Mr Mayor's diary: January 2010
Sunday 31 January
A big civic occasion today as some of the Mayors from Greater Manchester, Lancashire and East Cheshire gathered at Manchester Cathedral for a service to celebrate the anniversary of the formation of the Air Training Corps (ATC). The Cathedral was full of dignitaries and cadets and the singing was accompanied by the Greater Manchester Police Band who were in fine form.
After the service the dignitaries hot footed it to Manchester Town Hall whilst the cadets had to march through the streets of Manchester so we could, with the Lord Lieutenant, receive their salute. It was very cold in Albert Square but the cadets marched very impressively and nearly filled the square. I think everyone was very pleased that the tea was nice and hot when we got inside the Town Hall.
Saturday 30 January
The only engagement today was another fund raising event - this time at Salford University. I had attended a number of planning meetings with a very enthusiastic group of staff and students but nothing could have prepared me for the event itself.
The event was being held in the refectory in the Allerton Building and each table of eight was laden with food showcasing local, regional and international dishes representing the diverse communities of Salford and the University. All the food had been prepared during the day under the expert eye of Patrick Trodden, Senior Lecturer Salford Business School, and included the legendary tabouleh prepared by Professor Ghassan Aouad.
While everyone was busy eating the entertainment was kicked off by none other than Jon Christos and Jenny Williams who sang three songs mainly in Italian. Their harmonies were exquisite - what a start to the evening! Following on were the amazing young and not so young dancers from Stagecraft with a completely different routine compared to the previous night.
Then to get us in the mood for the auction Usman Ali presented a ‘guess the celebrity' game which featured well known University staff and indeed myself - I was given Arnold Schwarzenegger's body which was a bit off putting. The auction followed and a number of very generous people bid large sums of money for a huge number of items including a ball signed by Ryan Giggs, a book donated by Harold Riley, a helicopter experience and the opportunity to have a meal for six cooked in your own home by Professor Aouad.
At the end some of the Student's Union officers offered a day of their time for auction which brought in some very good bids. Having over run by 40 minutes or so we were then treated to some more excellent performances by the stars from Stagecraft before we were able to announce that on the night over £7.5k had been raised for the Mayor's Charities. An outstanding achievement for which I am so grateful to everyone who helped but especially Ghassan Aouad and his PA Gill Southwell.
Friday 29 January
In the evening we attended the first of two events in aid of my charities at Irlam Catholic Club. My good friend Christine Hudson and Cadishead Band had arranged a Cabaret evening to raise funds. The band kicked things off in good style and then we moved on to a marvellous programme of singing and dancing by children from the local Stagecraft Dance and Theatre School.
They were absolutely brilliant and under the watchful eye of Carole Bennett performed a whole range of dances before rounding of with a splendid rendition of a song from the musical Hairspray ‘I Know Where I've Been'. The evening was rounded off by two female singers Helen Lowdnes, who lives in Irlam, and a singer from Newton-Le-Willows.
A brilliant night and we raised over £400 as well as providing a really good night out for everyone who attended.
Thursday 28 January
A busy day began with a visit to the Parlour by a delegation of Chinese government officials from Fujian Province. The group were on a visit to Manchester Business School but as on previous occasions they like to visit surrounding local authorities to hear how they deal with their finances and to pick up on the civic history.
They brought a very beautiful gift for me and I was able to give them some civic gifts in return. Everyone seemed to have brought their camera with them and there were lots of opportunities for photographs with the mace as well as with the Mayoress and myself.
It is always an honour to entertain overseas guests and to learn a bit about their country and they are always fascinated by the role of the Mayor and all the history that goes with it.
Shortly after saying goodbye to our Chinese guests the Mayoress and I set off on a visit to St Thomas of Canterbury RC Primary School. I had noticed an article in the Salford Advertiser which mentioned that St Thomas's was one of the most improved schools in the country so I had asked if we could be invited on a visit to see how they do things.
We were met by the headmaster David Deane who took us on a conducted tour. Without a doubt St Thomas's must be one of the most multi-cultural schools in the whole of Salford, it is also full of activity and vibrant displays bedeck every corridor.
The Headmaster seemed to know all the children's names and took us to nearly all the classrooms where we greeted very politely by all the pupils who seemed very impressed by the Mayor's chain and we had some good question and answer sessions as the children asked some very relevant questions. We are looking forward to the pupils' visit when we can continue our conversation.
After a busy day the Mayoress had the evening off while I enjoyed the hospitality of my local Rotary Club at their Charter Anniversary dinner. The event was held at the Rhinewood Hotel in Glazebrook and was very enjoyable - good food and a comedian who actually made me laugh a lot although I could only remember one of his jokes afterwards!
Wednesday 27 January
More school children today and more music. This event was really different and very enjoyable. Schools across Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Merseyside have been taking part in a project called ‘Songbook of the Earth' which involves children creating a song cycle inspired by global and environmental themes and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.
The idea of today at the mid point in the project was to bring all the children together to listen to a ‘presented performance' of Beethoven's 6th Symphony ‘The Pastoral'. Manchester Camerata were on hand to play the symphony and various other people gave an insight into the structure of the symphony and what Beethoven was trying to achieve.
The children remained remarkably attentive throughout and the orchestra really played well. One thing is for sure that I am learning to like classical music a lot more as a result of the exposure I have received during my Mayoral year.
Tuesday 26 January
Another school visit this time to Springwood Primary School in Swinton. Springwood is classified as a special school and it was formed some years ago from the amalgamation of a number of schools from across Salford to centralise provision for children who were unable to cope with mainstream schooling.
I was met by the Head Paul Morrison along with Sandra Hayton who is the chair of Governors at the school. Being a relatively new school it was nice and light and airy and a very colourful environment for children to work and learn in.
I was welcomed very warmly in every classroom we went into although one introduction didn't have quite the desired outcome. Mr Morrison asked one class the difference between Mr Mayor and himself. Quick as a flash one of the children volunteered: ‘He's better looking than you'. I think the answer should have referred to the mayoral chain but this was a lot funnier and made me feel very pleased for the rest of the day!
After my trip to Springwood I spent some time at Buile Hill Park Hall talking about the arrangements for the Mayor's Charity ball which is taking place at the end of February. It sounds like it's going to be really good and I hope we will be able to raise lots of money for my charities.
Saturday 23 January
Quite an early start today to visit some of the Salford Young carers Group who were busy packing bags at Morrisons in Eccles. The store was heaving and the young people were struggling to keep up with the rush of people.
I wasn't sure whether the Mayoress's efforts were helping or not as the queues grew. I had a long talk with the Manager and both he and the rest of the staff made us feel very welcome. They really seemed to appreciate having the young people around and the customers very generously donated over £700 to our charities which was absolutely fantastic.
The day was completed by another trip to Old Trafford this time with the Mayoress who was very impressed by the occasion and was particularly taken by watching Wayne Rooney score four goals as the Reds put in one of their better performances of the season against a very poor Hull side.
Friday 22 January
Our first engagement of the day involved a visit from a group of children from St Augustine's Primary School which is in Pendlebury. We had visited St Augustine's twice during our year of office: once to open their garden and then again to open the school's Christmas Fair.
It was a pleasure to entertain the children who behaved brilliantly and asked lots of good questions when it came to the civic history part of the visit. I really think it is important for our school children to know more about Salford as an historical place and certainly from the responses we receive they all seem to enjoy the experience.
Close on the heels of the school children we had the great pleasure to welcome the latest winners of the Mayor's Citizen's Award. Once again the Mayoress and I could not agree on a clear winner and so we decided to award the honour to two very deserving people who head up two very different organisations.
First was Jenny Thomas who for the past three to four years has been organising events in her locality to bridge the gap between the non-Asian and Asian communities by introducing women of all races and bringing them together using her love of South Asian culture; and second was Bernadette Conlon who heads up START, an organisation we had the pleasure of visiting last year.
It was a very interesting afternoon as we found out more about both groups and the awards winners themselves found common interests across the two groups. Both the Mayoress and I feel that these awards have been really worthwhile as we have been able to highlight so many of the people in our City who work tirelessly to make it a better place to live and work.
Later on in the afternoon we made the short trip from the Civic Centre to the Helping Hands Minor Repairs Service. We were there to present the organisation with their Investors In People (IIP) plaque as they had been successful in achieving this prestigious award.
We were greeted by our good friend John Cullen who is Chair of the Board of the service. He showed us round and introduced us to many of the staff before I made the presentation and, for good measure, performed an official opening ceremony as their new premises has not, so far, actually been opened even though they had been occupying the building for some months!
Better late than never and it was a real pleasure to visit this very innovative service although we could not do their buffet justice having just been fed at the Civic Centre!!
Thursday 21 January
Another visit to the theatre at Pendleton College this time to see a very different sort of play Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible'. Set in the time of the Salem Witches Trials with echoes of the McCarthy witch hunts of a quite different nature this was really powerful stuff.
I had my picture taken with the cast before the performance and they were unsure as to whether they should smile and be ‘out of character' - they certainly didn't smile much during the play. The Crucible is a very difficult play to perform just because it is so harrowing and I think the cast gave it a very good shot with some outstanding performances along the way.
After too very heavy plays I hope they are going to be given a chance to do something a little lighter next time!
Wednesday 20 January
The Mayoress had the day off today as I chaired a meeting of the full Council which for the second time running was over by lunch after a number of fairly heated debates had taken place.
Tuesday 19 January
Our quiet start to the New Year continued and after a couple of free days we attended another of our favourite ceremonies where people from all over the world receive their British Citizenship. As always it was a very enjoyable ceremony with lots of photographs afterwards as individuals celebrated this important occasion with family and friends.
Saturday 16 January
Another trip to the Theatre of Dreams and another win although still not a very convincing display from the guys in red but then again if you win does it really matter?
Friday 15 January
I had to face my food demons at Fit City Chocolate Cakes (AKA Fit City Clarendon) at a photoshoot to launch a new approach to encouraging the people of Salford to go to the gym and watch what they eat. Shame about the cake that collapsed but I managed not to look too stupid posing on various pieces of gym equipment!!
Thursday 14 January
I met with members of my Charity Committee today to ensure everything was going as planned. We heard two pieces of good news: firstly, sales of Mayor's Ale have raised over £500 for my charities and secondly, overall we have raised almost £19,000!!! This is absolutely amazing and I am so grateful to everyone who has helped with fundraising so far.
Wednesday 13 January
Only one engagement today but this consisted of a welcome return to the Working Class Movement Library on Chapel Street. The occasion was the launching of a new exhibition based on work local people had done using the library resources as a research archive. The topics varied from chartism to the docks to Salford's mines. All the topics were well presented and I promised that I would go back and have a proper look at the exhibits when I have got more time.
The Mayoress and I were also very impressed by Albert Thompson who entertained us all with a number of songs he had written about old Salford. I am still playing the CD he very kindly gave me. A true Salfordian proud of his roots and rightly so.
Tuesday 12 January
A full day at last as the thaw finally got underway. First of all we went to the Crown Court in Manchester for the reading of the proclamation which marks the beginning of the legal year. All the main judges who sit in the Court were there as well as the High Sheriff and it was all very grand.
The Lord Mayor of Manchester and her Consort and the Mayoress and I sat where the jury would normally sit so we got a feeling for what it would be like to sit in the court if there was a case being heard.
Having travelled back from the centre of Manchester we spent a very pleasant hour catching up with David King from the prayer Network. The Mayoress and I have visited lots of churches and it was very useful talking to David because he was able to give us lots of background information so we could make more sense of how all the different sections of the faith community were working together.
Some months ago I received a letter from one of the Brownies from the 1st Height Brownie Pack. She was asking for a signed photo of the Mayor to go in a scrapbook that the pack were putting together as part of the celebrations of 90 years of Guiding. I had a bright idea which was to invite the pack to the parlour to receive the photograph rather than just putting it in the post.
The result was that 25, yes 25, very excited Brownies braved the cold weather to come to the parlour. I welcomed the pack before presenting them with the signed photo and then they all tucked into the buffet before a very interesting question and answer session.
Very fittingly the brownies were ‘prepared' as they had all their questions written down so that they would not forget what they wanted to ask. Questions over Steve, one of the Mayor's attendants, talked to them about the mace and showed them the Council Chamber and then of course they had even more questions.
To round the evening off I presented them all with a goody bag and said goodbye. The Mayoress and I had had a great evening and the Brownies had been an absolute delight to entertain, very well behaved and so pleased to have been invited that several of them came up and said thank you which was delightful. We both wish 1st Height Brownies every success for the coming year.
Thursday 7 January
Nothing was going to stop today's event - the granting of the freedom of the city of Salford to Ryan Giggs, OBE. A number of famous Salfordians had already been made Freemen including L S Lowry, David Lloyd George and Nelson Mandela so Ryan was going to be in very good company.
Lots of staff in the city council had been working hard to make the event very special for Ryan and his family and it worked. Ryan is a really lovely person, no airs and graces just a Salford lad who's ‘done good'. I had the pleasure of sitting with him and his wife, Stacey, at lunch and we chatted away about all sorts of things and then we moved on to the speeches and finally the presentation.
Cllr John Warmisham moved the motion to award the freedom of the city to Ryan and this was seconded by Cllr Derek Antrobus as well as representatives from the conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Then I said a few words before Barbara Spicer, Chief Executive of Salford City Council, read the legend on the award and then we jointly made the award of the framed document and a badge that goes with it. Ryan's response was typical of the man totally unassuming and from the heart.
Everyone enjoyed the whole ceremony and felt that Ryan was a really fitting candidate for such a great civic honour. In the evening when I got home it was a real surprise to see that at least two of the interviews I had given before the ceremony had managed to escape the cutting room floor and I was able to watch myself on TV for the first time in a speaking role! The continuing bad weather dealt a blow to two further engagements over the weekend which was a great disappointment but hope fully we will be able to reschedule at least some of them.
Monday 4 January
Our first engagement of the New Year was again connected to food. I think there is a theme coming in here. We picked our way carefully from the Civic Centre for the event as it was at a sandwich bar about 100 metres away but with the heavy snow that had fallen we had to take it carefully.
Passion for Food had asked me to open their rebranded takeaway and we welcomed by owners' Greg and Angela O'Neill who offered us some delicious food and a hot cup of tea. Eventually we all had to brave the weather in order to cut the ribbon but it wasn't long before we were safely inside again enjoying more lovely food.
We also took the opportunity to find out about Greg and Angela's unique approach where they make everything they sell themselves and also make sure all their staff are trained and obtain their GNVQ's. A brilliant venture and the Mayoress and I wish them all every success in the future. Once again the weather stepped in to disrupt our activities and we missed out on two engagements which were cancelled for the safety of the people involved.
This page was last updated on 22 February 2010