What a week! Weather dominated much of the middle part, and was responsible for many cancelled events. We must spare a thought for those plucky souls who keep the city moving, often working through the night and risking life and limb to do their duty.
We started the week with a meeting of the Mayor’s charity partners in the Parlour. Our next event, a Homelessness Action Day, is to be held in the Guildhall next Saturday 26th January, from 10.00am to 4.00pm. It will be an opportunity for people to meet those with first hand experience of working with the homeless, and to find out about volunteering opportunities with these organisations.
I feel it is important not just to give to charities, but also to understand something about the cause of homelessness and to tackle some of the prejudices we all have. Our Action Day will be branded Homeless, not Helpless!
After the meeting we drove to London, in particularly challenging weather conditions. We had been invited by Robin and Charlotte Walker to visit the House of Commons for dinner the following evening. Thanks to my brother and his wife for providing overnight accommodation.
We very much enjoyed our visit to London, where temperatures were just above freezing. Robin and Charlotte entertained us to dinner in The House, and afterwards showed us around an empty House of Commons which had just adjourned for the day. I never cease to be amazed by Central Lobby and the atmosphere there. I enjoyed seeing the murals and statues, which are so much part of the nation’s history.
After the return journey across snow-swept scenery, we were able to undertake several pressing domestic tasks at home. Then on Thursday, I attended a meeting of the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust’s Community Engagement Committee at Shrub Hill House. It was good to meet voluntary representatives and members of the Executive, and explore some of the local pressing issues in more detail. This was part of my duties as an HOSC member.
The bad weather finally defeated me, and I was unable to attend a press briefing about plans for our Homelessness Action Day on Friday. I am grateful to those who did attend in such difficult weather conditions.
On Saturday I was able to attend the 55 plus retirement roadshow at the Guildhall. I was able to talk with many of the interesting stallholders who provide such a wealth of information to those approaching retirement. As a social worker, I always thought I had a good understanding of the role of different agencies, but I still found plenty more to interest me. The weather unfortunately had impacted upon attendance and the city centre appeared almost deserted at times!
During the evening, Jill and I attended The Eucharist for St Wulstan’s Day, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the consecration and dedication of the Parish Church of St Wulstan in Warndon. The Right Reverend David Walker, Bishop of Dudley, was the preacher.
It was lovely to meet members of the congregation afterwards, and listen to their stories of the early establishment of the church, which originally met in a member of the congregation’s own house. Thanks to PCC Secretary Margaret Probert and members of the congregation for such a warm welcome on a cold evening.
Christmas Day was a particularly memorable one for us. We had an enjoyable trip around the wards at Worcestershire Royal Hospital during the morning; it was fantastic meeting staff and many of the proud mums and dads who had had newborn babies in the maternity unit. Essential services rely on the dedication of their staff, particularly on Christmas Day!
After an enjoyable break, the New Year has begun with a succession of planning meetings. Last Monday, we met with the Worcester Rotary Club to make final plans for the annual Mayoral Charity Banquet on Friday 8 March. The theme will be musicals, and we are delighted that the Worcester Operatic & Dramatic Society’s cabaret team will be on hand to launch the evening. Tickets are now available from the Mayor’s Secretary, Susan O’Kane on 01905 722001.
The following morning I paid a visit to our U3A Local History Group, where John Stafford gave an excellent presentation on the Worcester – Birmingham Canal.
Over lunchtime, we welcomed representatives from local businesses and the voluntary sector to a new Year’s Drinks Party in the Parlour. It was great to meet so many friends and representatives from across the City.
On Wednesday I attended a meeting of the Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust at Stourport Sports Club – part of my duties as a member of the County Scrutiny body for the local NHS.
Thursday saw me in the garden, doing some of the neglected winter jobs. What an excellent service there is at the local Bilford Road re-cycling centre!
The next day I welcomed members of Worcester U3A Walking Group, who enjoyed a tour of the Guildhall and Parlour. We then went to a most enjoyable buffet lunch at “Spires”, the training restaurant for the College of Technology, where students do all the catering and provide the service.
Later in the afternoon I chaired a meeting of the WW1 Planning Committee in the Parlour. We have submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery, and await the outcome. Plans are being developed for the centenary of World War 1. We really need to engage with members of the public and local voluntary groups and it was agreed to launch a further period of public consultation led by Paul Harding, starting on 9 February.
The morning was bitterly cold on Saturday. We helped St Pauls Hostel for the Homeless by collecting donations at Sainsbury’s in St Johns, in aid of their service and the local Night Assessment Centre at the YMCA. There was an excellent exhibition and shoppers were generous in their support of these essential projects.
It is particularly important to recognise that the problems of homelessness occur throughout the whole year and not just at Christmas. We are holding a “Homeless not Helpless” Action Day at the Guildhall on Saturday 26 January (10.00am – 4.00pm). Our aim is to showcase the statutory and voluntary organisations who are there to help, and we also hope to tackle some of the myths around the subject of homelessness. Please come if you can – the event is free and everyone is welcome.
I’ve enjoyed a few days’ respite over the last week, after a hectic festive period! In the run-up to Christmas we helped the Worcester Rotary Club members with their annual seasonal appeal. Jill and I met members from across Worcester who were busy bringing in donations, sorting them, and preparing them for distribution. We were impressed with the logistical expertise and warmth from so many people, all working extremely hard to meet a tight deadline. What a wonderful way of celebrating Christmas!
Later we were joined by Cllr Lucy Hodgson and Kathy Leather at Berkley’s Almshouses, where we helped distribute the donations to needy recipients. I am so impressed with the whole programme, which has been running for many years.
At lunchtime we joined the Rotary Club of Worcester for their annual Christmas lunch at the Worcestershire County Cricket Club. Many thanks go to Nigel Wake, for making us feel so welcome.
Later that same day, Jill and I attended the Worcester and District Scout Council Carol Service at the Cathedral. What an evening! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, as did the rest of the congregation who made “animal noises” to fit in with the Nativity Play! Congratulations to the 8th Worcesters, who hosted the event.
We also watched the St Peters pre-school Nativity play at the Village Hall. There was hardly a dry eye in the house! We thoroughly enjoyed it; thanks go to Sandy Ditchburn for the organisation of the event.
That evening, we attended the “Word for the World” carol service at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College; the orchestra and readers were all excellent.
Just about found time to squeeze in some Christmas shopping! Then it was on to attend Berkley’s annual Christmas lunch for residents at the Whitehouse Hotel, and the Annual General Meeting of the Worcester Community Trust at the Green Centre.
The following day it was straight on to a tour of key sites in the city as part of the masterplan for Worcester, before attending a full meeting of the City Council’s Planning Committee.
The annual Worcester News traditional Christmas Carol Service at the Cathedral is always an unmissable event! Editor Peter John, Trevor Sallis and I all gave Christmas readings. Afterwards we adjourned to the Mayor’s Parlour at The Guildhall and enjoyed some mulled wine and mince pies.
My last official engagement before Christmas was a visit to the Cathedral for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, with readers from throughout the City. It was packed out and is clearly appreciated by the many worshippers. My thanks go to the Dean, who led the service.
Now a little time for a well-earned rest! Wishing all Worcester News readers a very happy and healthy New Year.
I had an early start to the week, joining other local civic leaders to celebrate a new Sunday rail service to Birmingham and Hereford. The Cotswold Line Promotion Group sponsored the event and Cllr Rob Adams, the County Chair, waived off the Birmingham train while I simultaneously waived off the 9-05 to Hereford. Lord Richard Faulkner and Julian Palfrey had arranged the event, which was well supported by officers from London Midland.
During the afternoon, Jill and I presented prizes to winners at the Droitwich winter archery tournament held at Royal Grammar School Worcester, in Little London. It was interesting to meet competitors who were from a wide age range, and most welcoming! I confess to being unaware about the technical details of this popular sport.
On Monday Jill and I were welcomed by Biddie Furlong to the KGV Sports and Community Centre, where we joined members of the Grandee Club for Christmas Lunch. Biddie and her family members have been organising this event for over 50 years and clearly her efforts are well appreciated. It was great to meet local residents and join them in this annual event.
Later that evening I chaired the meeting of the Full Council, where we approved the South Worcestershire Development Plan for further examination. Councillors then joined me in the parlour for seasonal refreshments.
The following day I attended the annual Christmas event with my local U3A History Group and Wednesday saw me going to a meeting of the Grants Committee of Consolidated Charity, where we celebrated a special birthday for one of our long-serving members, Cliff Lord.
I attended the Christmas meeting of Voluntary Organisations of Worcester on Thursday, where Sally Ellison updated members on local news of concern to the voluntary sector. This is an important meeting for voluntary organisations in the city, and provides a good networking opportunity.
During the evening we hosted a fund raising concert, “the Joys of Christmas”, performed by Worcester Elgar Chorale with readings by Gabrielle Bullock and Tim Watson. It was clearly enjoyed by all, and we thank the Chorale and Dr Donald Hunt for such a fantastic evening. Thanks to all those who supported the two Mayoral charities to help the homeless.
On Friday a chest infection forced me to cancel a visit to see Miss Saigon at Worcester’s VI Form College, but by Saturday I was well enough to attend the annual Christmas Fayre of ONSIDE at The Guildhall. This local charity offers an advocacy service to vulnerable members of the community. It was pleasing to note how well supported the event was.