Mr Mayor's diary: November 2009
Saturday 28 November
Two visits to Manchester Cathedral today. The first was at the conclusion of the ‘We Are One' march. This was a march from Salford's Catholic Cathedral to Manchester's Anglican Cathedral. It was a multi-faith event which was well supported by several hundred walkers and many clergy. It was a joyous event too with lots of singing and shouting during the march. There was a service in each Cathedral the second of which featured an impassioned speech from Bishop Nigel explaining why we had marched and the purpose behind the ‘We Are One' idea. Altogether I found the experience really uplifting and I am sure everyone who took part would have felt the same.
Before my next visit to the Cathedral I nipped back to Cadishead to open the new play area at Cadishead Park. Gale Blackburn had arranged a number of activities to mark the event and a good number of children were making lanterns when I arrived. After posing for photos on the play equipment and helping to plant one of the trees on the site I returned to Manchester for my next engagement.
This was another first for Salford - the first ever Archdeacon for the city. Rev David Sharples who is Salford born and bred was installed in a formal service and then I and a number of other local representatives brought greetings to David on his appointment. Although as readers of this diary will know I have been to the Cathedral many times this was the first time I had actually been asked to speak. There were several hundred people there so it was quite daunting but I think I carried it off OK.
Unfortunately I was not able to stay to the reception after the service as I had to get ready for my next engagement which was an amazing event at Salford University - the world premiere of Wonder. This choral work featured two soloists, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and Salford Choral Society Choir. The participants all but filled the Maxwell Hall at the University and sounded very impressive when in full flood. The playing of the piece was preceded by a lecture on astro-physics to set the scene which made me a little nervous and I must admit that I, along with many others in the audience, found the piece very challenging. The concept of trying to present the creation of the world in words and music was awesome in itself. Certainly some of the passages were thrilling as the choir and the orchestra came to a crescendo accompanied by amazing images of constellations and galaxies on the big screens. I think I would like to hear it again before making any final judgement.
Friday 27 November
My only engagement today was at Buile Hill where I awarded a number of Long Service Awards to members of staff from across the city council. Everyone with 25 years' service is entitled to choose a gift and is awarded a certificate and a lapel badge. Citywide provided a lovely meal and judging by the amount of talking that was going on staff used the opportunity to catch up with their colleagues across the council. In his speech Alan Westwood, who was substituting for Barbara Spicer, the Chief Executive, reminded us of some of the things that happened 25 years ago which was all rather frightening and made me feel rather old!
Thursday 26 November
I arrive back in Salford just in time to attend the Lord Mayor of Manchester's Reception. Over 500 guests were entertained on the first floor of the Town Hall. There was a lovely buffet as well as music from a variety of performers. My favourites were the Manchester Soul Choir who sang very well against the background of people talking and eating their food. It was a very grand affair with a raffle in aid of the Lord Mayor's charities which included a hotel stay for a lucky couple.
Monday 23 November
At the start of an exciting week unfortunately the Mayoresses' husband fell ill and so I had to complete a number of engagements on my own. The first of these was at Swinton Park Golf Club where I was invited to award Healthy Schools prizes to some of Salford's primary and secondary schools. Before each award the school concerned did a presentation on some aspect of how their school was going about promoting healthy eating and activities. Unfortunately I missed some of these presentations because I had a plane to catch!
I had been invited by one of the city's twin towns, Lunen, to make a visit, to meet with the Burgermeister and other town officials. I have been on the council for over 25 years and had never been able to visit one of our twin towns so I was very excited even though the Mayoress was unable to accompany me. The flight was very bumpy particularly as we came in to land but I was amazed just how close Germany is as we landed just over one and a quarter hours after we left Manchester. I went with one of the Mayor's attendants because whenever the mayoral chain goes anywhere there has to be someone there to look after it.
During the next couple of days I had an excellent visit, helped to open Lunen's Christmas Market, met the Burgermeister, toured round the suburbs of Lunen and also walked round the centre of the town. I was very struck by how friendly everyone was, how keen they were to maintain relations with Salford and how important they felt the links between our two areas were both for cultural reasons but also to improve tourism between the two places. I owe a great debt to the officials in Lunen who gave up their time so freely to show me around and I hope our discussions have cemented relations between us and I look forward to a reciprocal visit in the not too distant future.
Sunday 22 November
Another first today as the Mayoress and I went to the Heaton Park Hebrew Congregation to witness the Induction of Rabbi Daniel Walker. I realised after we were introduced that I had met Rabbi Daniel before when he came to a full council meeting to give us a reflection on issues of the day. He made a very thoughtful and thought provoking contribution based on his Jewish faith which a number of people had commented favourably upon. It came as little surprise that he is very highly thought of in his own community and I am absolutely sure he will make a very good Rabbi.
I was advised that the induction of a new Rabbi is a rare occasion as Rabbis are installed for life. This particular synagogue has only had three rabbis since it was built earlier last century. A number of civic dignitaries were present for the service which was very different partly because it was conducted in Hebrew and partly because all the women were placed on the upper area of the synagogue and the men were on the ground floor. The proceedings were rounded off with a buffet of exquisite Jewish food. We wish Rabbi Daniel well for his ministry and hope to meet him again soon.
Saturday 21 November
I managed to maintain my 100% record at United when I witnessed their defeat of Everton. Another brilliant afternoon and many thanks to Old Trafford for their hospitality.
Friday 20 November
Our first engagement was a real pleasure as we welcomed the School Council from Fiddlers Lane Primary School, Irlam to the Parlour. When we visited the school earlier in the year to open their mini-gym we had suggested a visit and the head teacher had followed this up. As always with these visits the children behaved impeccably and looked as if they had really enjoyed their refreshments and the short civic history lesson courtesy of Frank Reid one of the Mayor's attendants. We really enjoyed the visit and look forward to hosting more school parties in the future.
In the evening we went to another dinner this time at the Radisson Airport Hotel and in the company of the Manchester Consular Association (MCA). The occasion was the Annual Banquet and Ball of the MCA and we had been invited along with the High Sheriff, the Lord Mayor of Manchester and the Lord Lieutenant and a number of other dignitaries.
It was interesting to learn on the one hand just how many overseas countries maintain a consul in Manchester and on the other some rather strange omissions. Given the importance of a consulate when difficulties arise for foreign nationals in this country it is clear that the consuls do a very important job. This fact was highlighted by the Lord Lieutenant in his speech. It was very enjoyable evening and I look forward to hosting a further event for consular officials in Salford next year.
Thursday 19 November
Another first today - in the absence of the Rt Hon Andy Burnham the Secretary of State for Health - I was asked to open Pendleton Gateway the brilliant multipurpose Health Centre near Salford Precinct, which also incorporates a library and all sorts of other help and advice services as well as cutting edge health service facilities particularly for children.
At the last minute the plaque for the opening ceremony was altered so it now bears my name. I was so excited I pulled the wrong chord to unveil the plaque so the curtain would not open until I received some helpful advice from one of the other VIP's so I finally got it right!
In the evening the Mayoress and I attended a dinner given by the Traffic Commissioners as part of their Annual Conference which was being held at the Marriott Hotel for the second year running. We had a very pleasant evening and learnt a lot about the work of the Commissioners.
Wednesday 18 November
Today's only duty was to chair a meeting of full council. There were a number of sensitive issues for debate and so the meeting went on rather longer than the previous one but it was still wrapped up by just after 3.00pm after everyone had been given a fair hearing on their particular issues.
Tuesday 17 November
Another Citizenship Ceremony today, this time in the company of the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester, Christian Wewers, a very good friend of the Mayoress and I. As usual there were around 50 people getting their citizenship all of whom were keen to have their photographs taken with ourselves and the High Sheriff. It is always a real pleasure to take part in these ceremonies and take the opportunity to meet some of Salford's most recent newcomers from all over the world.
In the evening the Mayoress and I along with most of the other Greater Manchester Mayors and Mayoresses paid a visit to Bolton Lads' and Girls' Club. This is the most amazing place! It cost £5 million to build and is the biggest and best youth club you could ever find. It is packed with opportunities to take part in sports, learn skills, get counselling, get information and practically anything a young person could want to help get their lives organised in the 21st century. An amazing experience - I think all the civic heads were blown away by the whole thing and wanted a similar venture for their own areas!
Monday 16 November
Only one engagement today and it was return visit to Salford City Academy to present prizes and GCSE certificates to last year's Year 11 students. It was a real pleasure to be in the school again and also to meet so many talented students. We wish them all well in their future careers.
Sunday 15 November
Only one engagement today and it was a real first. The Mayoress and I have learnt a lot about the Jewish religion and way of life since we started but this was the first time we had heard of Mitzvah Day. The concept was described to me as being like ‘Bob-A-Job' from years ago. In those days cubs and scouts used to go round doing some jobs for older people for a small reward. Mitzvah Day has a similar purpose where people things for others to help them out. The event at Heathlands was to celebrate this day and we were treated to some lovely food and a play based on the story of the Good Samaritan by a group of schoolchildren. We both enjoyed the event and increased our learning as a result.
Saturday 14 November
A busy day started with a visit to Monton Unitarian Church to open their Christmas Fayre. The Fayre was being held in a small hall next to the church which was packed with tombola stalls, raffles, homemade cakes and the like. It was busy the whole time we were there so I hope they lots of money for their funds. The Mayoress and I did quite well in terms of prizes which we will donate to our next tombola event.
The next engagement was squeezed in at the last moment to help a fellow councillor. He asked me to award the prizes at the Swinton Anglers AGM which included a trophy in memory of the late Cllr Maureen Lea. I am not a fisherman although I have disturbed a few as I have trundled along the waterways but I was very pleased to present the awards and to hear about some of the work the club, under the direction of Bob Docherty, do with young people in the area giving them an alternative to doing nothing with their mates. We were very impressed with the work that was going on there and with the club every success in the future.
Our next engagement was another art exhibition. This time it was housed in Manchester Cathedral so we made another visit to one of our favourite locations. We were greeted by Canon Gilly Myers who we have met many times before. The event consisted of a thanksgiving service followed by some nibbles and an opportunity to have a look at the exhibits. The Cathedral choir were in fine voice for Evensong as was Gilly herself. It was a fitting way to pay tribute to the artists and their work over the years. I have to say I was a little disappointed with the exhibition itself as the lighting in the Cathedral is not really good enough to appreciate some of the work particularly the sculptures. That said there were some excellent works on show again a tribute to budding artists in the area.
In the evening we had our second theatrical experience of the week at Pendleton College and very fittingly for the time of year it featured a play called Journey's End about the experiences of a group of young soldiers in the trenches in the First World War. A very powerful drama showing just how futile much of the trench warfare was and aptly illustrating the phrase, ‘Lions led by donkeys'. All the men we saw were killed in the action depicted and the play ended with the same bugler from Agecroft Cemetery playing the last post. Congratulations to all the cast and everyone else involved with this very powerful production.
Friday 13 November
Our first engagement was at the Pendleton Gateway for an awareness event to mark World Diabetes day. As I am diabetic myself I really wanted to offer support to all the staff who were on duty trying to make people more aware of this hidden illness which can have serious consequences if it is not diagnosed soon enough.
Our second engagement was a Neighbourhood Natter at the home of Ron Hallen. Ron is obviously well known in his locality and during the course of our visit 10 - 15 neighbours popped in to have a cup of tea and to contribute generously to his collecting bowl. It was good to have a natter and there were a number of characters there so time flew by. Ron is collecting at the moment towards the cost of refurbishing Moorside War Memorial and we send very best wishes to him. We hope he soon reaches his target.
After a short break we were off back to Pendleton Gateway to open and chair the AGM of the Salford Forum of Older People. There was good attendance and we saw a number of people we had previously seen at events concerning older people in Salford and I also met some colleagues from when I used to work for Manchester City Council. They were very well behaved so I did not have any problems keeping the meeting under control and we had a very interesting talk about the role of Older People's Champions from Cllr Sue Cooley who is the Champion for Manchester. We both enjoyed the meeting and wish the Forum well for their busy programme during the next year.
To round off a busy day we went to the City of Salford Museum & Art Gallery at Peel Park for Salford Art Club's Annual Exhibition. Unfortunately Prof Martin Hall, Vice Chancellor of Salford University, was unable to make it to the opening but he sent a very adequate replacement. The standard of the exhibits was extremely high and it was really good to have an opportunity to be able to talk to some of the artists about their work. Another occasion to be able to feel proud of what the people of Salford have achieved and another opportunity to hear about artists who have only recently started to paint or draw and who have found it a really life changing experience to know they have a talent they can share with other people.
Thursday 12 November
Our first engagement today was to a delightful coffee morning at the Jackson's Row Synagogue. Organised by the League of Jewish Women, North West Region along with several other Mayors the invitees were Christians and Jews from across Greater Manchester. There was a very lively buzz of talking when we first got there and a very friendly atmosphere throughout. All the mayors were asked to bring greetings from their cities or boroughs and then we had a very interesting talk from a Pentecostal Bishop who told us of the existence of black Jews in Africa. With these two events having come together we both felt a lot better informed about the Jewish religion and way of life than previously.
Our next engagement was a welcome return to St Ann's Hospice which is one of the organisations I am collecting money for through my charity appeal. The occasion was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Hospice. The Bishop of Manchester was on hand to take part in the celebrations and I was able to update everyone on how well we were doing in raising funds. They were delighted and it was good to meet up with Terry McDonnell again.
In the evening we went to a production of Dracula Spectacula at the Lowry. It was organised by MAPAS our wonderful city council run music service. Some very good singing and dancing performances by would be stars of the future. It wasn't too scary but had a very good twist at the end and must have been a very memorable experience for those who took part and their proud parents!
Wednesday 11 November
The Mayoress and I went to Agecroft Cemetery for our first engagement where a short service was held and the Last Post played at three places in the Cemetery. The first was by a series of War Graves, then at the monument to all those who lost their lives in the blitz on Salford and lastly at the grave of the crew of the Lancaster bomber that crashed in Salford on the way back from a bombing raid. A very poignant series of events which brought home very forcibly the horrors of war and our duty to remember those who died and to do all in our power to avoid future wars.
In the evening along with all the other Greater Manchester Mayors and Mayoresses we went to the Manchester Jewish Museum. We received a short lecture on what the Museum was all about and some of the crucial elements of the Jewish religion including the differences between Reform and Orthodox Jews. It was a fascinating evening which was rounded off with some refreshments featuring some Jewish delicacies.
Tuesday 10 November
Our first engagement today proved to be one of the most difficult of the year. The Mayoress and I had been asked to judge the artwork that had been entered into the ‘It's Cool To Save Energy' school art competition 2009. There were dozens of entries from both primary and secondary schools in the city and it really was hard to decide which were the best entries as a range of styles and mediums had been used. Eventually we came up with the first, second and third in each category and we are very much looking forward to awarding the prizes at an event before Christmas.
To complete the day in the afternoon we entertained Commodore S R Baum in the Parlour. Commodore Baum has just taken over as the Naval Regional Commander Northern England. The Mayoress and I very much enjoyed our conversation as we learnt more about the ways in which the Navy works.
Monday 9 November
Back to the Marriott Hotel first thing to the opening of the First National Enterprise in Special Education Conference. Over 100 delegates had assembled from all over the country to the first event of its kind where practitioners could exchange ideas about the latest thinking in Special Education. We stayed for the first couple of presentations and then took our leave from what looked like a very successful conference. Hopefully it will now become an annual event - another first for Salford!
Sunday 8 November
The Mayoress and I were very proud to attend the parade and service in Irlam - the area which I represent. There was a very good turnout swelled by the fact that Fsr Annis, a local man, had died so tragically earlier in the year. Cadishead Band lead the parade and a crowd of several hundred attended the service a public demonstration of just how important it is to local people to show their respect for those who have given their lives for the country in the two world wars and other wars since.
After the service the Mayoress and I went on to Haldane Barracks, Eccles New Road for a delicious curry and a chance to look round the barracks and to talk to some of the Territorials and their families. After the cold morning it was a welcome chance to get warm but also to more information about what the TA does in supporting the modern army.
In the evening we went to an event hosted by Oakwood High School as a prelude to a conference they had organised the following day. The event was at the Marriott Hotel in Worsley and we enjoyed a lovely meal before being entertained by some of the students from Oakwood who had written and acted in a multimedia presentation involving live acting and a video recording which they had made previously. A very enjoyable evening and an opportunity to find out some of the extraordinary work that goes on in our High Schools.
Saturday 7 November
Another first today as the Mayoress and I arrived at Tescos in Irlam to give our support to a bag packing event. Eight young carers from the Salford Young Carers Project accompanied by two of the staff plus pupils from Irlam High worked tirelessly from 10.00am until 3.30pm packing bags and hoping for a donation as a reward for their efforts. It certainly worked - staff from Tescos were delighted with the way the young people behaved, customers were very pleased to hear about the charities and in total we raised the amazing sum of £521.00. Tescos even want us all to go back in the New Year.
In total with some incredible help from some excellent people across the city we have raised over £17,000.00 for the Mayor's Charities which is absolutely magnificent.
After spending some time watching the bag packers our next engagement was at the Midland Hotel in Manchester. The Mayoress and I were the guests of John Wilkinson of Salford Reds fame at his Chairman's Dinner. It was a very glitzy affair with a Hollywood theme and we were invited to join John and his wife on the red carpet as we paraded together into the room where all the other guests were waiting.
I have got quite used to wearing a dinner jacket and bow tie now as I have probably attended at least ten black tie do's since becoming Mayor. We had a first class meal and were entertained by some excellent musicians. The raffle consisted of loads of fabulous prizes but on this occasion the Mayoress and I were unlucky. As we had an early start the next day as the serious dancing started the Mayoress and I thanked John for his very generous hospitality and headed for home.
Friday 6 November
An early start today as we met with Col B Gorski MBE and Lt Col Glover who had come to pay a courtesy visit and also to talk about the homecoming parade for the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers on 1 December. This is a really important event both for the soldiers and for the city so I hope as many people as can will turn out to watch the parade.
In the evening the Mayoress and I attended a bonfire and fireworks display at Princes Park in Irlam. It was bitterly cold but the rain held off just long enough for the huge crowd to enjoy the fireworks. The display was brilliant and thanks to the generosity of all those in the crowd my very good friends from Irlam Rotary collected £316.00 for my charities.
Thursday 5 November
Only one engagement today and that was to START in Salford which is a community arts and wellbeing charity, based in a fully equipped arts studio and workshop complex at the heart of Salford. We were met by Bernadette Conlon who seems to be the inspiration for the whole place. We were given a full tour round all the various workshops which were really well equipped and full of people who were obviously enjoying their activities. The highlight was saved for last when we got out of the lift in the roof area which is where the START gallery is. Here we met octogenarian Sydney Cauldwell and we were able to browse some of his fantastic paintings. Sydney, better known as Cid, is a prolific painter but has only been painting in his later years. He told me that he has 11 paintings on the go at the moment! A very unassuming Salford man who I think has a real talent which truly deserves a wider audience.
Wednesday 4 November
Just after I took office it was suggested to me that it might be a good idea to ask a local brewery to brew a special beer for me so it could be sold in aid of my charities. Bazens Brewery were approached and were very enthusiastic about the project. They arranged for a brilliant label design and chose one of their beers which would be bottled under the title of Mayor's Ale. As a committed real ale drinker, member of CAMRA and volunteer at a number of beer festivals imagine my delight to see this project come to fruition!
Our very important mission today was to attend a photo shoot at the brewery to meet Richard Bazen, Chief Brewer etc, so we could publicise what I think may be a unique project. Photographers from the Advertiser and Salford Online were on hand and Richard cracked open a couple of bottles to aid the shoot - even I draw the line at quaffing ale at 10.00am!! The photos turned out really well. By late afternoon the story had been posted on Salford Online's website and was attracting all sorts of ribald comments. We also made page seven in the Advertiser which was brilliant. The reaction to the beer has been fantastic I just hope we can translate that into sales.
It is available at both Buile Hill and Worsley Court House if you are attending events there. If anyone else wants a supply please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will sort something out. Over 100 bottles have been sold already and I am hoping to reach 1,000 bottles by next May.
After leaving the Brewery we went straight back to the Civic Centre to welcome Paul Heald from Morgan Ashurst. Morgan Ashurst have recently completed the building of Harrop Fold and managed to do so without a single injury on the site. As a result they had over £500 in risk pot which they very generously agreed to donate to my charities. He had brought a very amusing photographer along with him and we had a good chat over a cup of tea before I gave them both a bottle of my beer which they very much appreciated.
Tuesday 3 November
A busy day today saw the Mayoress and I starting off at the launch of Salford Community Transport's new venture: the New To You Furniture Store. We were met by Joanne Sugden who told us the background to the new venture. A rather depressing warehouse had, by the injection of considerable funds, been transformed into a rather smart, warm environment for the display of second hand furniture which can be bought by people with limited means for a fraction of the cost if they were buying them new. There are many people who are in need of this service and now they will be able to browse the extensive stock in comfort and the staff won't have to spend their days swathed in hoodies to try and keep warm. It gave me great pleasure to do the official opening and we both wish them every success for the future.
Our next engagement was a photo shoot at the newly refurbished Eccles War Memorial in advance of the Remembrance Sunday services. We met Jim Wheelton and other members of the Royal British Legion who had masterminded the refurbishment as well as representatives from Urban Vision and the contractors who had done the work. The War Memorial looked very much better for its refurbishment.
As much as it is important to remember the servicemen and women who have given their lives for our country we also need to make sure that the memorials that carry their names do so in a fitting manner. The money spent on this work has restored a memorial which was looking rather tired and made it a matter for comment and appreciation all year round.
In the afternoon the Mayoress and I welcomed Joshua Fairhurst and members of his family into the Parlour for him to receive the Mayor's Citizen's Award (Children's Category) for October. Joshua is a very proud scout and is the first person from his troop to win a Scout's Gold Award. All his family are obviously very proud of his achievements and being able to give him a Mayor's Citizen's Award seemed very fitting. It was a real pleasure to meet the Fairhust family and we wish both Joshua and his family all the very best for the future.
This page was last updated on 17 October 2011