Having returned from holiday the Mayoress and I were greeted with a city in a Festival mood and temperatures more reminiscent of Central Europe.
We attended the opening of the annual Flower Show at Gheluvelt Park on Saturday. What a site to behold with many more stalls, good weather and plenty of visitors enjoying the event.
In this week of the tenth annual Worcester Festival it was great to meet so many local people enjoying themselves in the sunshine. We were given a sneak preview of the exhibitors, with cabbages so big it was almost impossible to lift them.
The time and effort put into the exhibition is only to be praised as are the judges, Worcester City Council staff and the volunteers who have worked so hard to make the Flower Show such a success.
Jill and I tried to speak with as many people as possible and quickly built up quite a selection of purchases. Thanks must also go to The Friends of Gheluvelt Park who were entertaining the children with games. Wandering around, we thought there were many more attendees than usual – a great reward for such a well-organised event.
At 4pm we were able to present prizes and meet many of the winners. As an innovation, winners’ cups are to be displayed in a new cabinet in the Guildhall. Congratulations to all who played their part in such an enjoyable day.
A further selection of photos can be found on the Worcester Parks facebook page.
The highlight of this week was the opening of the Worcester Festival, 11 days packed with events, many of which are free. Chris Jaeger and his team have done an enormous amount of work to organise this year’s summer extravaganza.
Saturday’s duck race, in aid of St Richard’s Hospice was great fun. I then spent some time dodging those pesky giant seagulls marauding in the High Street, while looking out for the flash mob.
On Sunday, I went to Granny’s Attic, the Riverside Artists’ Market and Bewdley Concert Band.
Over the coming week, I plan to see Ladies Down Under at the Swan Theatre and The Second Best Bed, at the Commandery. Time permitting, I might also get to From A Monastic Herbal, at the Cathedral and the Battle of Worcester City War Walk. With apologies to the other event organisers, that may be all that I and my walking shoes can manage.
My first few months as Deputy Mayor have been a whirlwind of wonderful events. Like so many of us, I was mesmerised by the Olympics and will be keenly watching the Paralympics for Britain’s Wheelchair Basketball Team, whose performance against the Canadians at the Worcester Wolves court was spectacular. It was a marvellous atmosphere and a rousing Worcester welcome for the torchbearers!
In July, local people crowded the streets again for the royal visit. While the Mayor greeted Her Majesty The Queen and Prince Philip at the Hive and offered them lunch in the Guildhall, I was at the Cathedral for the community celebration, which was packed with school children, community volunteers and dignitaries – not too many big hats, so we got a good view of what was going on. We all sang a chorus of “Worcestershire is our shire” to the tune of Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance”, between dance performances from the county’s schools and readings of Worcestershire history. The Queen and Prince Philip arrived in an extremely shiny Daimler and processed into the Cathedral, led by the Bishop. It was a thrilling day, made all the more memorable by a lot of talented local young people.
Community members turned out in all weathers to celebrate the Jubilee in June. My consort, Phil, and I went to Jubilee parties in Britannia Square and Ronkswood. Britannia Square residents kept a stiff upper lip in the rain but their kind hospitality and community spirit more than made up for the inclement weather. Ronkswood is in my own ward of Nunnery, so the party was like one big reunion in this warm-hearted neighbourhood.
Age UK celebrated their silver anniversary at the same time as the Jubilee with an all-singing, all-dancing party – and I do mean, “all-singing, all-dancing.” Some of the retirees were very graceful dancers. It was hard to keep up with them.
June also saw the Mercians, Royal Hussars and Grenadier Guards stage a marvellous homecoming parade and the awarding of medals to serving soldiers. A few days later, I attended the signing of the local Armed Forces Covenant at County Hall. The covenant represents a commitment to assist and support members of our armed forces as they return home to live or retire.
I’ve especially enjoyed invitations to two local schools, including St George’s Primary School, where I planted a tree in honour of the jubilee. It was a memorable morning. We were treated to a magic show and a performance by the school’s brass band. I also attended a leaving assembly for year six at Red Hill Primary School, which the children had written themselves. It was an emotional occasion, and the singing, dancing and speaking were really impressive.
It’s always a pleasure to attend musical events. At the Five Choirs concert in Kidderminster, we were treated to wonderful arrangements of many favourites, including the African Prayer, Nkosi Sikela. The finale, sung by all five choirs, started with Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys and finished with Guide Me Oh Thou Great Redeemer, to the tune of Cwm Rhonda. The Volcano Choir at the Swan Theatre was equally impressive, with a medley of show tunes and pop songs in a high octane style.
Worcester Civic Service is an annual highlight of the Mayor’s year and it was pleasing to see such a good turn out. It is a time when councillors pause to reflect on what it means to serve the city. We particularly gave some thought to the Mayor’s themes for the year, co-operation and inclusion. The Mayor’s charities were also in our thoughts, namely, St Paul’s Hostel and Maggs.
I’ve been delighted to attended two citizenship ceremonies at County Hall. These are occasions when new British citizens are awarded their citizenship certificates and promise to be faithful citizens. It is a moment of great pride and some emotion.
The St Swithun’s Day service at St Swithun’s Church was a little unnerving at first, because the Mayor or his/her deputy has to sit on a throne-like seat facing the congregation. However, I soon realised that everyone was concentrating on the really beautiful singing and it was easy to do the same. The ceremony was very much like a walk back in time in this lovely restored church, which is a venue for occasional dance or poetry events and organ recitals on Friday lunch times. It is well worth a visit.
The Phillippino Barrio Fiesta was another absolute delight. Marquees with all kinds of businesses and food lined Perdiswell sports field. I hadn’t realised a Phillippino English language newspaper was available in the West Midlands, but have since been able to buy it in a local supermarket. The fiesta organisers, Ms Mary Padilla and Mr Edwin Vargas, did a superb job of bringing the Phillippino community together for what I hope is the first of many more village style fiestas.
The Olympics are over and it’s time to reflect on what a remarkable success it has been. I want to congratulate our local athletes and particularly former King’s School pupil Zac Purchase, who scooped the Silver in the rowing.
But I think congratulations are also due to the many Worcester residents who volunteered at the games, as “game makers”, dancers, trainers and much more. One of our local students, Alex Donaldson, was seen by millions around the world when he was the medal bearer at the ceremony when Usain Bolt was presented with his 100m Gold.
By the time you are reading this I will be on a well-earned break after a busy time. I am already looking forward to the Annual Worcester Festival starting on Friday, with so many activities for young and old alike. I hope to see the programme well- supported and will enjoy what I can, as there are so many interesting events to cater for all tastes.
I was delighted to welcome members of the Worcester Afro-Caribbean Association to the Guildhall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jamaican independence. It was great to see so many happy faces, particularly so soon after we had witnessed Usain Bolt’s incredible Olympics performance. The local association represents people primarily from Worcester and Droitwich and of course is keen to preserve their cultural heritage. I was presented with a framed woven tapestry to mark this happy occasion.
On Thursday I was able to meet Lt Col Turner of The Mercian Regiment, who joined me for tea. He was keen to express the gratitude of the Mercian Regiment to the city, particularly for the reception the troops received at the Freedom parade in June, when hundreds of local people had lined the streets to welcome home these brave men and women. Worcester has always been a good recruiting base for the army and around 100 new recruits sign up here every year. We discussed the Armed Forces Covenant and how district councils can play their part in helping soldiers re-adjust to civilian life.
Later I attended a pre-meeting of Trustees at The Porcelain Museum, as I shall be away for the full meeting. As Mayor I am an ex-officio trustee for a year only. The next agenda will include the annual accounts and information about a potential bid for funding from The National Lottery. This fine Museum is well worth a visit as it has a national reputation. My thanks are due to Amanda Savidge, the museum’s director, and Sam Driver White, Chairman of the trustees.
While I am on my break, Deputy Mayor Pat Agar, will be stepping up. In next week’s blog she will be reflecting on her experiences.
Not the busiest week with only one official engagement so I thought I would use my column as an opportunity to reflect upon the week and express a personal view on what opportunities We should take here in Worcester.
The week has of course been dominated by The Olympics and the excellent media coverage of the events; disappointments and successes have been well covered. We now need to concentrate on the legacy and the opportunities it should present, to young and old living within the City. The City’s Sport’s team have been active in organising mini-Olympics, free multi-sports and Play activities all over the City, throughout the school holidays, at a venue near you!
Not only does the City have excellent Sports, Swimming and Community centres, we have an environment second to none. What can be more enjoyable than walking the riverside from Bevere to Diglis? Exploring along the Worcester to Birmingham Canal? Walk Duck Brook or Laugherne Brook Enjoy the greenspaces, sites of special scientific interest and city woodlands at Nunnery, Perrywood, Warndon and Tolladine?
I think the ball has to be placed firmly in our court, and to see how We can take advantage of the opportunities there are, all of which have a known health benefit. A bit of regular exercise is well known to benefit us all, it also provides an opportunity to meet with others and enjoy wildlife and the City environment.
I have been able to catch-up on some domestic tasks; car cleaning, putting insulation in the loft and gardening as well as continuing with my duties as a ward Councillor. How satisfying to hear that a young mother with three chuildren has been rehoused in new Social housing in St Johns! The need for accomodation is crucial for a family-life!
My attendance, as Mayor, was The 30th Annual WODY’S production of Me and My Girl at The Swan on Thursday evening accompanied by my daughter in Law, Trudy. What a production with well over 60 participents of all ages, under 16.The Principals were excellent, as were the dancers and chorus! Our thanks to Gloria Chapman President, David Humphries Producer and Director. A production of this type involves so many people backstage, the performers and parents who must spend many hours escorting and taking youngsters to rehearsals.
The week has been a rip-roaring success, a sell out and a great opportunity to see a musical which appealed to all ages. Thanks again for the opportunity to join with you and celebrate 30 years of success, here’s to the next 30!
Saturday, I visited a National “Truth about Youth” celebration, by the Prince’s Trust in Bristol in my role as Trustee of The Co-operative Community Foundation.
I shall shortly be having a week away so my next columns will include my deputy Pat Ager who has been such a valuable Deputy.