a national audience.
Later in the morning I took a trip to The Elgar Museum at Lower Broadheath where Mark Elder, conductor of The Halle Orchestra, opened the revamped exhibition and launched the appeal for a capital fund of £500,000. The Elgar Birthplace, just outside the city, was purchased by the city council in the 1920s. I believe the trustees have really developed and extended it into a top visitor attraction which is too little appreciated by local people.
I attended the Onside’s Great Bake Sale at the Guildhall on Saturday morning. This is an impressive local charity which provides support advocacy for vulnerable people – so much needed in these difficult times. We were able to enjoy the customary piece of cake and enjoy a cup of coffee. It really was a great opportunity to meet up with so many old friends and learn about this little-known organisation that now works throughout the county.
In the evening we attended the 30th birthday Party of Worcester Operatic and Dramatic Society Youth Section (WODYS) at Perdiswell Young People’s Club where we cut the cake and met youngsters who will be performing “Me and My Girl” at The Swan Theatre in early August. The productions have gone from strength to strength and are now part of my regular birthday celebrations each year.