Monday 23rd: Grahame Lucas came to see me to discuss the “Worcester Foodbank” initiative being set up by All Saints Church and other partner churches. Worcester has its areas of poverty and increasingly there is a problem with people being only a pay cheque or bill payment away from a crisis. The aim of the “Foodbank” is to assist individuals by providing free emergency (non-perishable) food for three days (ten balanced meals). The food will be collected from the public at churches and schools and supermarkets and distributed to those in need. Also agencies (e.g. social services, clergy) will be given vouchers to hand to individuals they consider require help. The vouchers will then be exchanged for free food at the “Foodbank”. Trained volunteers will be available at the distribution centre to listen to problems and advise about access to other help to break the long term cycle of poverty. Last week I mentioned the “Worcester Christians Against Poverty” initiative and this will also link in with the work of the “Worcester Foodbank”.
I was delighted to welcome a group of Worcester lace makers to the Parlour for tea and a chat. As well as the history of the Guildhall they were especially interested in the lace that forms the Mayor’s jabot (Jabot comes from the French jabot meaning a bird’s crop). The term used to refer to the ruffles over the front of a shirt. Gradually it changed to a decorative item of lace or other fabric below the neck, attached to a neckband.
The current one is machine made: it would be wonderful to have a handmade one!
Jane, the Mayoress, is a keen lace-maker and two generations ago my family made lace by hand for a living in Bedfordshire. Lace is openwork, patterned with holes. Lace-making is an ancient craft going back to at least the late 15th Century. The technique for true lace is the looping, twisting or braiding to other threads quite separately from a backing fabric.
Lace being made with bobbins on a lace pillow
Tuesday 24th: This evening I attended a meeting of the City’s Fair Trade Group. Fair Trade Fortnight is from 27th February until 10th March and we considered ways in which to use this period to enhance awareness of the Fair Trade movement. It has a market-based approach aiming to support producers in developing countries to access better trading conditions, encouraging the payment of higher prices to producers with the addition of improved social and environmental standards. The focus is especially on exports to developed countries: coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, bananas, honey, cotton, wine and handicrafts. There are increasingly more Fair Trade products available of increasing quality. Worcester is a “Fair Trade City”.
Wednesday 25th: The Battle of Worcester in 1651 was a key event in our nation’s history. So it is important that we promote interest as widely as possible. I was therefore pleased to attend the “Battle of Worcester Partnership” meeting. On Saturday, 18th. February (10am – 4pm) there will be a “Living History in Worcester” exhibition in the Guildhall and The Tudor House. The displays will extend from the Vikings to World War II… a 1,000 years of history. Something for everyone and it’s free!! We will be asking for donations on the day in support of the Mayor’s charities of FOAG and Leukaemia Care. More information on www.lhiw.org.uk
Thursday 26th: I welcomed two lecturers from Minnesota-Duluth University (MDU) who are here at the University of Worcester for four months. It is always a pleasure to show our local treasures and talk about our amazing history. MDU was established in 1947 and has about 10,000 undergraduates and 2,000 post-graduate students.
Friday 27th: Basil Lewis D’Oliveira CBE died on 19th November 2011 aged 80 years. A memorial service was held in the Cathedral this afternoon. The turnout was huge and far exceeded 1,000. Three moving appreciations were given by Mr. Beresford Williams (President of Western Province Cricket Union, South Africa), Sir Michael Parkinson, CBE and Mr. Norman Gifford, MBE (Worcestershire, Warwickshire and England and Worcestershire Captain 1971 – 1980). “Dolly” was born in Cape Town of Indian-Portuguese origins. He was barred from first-class cricket and so emigrated to England in 1960. He played cricket for England in forty-four Test matches scoring 2,484 runs and taking 47 wickets. In 367 first class matches he scored 19,490 runs. We were privileged to have him play for Worcestershire from 1964 until 1980. He is also especially remembered for the “D’Oliveira affair” when in 1968 he was included in the England team to tour South Africa: a tour cancelled because of the apartheid laws. A truly remarkable man.
Saturday 28th: A beautiful sunny day. I gave a hand with selling raffle tickets outside the Guildhall in aid of the Mayor’s and Rotary Club of Worcester’s charities: the draw will take place at the Diamond Jubilee Dinner on 10th February. It is always fascinating to meet people in the High Street. In a short space of time I had met people from all over Worcestershire…one lady told me she comes to Worcester from Gloucester every week because she loves our City so much…then there were visitors from the USA, Brazil, Viet Nam all equally delighted by Worcester.
Sir John Betjeman (1906 – 1984) is my favourite poet. Jane and I were delighted to attend “Summoned by Bells” this evening in Old Saint Martin’s Church in the Cornmarket to enjoy a celebration of words, many from Betjeman’s poems, and music to mark the installation of the new ten bells. As the Right Reverend Dr. John Inge, Bishop of Worcester said “Bellringing is a great English phenomenon and it is a matter of rejoicing that it is presently undergoing something of a renaissance. New bells at Old St. Martin’s will ensure that Worcester remains at the forefront of this renaissance”.
Sir John Betjeman did so much through his poetry to promote church bells none better exemplified by his poem:
I used to stand by intersecting lanes
Among the silent offices, and wait,
Choosing which bell to follow; not a peal,
For that was too well-known, I liked things dim –
A single bell would tinkle down a lane:
My echoing steps would track the source of sound –
A cassocked verger, bell-rope in his hands,
Called me to high box pews, to cedar wood
And so once more, as for three hundred years,
This carven wood, these grey memorial’d walls
Heard once again the Book of Common Prayer,
While somewhere at the back the verger, now
Turned Parish Clerk, would rumble out “Amen”.
Sunday 29th: Jane and I attended Eucharist and Candlemas at Whittington Church this morning. In the Church of England, Candlemas, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple in Jerusalem, is a Feast which is celebrated on 2nd. February or on the Sunday between 28th January and 3rd February. It is one of the twelve Great Feasts in some Eastern Catholic Churches and is sometimes called Hypapante. In the Roman Catholic Church the “Feast of the Presentation of the Lord” is the major feast between the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle on 25th January and the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle on 22nd February.