Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 December 2018

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 7 December 2018

Last weekend was the busiest for the city this year, with approximately 150,000 visitors arriving in Worcester’s centre.

Officers and agencies pulled out all the stops to fulfil this complex logistical challenge and to keep everything running smoothly: a heartfelt thank you to all those who helped to stage another hugely successful Victorian Fayre.

The weekend also saw the annual Small Business Saturday event take place. The location this year was Lowesmoor, just off the main shopping thoroughfare from the city centre. It’s a thriving and bustling area, with the majority of retailers there being independents. We talked to Maz, the owner of The Bakehouse, who in his early days when setting up worked up to 20 hours a day.  He bakes the most amazing bread and pastries (over 50 varieties I was told) all with equal love, care and attention to detail.  This effort certainly shows; his products are works of art!

Over 60% of Worcester’s businesses are independents.  They are the life and soul of this City, without which we would be much poorer both in culture and identity.  Please, please support them.

This week I enjoyed my first Christmas lunch! This was experienced in the magnificent Guildhall, where I welcomed senior citizens from across the city.  The Worcester Community Trust, one of my designated charities, organised a brilliant event which gave many the opportunity to dine in the majestic Assembly Room for the first time. The atmosphere and goodwill in the room were evident, and a joy to behold.

Along with Xmas lunches come nativity plays.  An entertaining one was provided by the Pre prep children at Kings St Albans, who presented a thoroughly enjoyable and well presented play, through which the Christmas message shone through clearly.  It really does amaze me that children can perform with such confidence at a young age.

I also had the opportunity to enjoy a Caribbean themed event in aid of charities supported by the Chairman of Bromsgrove, Caroline Spencer. It was a fantastic night, that ended up with the Chain Posse in a Limbo dance-off.  It wasn’t pretty, but the atmosphere was hot, hot, hot! This was in stark contrast to the weather outside.  A little bit of Barbados, in Bromsgrove; if only!

Mayor’s Week: 24 – 30 November 2018

Mayor’s Week: 24 – 30 November 2018

I would like to thank the thousands of people who turned out for the official Christmas lights switch on last week – and also the BBC H&W Radio team for making the event extremely special. Cathedral Square is fast becoming the destination of choice for such events – it is proving a great investment for the City.

My consort for the day was Luca Wooding, from Regency High School.  He thoroughly enjoyed the experience and was proud to be the local celebrity as we jointly switched on the lights!

This week I was kindly invited by the Worcester Muslim Welfare Association to Unity House, to see how the services they provide are benefitting the community. The Women’s Group, which encourages women of all ages to participate in activities that improve mental health such as exercise, arts and crafts, was a highlight.  Keep up the good work!

On a sombre note, I attended the funeral of local political legend Geoff Williams in a packed service at Astwood Cemetery. Geoff was a man of great principle and intelligence, who served this city selflessly.  He was awarded the Freeman of the City only last month and will soon be honoured in a ceremony to mark his contribution to the city.

The service programme at the funeral left us with a quote from the great Ralph Waldo Emerson to reflect upon:

“What is success?

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate the beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

We have a proud tradition in the city of welcoming people and going out of our way to help those in need. So please carry on that tradition and spread the message of peace.  Look out for those that need help, so that everyone’s Christmas can be full of joy and happiness.

Mayor’s Week: 17 – 23 November 2018

Mayor’s Week: 17 – 23 November 2018

I was delighted to welcome year 5 children from Holly Mount School last week (Parliament Week) for an extended Question Time, where I was grilled about democracy and local politics.

As you know, children come up with the most fascinating and imaginative questions.  One of the best had to be:  “Do you have any special powers when you wear your cloak and chain?”  mmm.. it left me a little stumped and I politely proceeded to explain that I hadn’t, but if I did it would be great have teleportation – how much time I could save!

I was also asked if I have the number for the Queen and Number 10 – or the power to sack the Government?  These ones needed more careful negotiation and diplomacy, as you can imagine.

Thank you to all those children and schools that took part in my Christmas card competition.  There were some wonderful and imaginative designs which grasped my theme of ‘Love Not Hate’ perfectly – winners will be announced in the following week.

Children in need always brings a smile to people’s faces and I thank Worcester Ukulele Group and Crowngate for inviting me to a sing along in the Shopping Centre.  It was thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining, whilst raising money for a very good cause!

I got the chance to dress up with a Flower Power theme as I visited nPower HQ  in the evening, to thank all the staff taking calls from the general public for the BBC Children in Need appeal.  Well done for your precious donations of time and money!

On Saturday I was entertained by the Worcester Festival Choral Society at a concert in the Cathedral.  Can I take the opportunity to say it was a fantastic spectacle and an evening full of high quality music – to my untrained ear it was seamless and heavenly, especially from the Soprano and the choir.

A crisp Sunday morning saw me join the Royal British Legion in remembrance of the Prisoners of War that are buried at Astwood Cemetery.  It was a poignant moment to recognise all those that were caught in this terrible war.  It was heartening to see representation from the Polish Association of Worcester there too.

Have a great weekend.


Mayor’s Week: 11 – 17 November 2018

Mayor’s Week: 11 – 17 November 2018

Last week we attended the University graduations in the historic Cathedral, which has been a seat of learning for centuries. Hundreds of students received their degree there this year.  I am proud of the fact that despite the current mood of uncertainty around, our University goes from strength to strength. It is testimony to the ingenuity, entrepreneurship and innovation of the university staff, governors, chancellery and last but certainly not least, the students.  Together they make the University a great success, not only in academic terms but also by providing such a rich contribution to life in the city.

Words cannot describe the scenes and emotions I felt on Remembrance Sunday, walking out into a packed Cathedral Square with hundreds lining the High Street to pay their respects at the end of the First World War centenary.

Not only did we remember the British soldiers that died in the First and Second World Wars, but all those who passed away in other conflicts since then. The scenes in Cathedral Square were awe inspiring; the power of the moment was sublime and you could really feel the City united in respect. The March and parade to follow was equally impressive, with the members of our Armed Forces, Cadets, Emergency Services, Scouts and Veterans receiving the salute by the Lord Lieutenant – a fitting way to inspire and remember those that fought for our freedoms.

I am honoured and grateful to have witnessed this momentous event – which according to many has been the best public occasion in recent living memory in this wonderful city of ours.

The beacon lighting ceremony at Fort Royal Park that evening was equally special.  We reflected on the valuable and crucial contribution that women made during WW1. A powerful performance by DanceFest left many stunned, as they expressed their feelings and powerful message through dance and music.

As we continue to ride the wave of goodwill and positivity generated last weekend, I pray for peace across the globe and hope that our leaders can use this opportunity to build bridges not walls – and to put aside our differences under the umbrella of love, not hate.