Early this week, I chaired a planning meeting for the commemoration of World War 1. Starting next year, the Worcester commemoration is expected to be the largest outside London.
Mid-week saw us at the West Midlands Young Enterprise finals at Worcester University. Entrepreneurs from Kings School had already made an astounding profit in excess of £1,000 from making and selling pewter jewellery – look out for Wigwam products in fashion and jewellery outlets!
On Thursday Starr’s Circus were raising funds for Acorns Hospice. We were treated to agile and daring performances by Khazakstani and Kenyan acrobats, a Ukranian Lady who balanced a tower of glasses on a knife tip while climbing a ladder, a Romanian lady trapeze artist and a really wonderful clown. We will certainly go again when they are in town.
Sinister stories and poems about the number thirteen delighted literature fans at the launch of Worcester Literature Festival on Friday. We now have a new Worcestershire Poet Laureate in Tim Cranmore. Congratulations also to our new Poet Laureate Emeritus, Maggie Doyle. Don’t miss the exciting programme put together by festival founder, Lisa Ventura and her team!
Local Rotarians attracted a lot of attention on Saturday with their annual “Boardwalk,” a parade of sandwich boards advertising local businesses.
During the afternoon, I enjoyed the Girl Guiding Showcase at Hanley Swann and got a first hand view of camping and barbequing. Their cakes were terrific, too!
Phil and I ended the week with the intrepid Race for Life runners, who have raised a staggering £200,000 for cancer research. Well done, ladies! It was a superb effort.
Our last engagement was the wedding and reception – “Walima” – of Rahena Sultana and Rezwan Rahman at Perdiswell. Mubarak! (Congratulations!) and best wishes for your new life together.
Worcester and District Scout Group have had an action packed year, with a huge range of activities and achievements, including a new Queen’s Scout. It was an honour to chair their Annual General Meeting. No wonder they have a waiting list of 114 young people waiting to join!
Later in the week, St George’s Primary School and their Spanish exchange students joined me for a tour of the Guildhall. They particularly enjoyed their tour of the cells and trying on the mayoral regalia.
Sight Concern have mounted a truly impressive art exhibition at The Commandery, and I was delighted to attend their special preview evening. Window On Our World includes work of breathtaking quality – you will want to buy their prints and post cards – they are irresistible!
Thursday was a day of endings and beginnings – the Mercian Regiment received their new colours from HRH Prince Charles. It was a memorable spectacle to see the old colours publicly paraded for the last time before being laid up in the Cathedral the following day.
The regiment now has a new colonel and when it returns from Afghanistan next year, one of its four battalions will be retired. Their regimental mascot, Derby the ram, is also retiring, due to arthritis.
At the end of the parade, families and friends cheered the regiment off the field and roared a welcome to the veterans’ march past. It was a magnificent and moving occasion.
My week ended with the Wild Goose Open Day and Story Telling at Top Barn, tea in the parlour with members of the Home Guard, the Mayor of Bewdley’s civic service and a service of thanksgiving at the Cathedral to celebrate 60 years since HM The Queen’s coronation.
Each year, the Guildhall receives a lot of international guests, but this week saw the arrival of two very special Australian visitors with a personal connection to Worcester and to the Guildhall.
Mr Garry Convery and his aunt, Mrs Grace Alettin, came in search of their ancestor, John Skeen. Mr Skeen was convicted at the Lent Assizes in 1819 – held in the Guildhall – and transported to Australia. It was that decision that led, generations later, to my visitors being born in Australia.
Mr Convery and Mrs Alettin were able to see the Mayor’s Parlour, which was used as a court room at the start of the 19th Century, and the cells under the Guildhall, where John Skeen would have been held before his trial.
Since then, Mr Convery has sent us further details of John Skeen’s story, which will be added to the Guildhall archive.
Many thanks to Mr Convery and Mrs Alettin for sharing their family history with us. Tours of the cells will never seem the same again, now that I know of such a personal connection to them.
As I was away for part of the week, some of my duties were taken on by the Deputy Mayor, Paul Denham.
Paul Denham writes:
As Worcester’s contribution to National Volunteer Week, 40 voluntary groups descended on the Guildhall on Friday. The purpose was to attract new volunteers and share ideas. I heard how volunteers really enjoyed helping local people to cope with illness, old age, loneliness and money worries, and how carers are supported.
This small army of volunteers provides services not available from councils or government and they all deserve our heartfelt thanks.
The Swan Theatre was filled with sounds of the 1970s by Voices Unlimited singing to a full house on Saturday evening.
This fantastic, energetic city vocal group of 120, coached by Ria Keen, raised the roof. Elvis Presley was brought back to life by Kevin Paul and the deputy Mayoress and I thoroughly enjoyed this nostalgic two hour rollercoaster.
My Mayoral week began with a particularly pleasant invitation to judge a speech competition at St Barnabas Primary School.
Younger contestants recited poems and older competitors gave talks on the theme, “My Favourite Modern Invention.” X – Boxes, mobile phones, karate, and even a well-known brand of make up were among the favourite inventions chosen.
By the end of the morning, I was better informed about all of these inventions, and greatly impressed by the standard of speaking and research.
Such competitions take place thanks to a partnership between local Rotarians and city schools.
On Tuesday, over 40 people became British Citizens in a ceremony at County Hall. They took an oath and received certificates of citizenship.
Citizenship Ceremonies can be quite emotional occasions – when we concluded with the National Anthem, I am sure there was not a dry eye in the room.
Congratulations to all our new citizens living in Worcestershire!
Later in the week, I witnessed the opening of bids for the next stage of planning for the new swimming pool. There is still a long way to go before the council make a decision, but we are one step nearer.
My Consort, Phil, and I ended our week with Mayor-Making in Kidderminster. Stepping down were Mayor John Aston and the Mayoress, Mrs Madeline Craddock, who had raised £12,000 for charity during the year. The new Mayor, Councillor John Campion, was formally invested and took the oath of office.
I also managed to have coffee and cake with Worcester Lions, who organise two or three coffee mornings a year at the Guildhall, raising thousands of pounds for local charities annually. I can recommend the coffee and walnut cake.