Mr Mayor's diary: February 2010
Sunday 28 February
After a good rest the Mayoress and I attended our first match of the season at Sedgeley Park which was a bit of a disappointment as Swinton Lions were well beaten 38 - 20 by their neighbours Oldham. It was an exciting match which saw Swinton come from behind just before half-time only to subside in the second half. Hopefully they will put this defeat behind them and go on to greater things in the rest of the season.
Friday 26 February
After lots of planning and very hard work by Elaine Watts, the Mayor's Secretary, and others over many weeks, tonight was the highlight of our fundraising year and indeed probably our year overall - the Mayor of Salford's Charity Ball at Buile Hill Park Banqueting Suite.
What an amazing night! Lots of bow ties in evidence as well as best frocks. My daughters looked absolutely beautiful and their boyfriends didn't look too bad either. Corporate guests as well as family and friends mingled with all the Mayors and Mayoresses of Greater Manchester as well as the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff - a fabulous turnout. I felt immensely proud as the Mayoress and I were clapped into the venue.
After a brilliant meal supplied by Citywide catering we had an auction which raised over £1,000 and then some entertainment from my old favourites Stagecraft of Cadishead - three of the youngsters danced to ‘Bad Girls' and then Carole Bennett, who runs and inspires Stagecraft, spun her own magic web with her beautiful voice taking us on a tour through show tunes and then some more up to date songs. The evening rounded off with a disco and even I managed to do some dancing which is very rare!!
The whole evening raised over £3,900 towards my charities which means we must have nearly £35,000 so far and we are well on to beating my revised target of £40k by the time my Mayoral year ends in May. I cannot thank everyone enough who helped to organise the event or who came and really threw themselves into things.
I left at 1.00am but there were people still there who obviously wanted things to go on even longer. What a night a real highlight of a year in which there have been so many amazing things to remember.
Thursday 25 February
For our only engagement today the Mayoress and I kept it local with a visit to Fledglings Day Nursery in Fiddlers Lane, Irlam. The reason for our invitation was to celebrate the 20th anniversary celebrations of the nursery. We were met by Chris Gray who is the owner of the nursery and he very proudly escorted us on a guided tour before we helped to cut the cake and pose for photos with children and staff.
The nursery seemed an ideal environment for young children with lots of colourful displays, toys and an outside play area which must be fantastic in summer.
Wednesday 24 February
In what was to be quite a quiet week we had three engagements today. First of all we went to the Lowry Hotel to lend some civic muscle to a Carbon Trust ‘Best Advice' event which was aimed at getting local media interested in the ideas behind reducing carbon emissions.
It was a low key affair at the Lowry Hotel but was a useful insight into what initiatives are going on to help reduce these harmful emissions so we can do our best to reduce global warming.
The second engagement was a welcome opportunity to meet up with the wonderful people from the Seedley and Langworthy in Bloom Group. We had last seen them in Southport when they won the NW Regeneration In Bloom Award and I was keen to catch up with what they had been doing and to find out their plans for next year.
We had a really good session, enjoyed our afternoon tea and the group also had an opportunity to brush up on their knowledge about Salford's civic history. It was great to see the group members again and the Mayoress and I take particular pleasure in wishing them every success later on this year when their efforts will again be judged in the Britain in bloom contest.
Tuesday 23 February
Another 100th birthday party today. This time the lucky lady, it always seems to be ladies, was Louise Jackson who lives with her husband at Abbeydale Nursing Home in Eccles.
I took Louise a box of chocolates which was very well received and we had a few words before the entertainment started. This was very unusual as it featured a local belly dancing specialist leading an ad hoc troupe which included the owner of the home who was quite accomplished at this unique form of dancing.
We had a nice chat to Louise and her husband as well as to Geraldine Lythgoe the owner and some of her staff before we left to let everyone get on with the rest of the party.
Saturday 20 February
Only one event today as the Mayoress and I travelled to Southport as the guests of the trustees of the Salfordian for their annual dinner.
This was another event which had had to be postponed due to the bad weather in January but the menu was the same - eating turkey and pulling crackers in February did seem a bit strange but enjoyed a hearty meal before being entertained by a singer from Stockport.
Although we were a little late in arriving we did manage to squeeze in a tour round the hotel which has recently been extensively upgraded and now provides an affordable holiday venue for older Salford residents in warm and friendly surroundings.
Friday 19 February
We welcomed another Mayor's Citizen's Award winner today - this time in the children's category. Many of you will already have heard of Matthew Koon from his appearances on the Sky TV programme Got To Dance.
Matthew reached the final of the contest but lost out on the public vote. Obviously getting a Mayor's Citizen's prize was some consolation and Matthew and his parents and some school friends came to the parlour so I could present him with his award. He told me of his plans for the future and although he has a number of auditions coming up with highly prestigious ballet companies he also has a Plan B and continues to study hard - just in case.
He seemed extremely focussed and both the Mayoress and I hope he does really well in the future. We know he will be giving it his best shot.
Thursday 18 February
A busy day today with three engagements getting back to the sorts of levels of activity we were used to before Christmas.
The first engagement was a real pleasure as we welcomed Lucas Loriente and his grandparents into the parlour. Lucas had been nominated for the Mayor's Citizen's Award but had been unsuccessful but I still wanted to learn a bit more about him.
Lucas plays a very important role in looking after his Mum and it was a real pleasure to meet with him and to wish him and his mother all the best for the future.
We went straight from our meeting with Lucas to catch up with the Unity Group in Little Hulton. We had been scheduled to go to a Christmas party the group were holding but we were prevented from doing so by the appalling weather in early January.
We were warmly welcomed and had an opportunity to talk to some of the members we had met previously as well as some newcomers. We also enjoyed some delicious food which had been cooked specially for the event.
This group is doing some amazing cross-cultural work and it was really good to see them working together. They were obviously very pleased to see us and we posed for loads of pictures before we wished the group well for the future and took our leave.
In the evening the Mayoress and I went to the Belle Vue TA Centre for the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester's Cadet Poppy Appeal Awards. The awards were given to cadets in either the air, sea or army cadets who had raised the most money by selling poppies during the RBL's Poppy Appeal.
There were a host of winners with some of the cadets raising several thousand pounds on their own, which given the current economic climate, is really amazing.
The awards ceremony was conducted in proper military fashion with the cadets marching up to the Lord Lieutenant before saluting and then receiving their award - for someone who cannot march it was very impressive. The evening was rounded off with pie and peas which was very well received by all the guests and the cadets themselves!
Wednesday 17 February
I spent most of today chairing a meeting of the full council. This was a special meeting to discuss the budget and took place against a background of some publicity about the use of Twitter in meetings.
I was pleased to see a representative from the Salford Advertiser in the chamber and I hope her tweets to the outside world gave her readers a good idea of what was being said.
Thankfully all members respected the decision of the three party leaders to ask people not to join in any debates whilst in the council chamber and left their comments until there was a break or at the end of the meeting.
Tuesday 16 February
My first engagement was to make the latest in my series of webcasts. This was the second of these which I had done with the help of Salford Online and having just looked at the results of the Salford City Council website I am completely blown away.
They have linked most of the engagements I have mentioned to their own video footage which makes for a much more engaging experience than just watching me talking to the camera for five or six minutes.
I am only sorry we did not get this idea until so late in the year but hopefully we will be able to put together a bit of an extravaganza for my end of year retrospective!
After the webcast the Mayoress and I joined up with our good friend the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester for the latest of our Citizenship ceremonies.
As always it was a great pleasure to welcome another group of people from all over the world to citizenship, firstly of Salford but ultimately the United Kingdom. I am sure they will all be working in the future to help make our city a better place for us all to live.
Monday 15 February 2010
Today the Mayoress and I, along with most of the other Mayors and Mayoresses in Greater Manchester, spent the day being shown round Stockport.
We started at the Hat Works which is a fascinating Museum which chronicles the history of hatting in Stockport. They have some amazing exhibits and it is really strange to realise that not so long ago hats were commonplace whereas now they seem to be reserved for very special occasions. I am not an expert on Stockport and although I knew something about the town's involvement with the hat industry I knew nothing about the second place we visited - Stockport's Air Raid Shelters!
These were commenced even before war was declared and consist of a number of very long tunnels dug through the sandstone underneath the Town Centre. They are still in remarkably good condition and are the venue for almost continuous school visits during term time. The guides seemed to be very knowledgeable and I am sure they made the visit very memorable for the pupils.
We all learnt a lot about this unique facility although I do not think I would have liked to spend too long down there as it was rather damp and probably, at the time, rather dark! After an excellent lunch we spent the rest of our trip looking round Bramhall Hall which is a black and white timber framed manor house some of which dates back to the 14th century.
We certainly enjoyed a fascinating day in Stockport and brought back information on other tourist locations which we will have to explore when more time is available after the end of May!
Sunday 14 February
For our only engagement today the Mayoress and I attended the celebrations at the start of the Year of the Tiger. We started off with a very hectic but enjoyable meal at the Pearl City restaurant and then we threaded our way through the crowds to get to a heated marquee where we able to watch the speeches and entertainment.
Even though it was a very cold afternoon there was a huge turnout to watch the massive 175ft long dragon and be amazed by the firecrackers that seemed to be going off all around. After the dragon had left the arena we were entertained by some amazing artistes - a young woman who juggled a table with her feet!; a Shaolin monk who broke iron bars into several fragments using his head and some acrobats who defied logic with their achievements. Altogether a brilliant afternoon to set the year of the Tiger off with a bang.
I was born in the year of the Pig which means I have an innocent, sweet and lovable personality although apparently I have a tendency to be quite melancholy and over sensitive! Thank you to the Federation of Chinese Associations of Manchester (FCAM) for a fantastic afternoon.
Friday 12 February
An early start for our only engagement today which was to present two awards at Barton Moss Community Primary School: the Inclusion Quality Mark and the Safer Schools Gold Award. After a very tricky photo call which involved me negotiating ill-fitting cycle safety helmets and a BMX bike whilst making the presentations we were entertained by a year three whole school assembly on the Rainforest.
A lot of hard work had gone into the assembly involving costumes and research of all the facts and figures that were mentioned. The Mayoress and I were very impressed and are really looking forward to entertaining some pupils from the school in the parlour in the near future. Thanks to Kelly Morgan, Head teacher, for the invitation and congratulations to her and to all the children for their excellent behaviour during the whole of our visit.
Thursday 11 February
During the day I went to a meeting of my Charity Committee where we made last minute arrangements for our Charity Ball at the end of the month and also to announce the latest total for our fundraising activities.
Everyone was really pleased that, with several big events to go, we have raised nearly £30,000 so far. We are really grateful to everyone who has made this possible as this money will make such a difference to the charities which we are fundraising for St Ann's and The Salford Young Carer's Project.
After the meeting the Mayoress and I went to visit the Eastern Tandoori Restaurant Church Street Eccles to celebrate the restaurant being Given a Gold Award by Quality Food Online in recognition of the standard of presentation and service provided to the local community for the last 40 years. Joining in the celebrations were the landlords of some of the local public houses all of whom were regular customers and obviously fans of the restaurant's food!
After we had all had our photos taken for the Advertiser we were treated to an excellent meal. A huge plate of starters was followed by chicken jalfrezi and a lamb bhuna both of which were excellent. I will certainly be visiting the Eastern Tandoori again and we would like to thank Mr Islam Khan for his generosity.
Wednesday 10 February
Only one engagement today and that was a further visit to St Ann's Hospice to help with the staff and volunteer long service awards. It was just about a year ago when we attended a similar event and I decided that I wanted to make St Ann's one of my charities for the year. It was great to be back again and to meet up with Terry McDonnell, Chief Executive, and some brilliant volunteers who give so much time to help other people at such traumatic times in their lives.
The evening started with a lovely buffet and then Terry and I really enjoyed giving out the awards and posing for loads of photographs with these remarkable people.
Before I left I was able to visit the mother of one of my close friends who was a patient at the Hospice. She recognised me and we had quite a good conversation - sadly a day or so later she passed away but I was really glad I was able to see her and bring a smile to her face. Both she and her family had only praise for the service they were receiving from the Hospice which is really good to hear.
Tuesday 9 February
Today was spent as the guests of the Mayor and Mayoress of Rochdale touring their borough. I must link to the Co-Operative Movement. Our tour started at the Esplanade where we had a look round the museum and art gallery before a short coach trip to the Rochdale Pioneers Museum in Toad Lane.
We had a short talk giving us the history of the shop in which the Museum is located which was the birthplace of the Co-Operative Movement which has now spread across the world. The original Pioneers had to work very hard to open the shop and bring fairly priced goods free from adulteration to the people of Rochdale. They have some wonderful artefacts in the museum and it is well worth a visit.
After lunch we went to see the largest working steam engine in the world at Ellenroad Engine House in Newhey. What a beast! The engine which was rescued and is now run by a group of volunteers is magnificent. In its day it powered five floors of machines each of which was 175 yards long. It is, I was told, about ten times the size of the engine at Styal Mill which you may have gone to.
The engine was steamed up especially for the visiting dignitaries and we were also there to witness the firing up of a newly restored Marsden engine, Eleanor Nightingale, which had not run since 1988. What an amazing place. It is only open to the public one day a month but really deserves our support both as a very important part of our heritage but also as a reward for the effort of the remarkable people who keep the engines running.
The Mayoress and I really enjoyed our day out and I will definitely be visiting Rochdale again to spend more time looking at museum and marvelling at the amazing steam engines!
Monday 8 February
Back to the cathedral again this evening to attend the launch of an Interfaith Marriage Exhibition organised by the Mothers' Union in Manchester. After a short service, an address from Bishop Mark of Middleton and a blessing from Rabbi Silverman all the guests were able to look round the exhibition which consisted of a series of displays depicting marriage in a variety of faiths - Jewish, Hindu, Christian etc.
The organisers had certainly put a lot of effort into the exhibits and the Mayoress and I certainly learnt a lot about how other religions celebrate marriage in their communities.
Sunday 7 February
Our first engagement today involved another visit to Manchester Cathedral for a very grand service to celebrate the Queen's Accession to the Throne. It was arranged by the Lord Lieutenant and the Cathedral was packed with packed with representatives of all of the Army Cadet Units across Greater Manchester. After the service all the assembled dignitaries gathered at the front of the Cathedral to receive the salute from the Cadets as they marched past.
Without hardly pausing for breath the Mayoress and I sped off to a concert by the Salford Symphony Orchestra which was in aid of the Mayor's charities. The programme was based on the Last Night of the Proms and featured a number of old favourites and the packed audience also had the chance to join in with ‘Land of Hope and Glory' as well as ‘Rule Britannia'.
The orchestra was in fine form and I am sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed the concert. I managed to get a programme of their future events and will certainly try and get along to some other concerts this year. I do not think Salford Symphony Orchestra get enough publicity, they certainly deserve it, and grateful thanks to them from the Mayoress and myself for all their hard work.
Saturday 6 February
After watching United's decimation of Portsmouth in the afternoon the Mayoress accompanied me to the Mayor of Rochdale's Ball in the evening.
Rochdale's Town Hall is very impressive and on the grand scale similar to Manchester's Town Hall. The Victorians knew a thing or two about building massive monuments to their civic pride and Rochdale's is no exception.
The event was kicked off by a corps of marching drums which was not only very colourful but also rather deafening in a comparatively small space. We had very nice meal accompanied by a string quartet followed by a big raffle and auction but we left before the dancing got going as it was getting rather late. In any event the High Sheriff and the Sheriffina had their dancing shoes on and they are really good so we didn't really want to be shown up!
Friday 5 February
Our first engagement today was a very moving commemoration of National Holocaust Memorial Day held in the Compass Room at The Lowry. It consisted of students from many of the High Schools in Salford hearing first hand about the dreadful events during the Second World War which have come to be described as the Holocaust.
There were two speakers one who was a child at that time and who spoke of how his mother had been affected and the other, Jack, spoke from the heart about his experiences as a Polish Jew of being carted around Poland and Germany in the most dreadful conditions being treated little better than an animal and being saved from certain death by the arrival of Russian troops where he was being held.
There was hardly a dry eye in the room and the students behaved magnificently listening intently and hearing, probably for the first time, of the real horrors of the Nazi treatment of the Jews and heeding the warning that racist groups must not be allowed to spread their message of hatred in the 21st century.
Giving awards to well deserving people who work hard in their communities has been a feature of our time as both Mayor and Deputy and so it was a real pleasure to be invited to attend the Salix Homes Community Stars Awards for the second time.
It was a very glitzy affair back in the Compass Room at The Lowry and we even had Kirk, from Corrie, in attendance to act as MC. He did a brilliant job and we all heard a lot about a host of people who work tirelessly to make their part of Salford a better place to live and were being given an award to show how well received their efforts are.
Councillor Joe Murphy even managed to get in a plug for my Mayor's Ale which meant we shifted another five boxes on the night. A very good atmosphere and a lot of very happy people at the end of the night as they knew their efforts were all worthwhile.
Thursday 4 February
Today the Mayoress and I had the great pleasure of welcoming Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall to Salford. This was our third meeting with royalty this year; previously we had met HRH Princess Anne as well as the Duke of Kent. I am told that this was Prince Charles' first visit to Salford in twenty years and at one and a half hours it was the longest visit of the whole day when they also visited Manchester, Trafford and Tameside!
The visit to Salford Lads and Girls Club had two aims: the first was to celebrate the achievements of the club which, after quite a difficult few years has emerged in a much healthier state and with a partially renovated building which really looks the part; and the second was for the Prince to make a speech launching ‘Youth United' in the North West in front of an audience representing practically every youth organisation in the area from Guides to Air Training Cadets and the list goes on.
After the initial wait a huge convoy of cars, police outriders and other personnel arrived outside the club and the Prince emerged and after our brief welcome was escorted into the club and got on with the important business of meeting the young people who had assembled inside. Once again having met a famous person I was very impressed by how down to earth he was. When you see the royal family on the TV they seem rather remote and aloof but nothing could have been further from the truth as he played pool and generally communicated really well with the young people.
They were obviously impressed when I spoke to them and the HRH's visit was a brilliant success for the club and also for Salford as it marked a further step forwards for our people and our reputation on the national stage. I am getting quite used to being on the TV now although I was very disappointed at the coverage the BBC gave to the Salford part of the visit - hopefully that will change in the future when more of their production facilities are based here.
Wednesday 3 February
The day started with another visit to the Bridgewater Hall one of our favourite venues. The event was a Halle for Youth 2010 Concert featuring Dancing around the World. Somebody had chosen a selection of dance tunes from different countries to reflect their differing musical heritages.
The general idea seemed to be for the Halle Orchestra to have a good time playing lots of very lively music whilst showing the assembled primary school children that classical music, and not so classical music, could be fun!
We had music by Stravinsky, Mahler, Kachaturian and even Quincy Jones in this cornucopia of dance which also included some audience participation on a song called Refuge.
The Mayoress and I along with Mayors from several other boroughs in Greater Manchester really enjoyed the concert and so too did the children who listened very attentively and showed their appreciation of the brilliant playing by the orchestra.
In the afternoon the Mayoress and I visited the Nicky Alliance Day Centre which although it is in Manchester provides a service to lots of Salford residents. It is a very lively centre aimed at giving older people lots to do and to think about to combat isolation and loneliness.
I even got roped into some keep fit exercises which featured in the Advertiser the following week. I always enjoy joining in and people always think it is funny to see the Mayor in such situations as it is not quite the done thing. The Mayoress and I really enjoyed our visit and wish the Centre every success in the important work they are doing.
Tuesday 2 February
The only engagement today was a fundraiser for my charities - St Ann's Hospice and the Salford Young Carers Project. Fellow Councillor John Warmisham was the quizmaster ably assisted by a bevy of female assistants who collected up the question sheets and sold the raffle tickets. The quiz was held in the Salford Suite at the Civic Centre and it was absolutely packed - there was even a waiting list of teams wanting to take part!
I had the very important job of drawing the raffle but I wasn't able to be part of a team which was just as well because I didn't know any of the answers!?! At the end of a very successful night we had raised over £20,000 for my charities. Thanks John for your hard work and to everyone who turned up on the night.
This page was last updated on 24 March 2010