It is a great sadness to hear the news of the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh.
Prince Philip was a man who commanded the respect of the nation. We admired him for his illustrious wartime record, his commitment to charities and for supporting young people. Most of all, of course, we admired his remarkable support for The Queen at every stage of her reign.
Sadly I never had the honour of meeting the Duke in person, but nonetheless I have a very strong impression of his devotion to duty, and of the nobility and insight he brought to every task he undertook.
At this very sad time I am sure the Royal Family will find peace and comfort in the outpouring of grief from the people of Worcester and across the Kingdom.
I hope you all had a restful and joyful Easter weekend. Wasn’t it wonderful to be able to meet with another household in the garden and share a meal and chat together face-to-face? Dave and I had a busy time with one daughter and family visiting on Saturday and the other visiting on Easter Sunday. Our son and his family will soon be able to travel up from London and we can see them too. How much we can now appreciate the simple things of life, like seeing friends and family when we have been prevented from doing so for so long.
The long-awaited opening of non-essential shops is eagerly anticipated and I have noticed that shop owners in town are busily getting their shops ready for Monday. I will be visiting some of them next week to wish them well and also to make some purchases How lovely it will be to be able to see and touch things again before I buy them.
I enjoyed the fresh air on Tuesday and walked a good way along the Malvern Hills. The weather can only be described as interesting. I started off in sunshine, then the sky started to cloud over and the hail came down which turned into snow. The wind was fierce and with stinging face and blown about hair I was so surprised when the sun came out again. A full weather forecast, all in a few hours!
Dave and I have had our second Covid vaccination this week. No photo this time, because so many people have now received the magic jab and so we all progress into a safer and more normal world together. Please make sure that you have your vaccination when it is offered and help to protect others. It is not only our only way back to normality but also helps to prevent the development of new variants and so enables us to live with the virus.
My week began with a meeting with the trustees of the Museum of Royal Worcester. Royal Worcester Porcelain played a major part in the life of my extended family and those of many Worcester residents in the 1900s. The factory, which used to produce such superb porcelain, was a major employer in the city. I don’t know whether any of you remember the “hooter” which used to go off at 1.55pm, letting the workers know that the lunch hour was over and it was time to go back to work. Am I showing my age?
Tuesday was a glorious weather day and I was almost moved to join in the physical activity session at Perdiswell Sports Centre, where I went to meet some of the people who are now allowed to exercise together out of doors. We look forward to the re-opening of indoor sports activity and a full use of the facilities at all our sports centres.
Tuesday evening was my last full Council meeting with me as Chair. It was a lively evening with councillors expressing various views and disagreeing with each other, which is always an excellent sign of democracy at work. The good people of Worcester deserve a full representation of ideas amongst the members of Worcester City Council – and believe me, they have it!
I was particularly pleased that my Motion to Council asking it to approve the permanent twinning arrangement with Gouzeaucourt was passed with only one member voting against it. The majority of Worcester councillors realise the huge benefits that come from making friends around the world rather than enemies.
As we approach this weekend with all the hopes and promises that the Easter message brings, can I wish you a very happy and peaceful break. I hope that the coming weeks bring everyone new energy and freedom, and a gradual return to our normal lives.
This week we passed a very significant moment in the history of the UK. On Tuesday we looked back on the anniversary of this country going into the first national lockdown on Monday 23rd March 2020.
Looking back on all that we have experienced and learned from living with the Covid 19 virus for a year was a very sobering moment. We remember those who have died and those who have recovered from this disease but are still feeling the effects (known as long Covid). We remembered those whose livelihoods have been affected by the loss of jobs and businesses. We remembered the fantastic NHS and all the other front-line workers to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude.
Some people observed the anniversary with a moment’s silence and some reflected quietly on an extraordinary year, the like of which we have never experienced before. We are now moving forward with a programme of vaccination which is unsurpassed in the fight against disease, as well as a timetable for the lifting of restrictions to begin our return to a more normal way of life.
I have been the “Lockdown Mayor” and so my year in office has been unlike a normal year in the job. Sadly, I have missed many opportunities to perform the usual mayoral functions which I would have expected. I have however become an expert in zooming!! This remote way of meeting with others has shown us a new way of carrying on with our business and social lives without the need to move from our kitchen tables.
This week I have attended seven zoom meetings in five days. On Thursday as President of the Twinning Association I was present with people from the French towns of le Vesinet, Vernon, Gouzeaucourt and Worcester at an excellent presentation on the special relationship our city has with the small French town of Gouzeaucourt. Many thanks to Terry Coles and Rosemary Campbell for an excellent talk. If you want to know more, go www.worcestertwinning.org.uk and click on “Worcester and Gouzeaucourt – a story of two towns”.