Mayor’s Week, 3 – 9 October 2011

Mayor’s Week, 3 – 9 October 2011

Tuesday 4th: Well, it wasn’t a restful weekend. Where do four year old twin grand-daughters get all their energy? There are 48 letters in the Hirahana Japanese alphabet and they know them already: they are way ahead of me.

Wednesday 5th: My three charities (Leukaemia Care, Noah’s Ark and Worcester Farmers’ Overseas Action Group) met with me this morning. In spite of the economy we still hope for a good turnout for the “1920’s Murder Mystery Evening” on Friday 14th October. I called into the Party Shop in Angel Place to see what is available to give a 1920’s attire flavour: a great range.

As we have seen in the local press “Noah’s Ark” is going through a difficult financial period. The work this charity does for bereaved children is vital. Let us all give all the support we can afford.

My passion for Africa is well known so I was delighted to invite a group of sixth formers from the Royal Grammar School Worcester to the Parlour to hear about their proposed expedition to Tanzania in July next year. I found out about this venture when I attended the visit by The Princess Royal on 19th September. RGS Worcester has had links with Emboreet, in a remote area south of Arusha, since 2007. While in Emboreet the students will be helping the local community by working at Simanjiro Primary School. I have no doubt that they will make a real impact with a lot of hard work. In the meantime they need to raise their own funds. I look forward to hearing more about their progress.

Thursday 6th: Representatives of the Rotary Club of Worcester came to discuss our joint charity dinner event on Friday 10th. February 2012. It will be a great evening to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee of her accession to the throne. Don’t miss this “Street Party” in the Guildhall and dust off your “Coronets and Tiaras”.
A non-Mayoral afternoon spent in the Planning Committee.

Friday 7th: Harry Turner, Chairman of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals’ NHS Trust, took Jane and me on a tour of the Worcestershire Royal Hospital. During my time as a Consultant Physician (1976 – 1998) in Worcester I worked only in the Worcester Royal Infirmary (Castle Street and Ronkswood). Today we were taken to see the Critical Care Unit, Maternity and the ward caring for people after colorectal surgery. Everywhere we went was spotless… the staff had had less than 24 hours’ notice of our visit. Cheerfulness, enthusiasm and dedication to patient care and excellence were clear. I was especially impressed by the colorectal surgical unit where a young surgeon had pioneered a care programme that enables the majority of patients after major surgery to be discharged within five days. I was also delighted to see several nurses with whom I had worked over 25 years ago still there and doing a fantastic job.

Worcestershire Royal Hospital
Worcestershire Royal Hospital

At midnight on 4th August 1914 there were five Empires (Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, French and British) at war. The “Great War” had begun and by 11th. November 1918 nine million combatants would be killed. 2014 will be the Centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. We need to plan for that year so I convened a meeting in the Parlour of various interested colleagues including Lord Faulkner (Chairman, Parliamentary All-Party War Heritage Group), Annette Summers (Royal British Legion, County Offices), Councillor Adrian Gregson, Allan Poyner (RBL, Worcester Branch). We had a fascinating “brain-storming” listing a wide range of ideas. We set up a small sub-group to take the planning forward. Send us your ideas.

The Rotary Club of Worcester held its President’s Night Dinner in the Orangery of the Crown & Sandys Hotel in Ombersley. A truly excellent and most enjoyable evening. A sincere “thank you” to the President, Anne Pooley, and Hilary Day and many others who worked so hard for the success of this event.

Saturday 8th: Had our influenza jabs today. Don’t forget yours.

The Midland Festival Chorus was founded in 1975 under the Musical Directorship of Malcolm Goldring. The concert in the packed Cathedral this evening was outstanding. We were treated to the “Magnificat” and “Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D” by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) and the “Great Mass in C Minor” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791).

Sunday 9th: This week’s “Mayor’s Blog” comes to 781 words: now I need to précis it down to about 380 words for my weekly “Mayor’s Diary” for the “Worcester News” and send off this evening. I was taught the art of précis when I was at school: an invaluable skill which sadly seems not to be taught so much these days.

Mayor’s Week, 26 September – 2 October 2011

Mayor’s Week, 26 September – 2 October 2011

Monday 26th: Full Council takes place tomorrow evening so it was important to be briefed adequately about procedure. I met Duncan Sharkey (Managing Director), Doreen Porter (Lawyer) and Claire Neville (Communications Officer) to discuss the agenda. Because of a recent controversy about parking for disabled people and taxi ranks we predicted  a significant public presence at the meeting. To accommodate more people we decided to transfer the meeting to the Assembly Room from the Council Chamber. The Guildhall Staff did a great and hard job moving all the furniture and microphone system.

Tuesday 27th: Lt. Col. Gerry Taggart RE (Retired), Cllr. Roger Berry (Deputy Mayor) and I had our monthly meeting to take forward the planning for Armed Forces Day celebrations next year (30th June 2012) and beyond. Things are progressing slowly but I am sure that we’ll be able to put on a good show to honour our Forces.

Well, we were right! The Assembly Room was packed with probably more than 100 members of the public attending Full Council this evening. That was good! It showed local democracy at work. A little noisy at times but manageable. “Thinking on your feet” when chairing the Council meeting as Mayor is not easy…. you just hope that you have struck the right balance of fairness to all sides and not stifled debate.

Wednesday 28th: The Virgornia Rotary Club meets at 7.15am for breakfast each fortnight. I was asked to give a short talk on “Being Mayor”: a “tall order” as there is so much to tell. Nevertheless it was a pleasure and seemed to go down well.

What’s this? It’s an “Indian Summer”: just the day to consider installing a photovoltaic electricity generation system on my house. So today the second of three companies came to give an estimate. Just a tip: do your research first, make a list of detailed questions, look at other installations and only then decide.

For the five years since 2007, a large number of volunteers have travelled, at their own expense, to Rwanda and Sierra Leone each July to join “Project Umubano”: doctors, nurses, lawyers, business people, teachers and students have visited to help build a lasting legacy in Africa. This year (for two weeks in July/August) there were 120 volunteers. I have had the privilege of being involved from the beginning. Today the Prime Minister gave a Reception at 10, Downing Street, to celebrate these first five years. It was a long way to go for a fairly short event but well worth it to meet old friends with a common interest let alone seeing inside Number 10!!

Thursday 29th: Donald Hunt founded the Elgar Chorale in 1980. He has put together a wonderful outline for a free concert in the Guildhall on 11th. November 2011. It will be a programme of “Words and Music” to mark the 90th. Anniversary of the Royal British Legion. Donald and I met this morning to discuss the programme and arrangements.

“Life Styles” Worcester was established as a charity in 1991 so this year is the 20th. Anniversary and today the AGM was held in Berkeley Hospital. The charity works “to enable disabled people to exercise freedom of choice, extend their horizons and make decisions about lifestyle they wish to pursue”. It was a great pleasure to hand certificates to so many achievers and volunteers.

Friday 30th: I hosted a coffee morning in the Guildhall to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. “One in three of us will get cancer and it’s the toughest thing most of us will ever face. If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or a loved one has, you’ll want a team of people in your corner supporting you every step of the way.  Macmillan Cancer support provides practical, medical and financial support and push for better cancer care.” It is a great charity that many of us may need at some time in our lives.

MacMillan Cancer Support

Saturday 1st: Jane and I are taking four days off!! We’re going to London to see our four-year-old twin grand-daughters… they have a Japanese mum and are becoming rapidly bilingual. It is not likely to be a restful weekend although should be fun.

Mayor’s Week, 19 – 25 September 2011

Mayor’s Week, 19 – 25 September 2011

Monday 19th: Employment among young people is a serious issue. I was therefore pleased to attend an exhibition in the Guildhall put on by a number of local employers many of whom have taken on apprentices. The “Worcester News” got behind this campaign to extend apprenticeship numbers. We heard speeches from a representative of “Worcester Bosch”, Robin Walker, MP and The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Ian Duncan Smith, MP among others. Awards were presented to those who have made a major contribution to apprenticeships.

Today the Royal Grammar School (RGS), Worcester celebrated its 450th. Anniversary of the granting of the Elizabethan Royal Charter in 1561. This was marked by a visit by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal. Jane and I had the honour of being in the welcoming party. The RGS, now combined with the Alice Ottley School, has achieved a great deal both academically and in sport. At one point during our tour I was drawn into an informal practice of lacrosse… not easy in mayoral robes!! However I don’t think I disgraced myself and seemed to remember the technique learned when I played for Oxford University in the1960’s!!!

Tuesday 20th: At the “Promises Auction” held at the Swan Theatre on 14th. July Mrs. Julia Bridges made the maximum bid for “Tea and cakes in the parlour and a tour of the Guildhall”. Today she brought eight friends and we all enjoyed homemade scones by the Mayoress, strawberry jam and cream… tea and cake (also made by the Mayoress!).

Wednesday 21st: Twenty six female students, lead by Jutta Feuerstein, from Hohere Lehranstalt fur wirtschaftluche Berufe (a college for business professions) in Austria are spending a week in Worcester on an educational visit. Of course the Guildhall was on their list! They were impressed by our City and its cleanliness compared with some other places. They just could not understand why anyone would drop litter in their streets… this would not be socially acceptable in Austria!

Thursday 22nd: Rob Byrne is the new Communications Manager for the City Council. I was pleased to welcome him to the parlour for a chat about communications in general. Rob certainly wants to broadcast the good things about our City which fits in well with my priority for this mayoral year.

Friday 23rd: The Annual Awards Ceremony for the Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service took place in the glittering Assembly Room of the Guildhall this evening. As Mark Yates QFSM, Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive, pointed out “This event ….is one of the highlights of the Service’s calendar”. The importance of the event was marked by the presence of Mr. Michael Brinton, Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire and Lady Rosalind Morrison, High Sheriff of Worcestershire. The awards were presented for a variety of achievements including long and meritorious service and a Young Firefighter award, volunteer of the year. It was an evening of pride.

Saturday 24th: A great day! The new Warndon Youth & Community Centre is complete. The old community centre has been transformed into a state of the art modern facility. It is all the result of the Worcester Community Trust, City and County Councils and others working together. I had the pleasure of “cutting the ribbon” with Councillor Ed Moore, Chairman of the County Council.

I am always pleased to support new small local businesses. So Jane and I were very happy to accept Angela Morris’ invitation to attend the opening of the “Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair, Hair and Beauty Salon” in King’s Street.

In spite of the dry Summer what a bumper crop of apples! I spent the afternoon picking apples in my son, Mark’s, garden on the south side of Ankerdine Hill.

Sunday 25th: Over a thousand years Worcester Cathedral has required rebuilding and repairs. Nothing remains of the original building founded in 680 with Bishop Bosel as its head. The current cathedral dates from the 12th and 13th centuries although the crypt dates from the 10th century and the time of St. Oswald, Bishop of Worcester. In the 1970’s it was realized that much work was required on the fabric and especially on the tower. The Worcester Cathedral Appeal was set up in 1988 and over the 20 years since 1991 restoration was carried out. Today there was a special Choral Evensong to celebrate the completion of this work. The Very Reverend Robert Jeffrey, Dean 1987 – 1996, gave a fascinating sermon on the structural work over the last millennium and referred to I Corinthians 3: 1 – 16 (“… a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it.”).

Norman Crypt Worcester Cathedral
Norman Crypt, Worcester Cathedral (Photo from Wikipedia)

Worcester Riverside
We live in a beautiful city


Mayor’s Week, 12 – 18 September 2011

Mayor’s Week, 12 – 18 September 2011

Monday 12th: Worcester is blessed by having many excellent eating places. The new Balti Mahal Restaurant, in Astwood Road, that I helped to open today is another and I am sure will be welcome in that part of the City.

Home-Start Worcester & Wychavon is a charity registered in 1984. Jane and I attended the AGM this evening in the Chapel of Berkeley’s Hospital. It is yet another valuable organization “in which volunteers offer support, friendship and practical help to young families under stress in their own homes helping to prevent family crisis and breakdown, and emphasizing the pleasures of family life”.  At this AGM we heard a talk given by Emma Jordan (Worcestershire PCT Team Leader for Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Services) and Ann Lonbay (Speech, Language and Communication (SLC) Needs Pathway Project Manager) about their work. It was astonishing to learn that in excess of 50% of all school children have SLC problems: this leads to increased risk of later unemployment and crime among other affects on life. For more information see the “Worcestershire SLCN Pathway

Tuesday 13th: No Mayoral engagements today. I spent the morning and afternoon on the City Council’s Scrutiny Committee cross Party panel gathering information from residents about their car parking concerns. It is a huge problem for many but I do hope we do not raise expectations for rapid solutions. The evening was taken up by attending the Scrutiny Committee itself.

Wednesday 14th: A day of anticipation waiting for the post to arrive. But at last I found that all six members of our Worcester City team going to the Adentan Municipal Assembly in Ghana on Saturday have received their visas. This means that the Local Economic Development project (financed through the DfID) will progress adding to the successes of this last year.

The long established firm of solicitors, “Harrison Clark”, held its annual summer “garden” party and celebration in the Assembly Room of the Guildhall this evening. It is not often that Jane and I have the opportunity to meet so many legal professionals!!

Thursday 15th: The day began with a meeting at 9am with the team going to Adentan on Saturday. Everything is now settled: it’s going to be an interesting week helping with the development of the “Adentan News”, the setting up of a “Federation of Businesses”, a course on business management and assistance with a local “Master Plan”.

10am: A meeting with representatives of Noah’s Ark to continue the planning of the fund-raising event in May 2012: a joint venture with the University Business School.

Noon: I “received” the keys of the new minibus acquired by “Worcester Wheels” run by the Worcester Volunteer Centre. This is such a valuable community transport service ably run by Sally Ellison, Hedley Burton and their team.

A quick dash back to the Guildhall for 1pm to welcome 27 American students, from the University of Minnesota Duluth, who are at the University of Worcester on a one year “Study in England Programme”. It is always pleasing to see how thrilled they are with all that they are shown on a tour of the Guildhall. I was fascinated by a comment written by one in my Visitors’ Book: “America!! But England is better”. I told them of the visit, in 1786, by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (who became the second and third presidents respectively of the USA) to Fort Royal Hill and their disappointment of the locals’ lack of knowledge of the Battle of Worcester in 1651: “And do Englishmen so soon forget the ground where liberty was fought for?” The students are now determined to climb the Hill.

Friday 16th: At 9.30am. I saw off the City Council’s team of six to Adentan in Ghana. We wish them a safe flight and look forward to their report on return.

A fund-raising coffee morning in Kerswell Green at 10.30am. before going to Warndon Community Centre for the annual Onam Festival. This is an ancient tradition and the biggest and most important festival of the State of Kerala in south-west India. The Kerala community of Worcester (about 250) celebrate this festival for ten days during the Malaylee month called Chingam (our August – September). It also marks the annual visit of the historic King Mahabali, is a time of thanksgiving for the harvest, a coming together of families, friends and peoples of all communities and new clothes (Onakkodi) and games for the children. A central feature is the nine course meal called Onasadya. Jane and I were privileged to be invited to this celebration day of Thiruvonam and enjoy the ceremony and wonderful vegetarian food

Onam Festival
Happy Onam!

Transition Worcester”, with other Transition Groups in Evesham, Malvern and Pershore, held a conference and exhibition in the Guildhall: “Powering the future: towards sustainable energy”. I was pleased to address briefly the conference at the beginning of the afternoon session. This is an important subject: even if you do not believe in climate change and its effects (and I do believe in them!!) everyone must surely understand that carbon-based energy is finite, discoveries of oil are getting less, prices are rising and at a time when personal money is stretched. So whatever we can do to reduce our consumption must be wise.

Mayor and Mayoress at the Energy Fayre
Powering the future: towards sustainable energy event

Saturday 17th: The Friends of the Swan Theatre presented their sixth annual Variety Show this evening. It was fantastic and included Barry North, Laura Synuck, Sue Black, Academy Dance, Sean McMahon Irish Dancers, Dentith and Price and the Ladies and Gentlemen Ensemble. It was a sell-out. Great fun and great entertainment. “Thank you” to Paul Parker, the Show Producer, and the performers who gave their time freely. The funds raised for the Swan are so vital.

Sunday 18th: One of the special pleasures of being Mayor is going to civic services of neighbouring towns and district councils. Today Jane I attended the Civic Service of Bromsgrove District Council held at The Parish Church of All Saints’. It was conducted by The Rev. Bev Robertson.