Mayor’s Week – 9-15 August 2014

Mayor’s Week – 9-15 August 2014

Given the size of our City at just under 100,000, we are disproportionately blessed with organisations and volunteers who put on an almost endless stream of Festivals throughout the year.

Just as the Three Choirs finishes, so the Worcester Festival 2014 starts for  two weeks. It’s packed with activities, entertainments and competitions for all ages and interests, most of them free.

It was therefore exciting to have attended the Festival Launch last week with the organisers. This really is an event for everyone since it celebrates Worcester and all aspects of the City, and I’ve already found out just how many of those there are in the cultural and historical spheres alone.

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, I was proud to lead the Civic Procession from The Guildhall to the Cathedral  on Saturday.

WW1-Parade-2014
Photo courtesy of Worcester News

I did the Second Reading – the parable of the lost sheep – reminding us all of the importance that God places on people who acknowledge their faults and  consequently change their ways.

In thinking that through, I thought how hard that must be for those politicians and others who have started wars. Hardly any of them recently have admitted they got it wrong, despite the inevitable, enormous and very obvious life-changing consequences for literally millions of other people, preferring instead  to write memoirs justifying their actions.

Admittedly, the bigger the error such as starting a war, the harder it is to acknowledge it, but then the greater will be the reward for those who do.

My historical research has shown that the Mayoral Chain of Office is 150 old this year so I shall be commemorating it in an event later this year by holding an open day when people can come along to see it, touch it, and even put it on for a photo if they would like to.

It is by far the most valuable and fascinating Chain in the country. Not only people from Worcester, but also from far and wide,  have heard about it and are rightly interested in and proud of it.

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 8 August 2014

Mayor’s Week: 1 – 8 August 2014

It’s always good to start the week positively, as I jointly hosted a reception in College Hall in the Cathedral to mark the end of the Three Choirs Festival and to thank all the participants. Most of them were justifiably tired, but pleased with the way everything had gone and were looking forward to a rest or holiday.

I then rapidly moved on to what will be the first of many serious events to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War (there will be on-going events for 2015 to 2018 to parallel the years of the war.) This service of remembrance, held at the Army Reserve Centre, was part of the Lights Out campaign between 10.00 p.m. and 11.00 p.m., at which point in 1914 the war actually started with the British declaration of war on Germany.

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It was a real pleasure to meet so many enthusiastic and cheerful men and women members of the Battery – but perhaps not surprising since they were in the Bar at the time – who freely give of their time to be part of the Army Reserve, with some coming from as far away as Shropshire. A nice touch was that some passers-by were allowed in to the parade and it was a pure pleasure to see the look of excitement on the faces of the children with the gunfire volley at 11 p.m., followed by another one two minutes later.

I’m often concerned about the low participation of young people in so many of our institutions and organisations, so I was certainly elated by my attendance at the Swan Theatre’s performance of Footloose by Worcester Operatic & Dramatic Society Youth Section (WODYS). Remember, these youngsters are only aged 8 – 18 years old, but it was such a lively and professional performance you forgot that fact.

There are 70 young people in WODYS, with another 78 encouragingly on the waiting list. In particular, I must applaud the lead actor, Jack Cashion who played the part of Ren, and I very much hope he achieves his ambition to read History at Oxford. To the production team and organisers – thank you for a superbly enjoyable evening.

 

Mayor’s Week: 25 – 31 July 2014

Mayor’s Week: 25 – 31 July 2014

I started this week with a tour and reception for the Make Time Friendship Group, a club to help people who feel isolated and lack confidence socialising get out and about. And just think of those nice words – who of us is honestly too busy to make time for others? We all endlessly rush around and often overlook the most important things in life – our family and friends.  So, can I thank those people, from wherever they come, who just knock on the Parlour door (or wander in!) to look at the most beautiful office in the whole of Worcester. They’re mainly tourists so I always direct them to our Museums and shops and ask them to spend their money.

Mayor & Salt Light christians

I witnessed a truly amazing act of Christian charity in Gheluvelt Park when about 100 young people from a week-long Christian camp near Worcester, participating in the Take Pride In Worcester campaign, cleaned up and painted the railings, the main gate and equipment in the play area. For so many young people who do not even live near Worcester to serve our City in this way is an impressively vivid way for the true meaning of Christianity to show itself. It is like the work of His Holiness, Pope Francis, in making his church so much more relevant by returning to fundamentals in a secular and selfish world.

Of course, this week has seen Worcester host the Three Choirs Festival, the world’s oldest music festival. It was good to mix with colleagues from Hereford and Gloucester at the receptions and the Thursday concert of Elgar and Vaughan Williams could only ever be a pure delight and, significantly in the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, this concert was supported by the German Embassy. I also attended the Launch of the 2015 programme, to be held in Hereford, which will be the 300th Anniversary of the Festival. However, without wishing to be churlish about it, that is only based on some very dubious figures about when the first Festival actually took place, and on excluding war and other years when it did not take place. Let’s just say, the arithmetic is somewhat unreliable! And, anyway, Worcester did host the 200th Anniversary event.

Mayor’s Week: 18 – 24 July 2014

Mayor’s Week: 18 – 24 July 2014

This week has reinforced my strong view that Worcester has all the ingredients to be a major tourist centre and we should get a grip on it by marking out a heritage trail, like so many other cities, with arrows on the pavement signposting tourists to all the main sights in an easy way. For example, attending an evening showing at the Museum of Royal Worcester Porcelainproved what a worldwide heritage we have to sell. The following day, I hosted a group of Chinese students in The Mayor’s Parlour, confirming that the Chinese are high-spending tourists. Another opportunity to “sell” Worcester came when I welcomed in The Parlour a group of students from Le Vesinet, one of our twin towns, and I spoke of how essential it is that we all remember our common European heritage and history in which we have so much in common, with very few real differences.

Like most men, I don’t enjoy spending too much time on clothes shopping but during my afternoon in the High Street, I was struck by the universal courtesy, helpfulness, and friendliness of all the sales assistants I met. So, a big thank you for making my task almost enjoyable and for giving the tourists a good impression of our City.

When I did the Grand Opening of Perry Manor Care Home I realized our City has cutting edge facilities to offer too. This Home is a model for the future as it felt more like a hotel than a traditional home (I was tempted to book a place there, but not just yet!). And congratulations to the Home for building up a fantastic relationship with Perry Wood Primary School. Well done to the teachers and staff for producing such polite and enthusiastic children who helped with the opening.

Opening the Family Fun Day in Cripplegate Park in aid of Frankie’s Legacy was yet another reminder of how many volunteers we have in the city who give their time and expertise to organize events and fundraise for worthy causes and, on a lovely sunny day, so enjoyable too. Well done Lisa and Russell.