It was with a sad heart that I stood outside the Cathedral on Friday 11 December to pay my respects to a very well-loved Freeman of Worcester, Cecil Duckworth CBE. Many people were there to mark the final journey of a man who brought so much good and joy to Worcester citizens and visitors alike. As well as the Bishop, the Dean, the High Sherriff and the Leader, Deputy Leader and MD of Worcester City Council, there were many others who came to see this kind, benevolent and quiet man pass by. Cecil made a difference to so many people’s lives through his generosity and the benevolence he brought to this City.
Similar roadside tributes were made at Acorns Hospice where he was a major original benefactor; at New Road where he was President of the Worcestershire Cricket Club; at Sixways where his foresight made the club the success it is today and at Worcester Bosch where he developed the first combustion boiler. Cecil’s success not only brought him happiness but it also brought happiness to the community, as he enjoyed sharing his financial success with others. I feel proud to have known him and offer my sincere condolences to his family for their loss.
I am looking forward to attending two Worcester News Carol Services on Monday. The pandemic has curtailed the activities of us all this Christmas and the Mayor would normally attend six or seven carol services brought to the Cathedral by various organisations. It is very different this year. I hope that you all spend your Christmas and New Year period safely and happily and when I next have a chance to write this column in 2021, that we are well advanced with the vaccination programme. People keep saying to me “What a year!” and I agree, but if we come through it valuing the simple things in life more such as good health, kindness and care for others, then some good will have come out of it.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!
I am writing this in the dark by the light of a few candles. We have had a power cut for the last hour and the power is not expected to return for a while. When one is suddenly deprived of the basic necessities of life like light and heat, we are made acutely aware of how much we take for granted. We have been told that it is down to a low voltage output, but whatever the cause the effect is the same.
I was very pleased last week, on Small Business Saturday, to be able to visit two small businesses in town to give a word of thanks and praise, and to enquire about business life during the pandemic.
The first stop off was ‘The Meeting Place’ in Friar Street; a lovely café which is obviously producing first class food judging by the smiles on the faces of the customers in the shop. This is a new business venture, only started in September, and is a real family affair. The second business was Pack-It In, located in the Shambles Market Hall. What a wonderful emporium it is. I didn’t know there were so many different sorts of pasta, cereals, herbs and spices! There’s also an array of unusual and plastic free products from around the world. I would recommend a visit to both of these unique Worcester independents.
On Wednesday I presented a cheque for £10,000 to St. Richard’s Hospice. The money was raised through the metals recycling scheme of the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Management. I went to say thank you to the officers at Astwood Cemetery for their care and sensitivity in raising the money for such a good cause.
My light has returned!! The house is back to normal, but it has reminded me that when we think life is not treating us well, things could always be worse!
This has been a Zoom week for me. Who would have thought that a piece of software that very few people had heard of in January would be so relied on nowadays to maintain our connections with work, business and friends?
I started out on Monday with a Zoom meeting with the Trustees of the Museum of Royal Worcester. I am pleased to report that the museum is in excellent hands and this legacy of Worcester’s china making past is open and welcoming visitors; so do pay the Museum a visit and view its amazing collection.
On Wednesday I zoomed with Joe Petty – Mayor of Worcester Massachusetts. I am pleased to say that it was very positive discussion about the 300th anniversary of the founding of their city, which falls in 2022. Worcester USA is of course one of our twin towns. We agreed that we are both Mayors of wonderful cities; we plan to encourage as many organisations as we can to come together to celebrate this anniversary.
As Mayor I am also President of Worcester Twinning Association, so will be talking further to Mayor Petty in the New Year to progress these plans. If you are a member of an organisation which would like to link up with a similar one in Worcester USA, please let our local Twinning Association know. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
My other 3 Zooms this week have been with family and friends. It is an excellent way to keep in touch.
Finally, I cannot finish without saying what a momentous step has been taken with the government’s approval of a coronavirus vaccine which can be rolled out to the most vulnerable from next week. A huge thanks to the scientists who have developed the vaccine and to the NHS staff who will now deliver it. We have lived under the threat of coronavirus for nearly a year, but now an end is in sight. Remember to stay safe, keep to the rules and all will be well.
As I write this, the new tier levels have just been announced telling us what we can and can’t do in each region over the next two weeks. Here in Worcestershire, we are in tier two. It is good news however, that for the five days over the Christmas period we can meet with loved ones from two other households to celebrate the festive season. That, together with news of the effective vaccines which should be rolled out soon, are things to be cheerful about. We can look forward to better days in the not too distant future.
I can quite confidently say that the swans at South Quay didn’t care what tier we were in when I went to feed them this week at the launch of this year’s Big Christmas Swan Feed. They are the most beautiful birds, and there is a knack to feeding them to stop the greedy gulls and pigeons stealing their food. You have to make sure their necks are up so they are ready for the food and then throw it carefully into their midst so they get it before the other birds steal it.
I was giving them Ark Wildlife floating swan pellets which are available from several local retailers – but can also be bought more cheaply in 15kg sacks. This festive feeding is being spread over a month. We’d love you to take a photo of yourself feeding the swans and send it via Facebook (The Swan Food Project) or WhatsApp – or email email@example.com
Everyone will be entered into a draw and the winner will receive a sack of floating pellets.
I hope you all remembered to wear your white ribbons on Wednesday to mark White Ribbon Day. This will be followed by 16 days of action across the UK, in a bid to raise awareness and to end domestic violence against women. If you missed the day itself, it is not too late to stand up for this cause which has sadly increased during the period of lockdown. You can find out more at www.whiteribbon.org.uk/day