Monday 7th: Preparing for official Civic events, especially services at the Cathedral, is important. There are so many things to think about, when to arrive, when to go in and out, when to stand, when to be involved with a particular part of the procedure, who to stand next to and on which side….. So the run through this afternoon was especially useful for this coming Remembrance Sunday.
We all know Henry Sandon, MBE, from his expertise on Royal Worcester porcelain and the television programme “The Antiques Road Show”. But how many of us were aware that he is a very knowledgeable music enthusiast too? This was revealed when he featured in a recording for BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions. Jane and I were among the invited audience in the Worcester Porcelain Museum to hear Henry being interviewed about his musical life and his favourite musical pieces: among these were Tomkins, Purcell, Bach, Elgar and Noel Coward. A most enjoyable evening. The recording will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 4th. December.
Tuesday 8th: Dr. Donald Hunt and I put the finishing touches to the arrangements for the “We Will Remember Them” concert in the Guildhall on Friday. Donald has worked very hard on this…brilliant!
Wednesday 9th: I have always enjoyed gardening and seeing plants grow so it was a particular pleasure to attend the Worcester Allotment Forum Presentation Evening in the Guildhall. There are almost 1,000 allotment holders in Worcester looking after their plots with great pride. The winners of the best kept plots were presented with their certificates, medals and cups. Growing your own is becoming more and more important and popular especially for health and the economy and this is reflected by the 152 people who are on the waiting list for a plot. By the way do you know the definition of a cabbage? It is a familiar garden vegetable about as large and wise as a man’s head. But what about a cauliflower? That is a cabbage with a college education.
Thursday 10th: Lauren Billington and friends from “Leukaemia Care” came for a cream tea and cakes (made by Jane) in the parlour. This charity continues to work hard to raise funds for the crucial service it provides. I am so glad that I chose them as one of the Mayor’s charities.
Helen and Hursty, of the Wyvern Breakfast Show, hosted the “Wyvern Local Hero Awards” for Herefordshire and Worcestershire this evening at Alexander Park, Pixley, Ledbury. Sixteen awards were presented and I had the privilege of presenting the one for the “Unsung Wyvern Hero” to Jayne Moran who had been nominated by her daughter Claire.
Friday 11th: Remembrance Day: the Royal British Legion and a large crowd gathered in front of the War Memorial beside the Cathedral. The Rev. Canon Paul Tongue conducted a short Service of Remembrance during which Allan Poyner of the Legion and I, on behalf of the City, each laid a wreath. The silence was tangible and moving as the Cathedral bell struck at 11am.
The “We Will Remember Them” concert in the Assembly Room of the Guildhall marking the 90th Anniversary of The Royal British Legion was superb. The packed audience was treated to a programme of words and music by Hubert Parry, Siegfried Sassoon, Ivor Novello, Rudyard Kipling, Glen Miller, G.A.Studdert-Kennedy and many others. The tapestry of the whole had been skilfully designed by Dr. Donald Hunt, Director of The Elgar Chorale. The Choir, soloists (Sophie McLellan and Keith Bridges), readers (Gabrielle Bullock, Peter Rogers, Tim Watson and David Wright) and the trumpeter (John Swindells) were magnificent. I hope this whets everyone’s appetite to attend more concerts by the Chorale and especially the Mayor’s Charity Concert in the Guildhall on Thursday 15th December. Tickets (£8.00) available from the Elgar Chorale 01684 594570 or Worcester Tourist Information centre 01905 726311.
Saturday 12th: “Serenity Courage Wisdom” was the title for this evening’s concert of music and readings for remembrance held in the Cathedral and performed by the Worcester Cathedral Chamber Choir. The Conductor was Stephen Shellard with Ian Ball at the organ and Gabrielle Bullock the reader. Another most enjoyable evening. The pieces included works by David Briggs, Gabriel Faure and poems by Wilfred Owen.
Sunday 13th: Remembrance Sunday: a procession from the Guildhall to the Cathedral for the Service and thence a War Memorial Wreath-Laying Ceremony. As always a most moving occasion.
The crowds in Cathedral square and back to the Guildhall for the march past were enormous: I have never seen so many people and others commented similarly. It was very encouraging to see the numbers of children and young people. I took the salute with the Senior Deputy Lord Lieutenant.
For almost 30 years it has been the tradition to lay wreaths on the grave of Rev. Studdert-Kennedy’s (“Woodbine Willie”) grave in St. John’s Cemetery. The Rev. Canon Paul Tongue conducted the short service of remembrance and Allan Poyner representing the Royal British Legion and I laid the wreaths.
Rev. Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, MC (1883 – 1929), was an Anglican priest and poet. The nickname, ‘Woodbine Willie’, was given to him during the First World War because of his giving “Woodbine” cigarettes, with spiritual aid, to injured and dying soldiers.
In 1914 he became the vicar of St. Pauls, Worcester. When war was declared he volunteered to go to the Western Front as Army chaplain. In 1917, he won the Military Cross at Messines Ridge after running into no man’s land to help the wounded. He wrote a number of poems which are heart-rending especially “Waste”:
Waste of muscle, waste of brain
Waste of patience, waste of pain
Waste of manhood, waste of health
Waste of beauty, waste of wealth
Waste of blood and waste of tears
Waste of youth’s most precious years
Waste of ways the Saints have trod
Waste of glory · Waste of God