Youth Choral Worcs in Worcester Cathedral performing Mass in Blue

Last weekend we were invited to a performance of Mass in Blue by Youth Choral Worcs in Worcester Cathedral.

This is a project set-up in 2010 to provide educational choral singing projects to young people in the county, particularly those who have limited opportunity to access this sort of experience.

It is open to any secondary school in Worcestershire and provides the opportunity to learn a major choral work with world class professionals and perform it in a major concert venue. It is the brainchild of Anne Renshaw who has a vision of the highest quality of music in the city being open for all.

Well, the energy, enthusiasm and top-notch performance this week is testament to the success of this project.

Christopher Whitehead and the Royal Grammar School (RGS) from the city were joined by other county schools, Cathedral Youth Choir and international students from the USA together with the project’s Music Director and Conductor Neil Ferris, the composer of Mass in Blue, Will Todd, at the piano with the Will Todd jazz ensemble and soprano soloist Lorna James.

It was an unforgettable performance. The concert was presented by the saxophonist Jess Gillam who performed with her trio as guest artist. What an inspiring role model she is.

The sad thing is that this is exactly the sort of thing that is being cut with a narrowing of the national curriculum and underfunding of the arts.

Anne was twice turned down for financial help from Arts Council England for the project and it was only because of generous funding from The Bransford Trust, Worcester City Council and Worcestershire Community Foundation that this could go ahead.

Music provides a great way to learn teamwork and broaden horizons. I know that opportunities like this can literally change a young person’s life. It is a travesty that without opportunities like this, music is often now limited to an affluent few.

Well done to everyone involved and thank you Anne for everything you do.

MAYOR’S WEEK: 21 – 27 APRIL 2024

MAYOR’S WEEK: 21 – 27 APRIL 2024

Mayor Louis Stephen with members of the St George's Day Parade

Last Sunday it was the Scout’s annual St George’s Day parade. I’m always learning. The sun shone on the hundreds of Squirrels, Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers as they marched past the Vice Lord-Lieutenant Gilbert Greenall taking the salute.

There was a warm positive atmosphere with the High Street packed with proud parents and grandparents. What I had not expected was the Cathedral service just prior to the parade.

I say this in a good way – I’ve never been to a Cathedral service quite like this. Cubs and Scouts have changed a great deal over the years.

Participants of the St George's Day Parade

The service included lots of singing, audience participation “it’s behind you” and lots of laughs as they put on a short play retelling the story of how St George overcame the dragon in the most engaging way imaginable – at times we were in stitches on the front row.

All of the organisers deserve much deserved thanks – they are all volunteers and do so much in our communities creating a fantastic social environment for our young people.

The Scouts in Worcester meet in 10 groups within our city. With over 1,100 young people and 350 volunteers. Unfortunately, not every area is fully covered. In the north of the city, 12th Worcester would love to open a Scout Troop so the Cubs can move up when they reach 10 years old.

And in WR2 they have a huge waiting list for the Squirrels’ age group of 4-6 years old. They need volunteers to help open these sections.

Society changes and with it so do organisations like the Scouts. They are an inclusive organisation and welcome diversity in volunteering. Whether you work with young people directly, a trustee, or an admin superstar, they are ready to welcome you. Visit Scouts Worcester to express an interest.

Participants of the St George's Day Parade

MAYOR’S WEEK: 14 – 20 APRIL 2024

MAYOR’S WEEK: 14 – 20 APRIL 2024

Last weekend I attended a charity event for Worcestershire’s Children First fostering service. It was an event organised by Kyle Daisley, Chairman of Worcestershire County Council.

I’ve attended many charity events during my Mayoral year. Every event is a chance to learn something new.

We heard about how foster parents help and support the most vulnerable children in our communities. It breaks my heart to think of the very many children who through no fault of their own are being looked after in a children’s home. Instead of a children’s centre manager, doesn’t every child deserve a warm, supportive and loving real home with parents?

It’s clear that being a foster carer isn’t possible for everyone, however there is something we can all do to help, and that is by talking about fostering. There are nearly 600,000 living in our county – there is a very good chance that there are good people who might be interested to help. But how do we reach them? Somebody somewhere just needs to be asked or given a kernel of an idea that down the line might one day lead to them applying to become a foster parent.

I listened, took their message and now I’m passing that message on. Who do you know that might be interested? You may not have a weekly blog or newspaper column but my challenge to you is to mention fostering to someone you know and ask them in turn to think of someone else that might be interested. Maybe, just maybe as a community someone you mention fostering to, could dramatically change a young person’s life forever.

MAYOR’S WEEK: 7 – 13 APRIL 2024

MAYOR’S WEEK: 7 – 13 APRIL 2024

It’s been a varied week.

I had the pleasure of giving some of the Worcester Wheels volunteers a much-deserved Mayoral ‘thank you for everything you do’ tour of the Guildhall. Worcester Wheels helps older and less able-bodied people get around the city to attend hospital appointments and social events where the cost of a taxi would be prohibitive. Their work is absolutely invaluable for many city residents.

On Saturday I attended the 100-year celebration event for Worcester Rotary Club. Earlier in my Mayoral year I was invited by the Rotary Club to help judge one of their school public speaking events. This is a fantastic initiative that boosts the confidence of primary school children to speak up and to speak loudly – a great life skill.

I also had the pleasure of visiting GL (Green Lighting), based at the Great Western Business Park ear Shrub Hill. This is a business that has grown enormously over the last 20 years, receiving several industry awards along the way. Their core business was low energy lighting but they are now expanding into eco home technology, including EV charging, solar panel invertors and battery storage technology. As an engineer I loved it. It’s very much a Worcester business, with local business owner and MD Anthony Ottway employing over 25 people. It’s great to see a local business do so well, especially one that is working to help the UK reach its net zero carbon targets.