Mr Mayor's diary: October 2009
Saturday 31 October
All week the Mayoress and I had been hoping that the weather would stay dry as today was Halloween Day at Fit City Pendlebury. Salford Community Leisure had agreed to organise a fun day for local children all in aid of my charities. They had a splash session in the pool, splat the teacher in a custom built set of stocks, beat the goalie as well as demonstrations from the city's gymnastics squads and the Red Hot Flames from Salford Reds. The centre was buzzing from the start as everyone was enjoying the huge range of activities. The Mayoress and I had the very difficult task of selecting a winner for the fancy dress competition, there must have been over 40 entrants, and also the painting competition. This was a really hugely successful day and my thanks go to Marie Maguire, who put so much effort into this, and the rest of her team. Everyone enjoyed themselves and they raised an amazing total of £780.00 for my charities!!
Friday 30 October
Two events at the Civic Centre today. The first was an opportunity to meet with some visitors from St Ouen one of the city's twin towns. The three visitors were not very good English speakers but they had some excellent translators with them which meant we could have a good chat over lunch and then Frank Reid, one of the Mayor's attendants, was able to give them a short Civic history before they had to go off to their next engagement.
After a short break the Mayoress and I hosted a tea party for the finalists in a number of competitions which were run at the recent Food & Drink Fayre which had to be curtailed because of the appalling weather. The organisers had decided to make an event of the awards to make up for the disappointment on the day. The Salford Suite Suite was full of would be winners and the Mayoress and I were able to chat to each table while they were eating before making the awards. It was a very enjoyable couple of hours and many congratulations to all the winners and runners up. No one went away empty handed!
Thursday 29 October
ur first engagement today was in the Parlour where we met with Chris Wood who was the first winner of the Mayor's Citizen's Award (Adult Category). Chris is very heavily involved with encouraging youngsters to play rugby and is based with Folly Lane Rugby League Club. The Mayoress and I were very impressed with the amount of work he put in for the young people of the City which is why we chose him as a winner. We had a lovely lunch with both Chris and his wife and colleagues from the club all of whom spoke very highly of Chris and his enthusiasm. Well done Chris and we look forward to lots more nominations in the future for all three categories of this award.
In the evening the Mayoress and I attended a performance of Musicality by St Luke's Arts and Drama Society. We had been to a production by SLADS before and were really looking forward to the production. We were not disappointed. A very high standard of singing, dancing and presentation from everyone involved as they romped through songs from the shows. The amount of effort that goes into shows like these is incredible and I am sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
Wednesday 28 October
An engagement in Irlam to start the day. It was a celebration of the 100th birthday of the George Thomas Playground which is next to Prices Park in Irlam. In the last few years a considerable amount of money has been spent on the park upgrading the play equipment but this event was aimed at celebrating the legacy which George Thomas left to the district. The weather kept fine and there were a number of activities for all the children who had attended including pressing apples to produce a very quaffable apple juice. I was given the job of planting an oak tree to mark the event. I just hope it is still there for the 200th Anniversary. Well done to Sue Ness and the other members of the Neighbourhood Team who organised the event.
In the evening the Mayoress attended the second fundraising event in our own district for the Mayor's Charity Appeal. I had asked the local Rotary Club if they would organise a Quiz Night for my charities. There is a tradition of very successful quiz nights in the district so I hoped to plug into this. We managed to get some generous sponsorship from City West Housing Trust and by use of the area's Digital Information Board and a lot of arm twisting Irlam Catholic Club was absolutely jammed. I managed to get the job of quizmaster for the night, which I really enjoyed, and we had a very noisy and enjoyable night which raised the incredible amount of £1,088.00!!! At the last meeting of my Charity Committee we were told that the amount raised so far was £12,686 so the quiz has given a big boost to the fund. Many thanks to the army of people who were involved in the very smooth running of the quiz. I really enjoyed myself and I hope everyone else did as well.
Tuesday 27 October
Our first visit today was to Buile Hill Park Hall to attend a Supporting People Celebration Event. The room was full of information stands covering all aspects of the work which is supported by the Supporting People funding. This is principally concerned with housing issues but covers a whole range of issues including mental health, disability or drug misuse. We also heard a number of case studies from people who had come in touch with services covered by this grant at a time when they were in a real mess and had managed with the sensitive support which is available to turn their lives around. It was really heart-warming to hear of the benefits which people had gained from the work of the dedicated staff involved in these projects.
Our second engagement was a Tobacco Legislation Awareness Event. We were delighted to lend our support to Trading Standards staff who had put this event on. It is a very difficult area because while there are lots of health issues to do with tobacco it is legal for adults of the right age to buy them. The aim of the seminar was to make sure retailers were aware of new legislation and to press home the message that if they sell to people who are underage then they will be prosecuted. The presentations were well received and the retailers were able to raise some area of concern which staff promised to take on board.
Monday 26 October
Our only engagement today was a trip to the Lowry Theatre to attend an event celebrating the 1st Anniversary of the setting up of City West Housing Trust. The Compass Room had been taken over for the event which consisted of information stalls covering every aspect of work which this trailblazing trust has been undertaking. The Mayoress and I spent time going round to every stall accompanied by Justin Freeman. I met a few familiar faces as I went round and also learnt a lot about the new and improved services which City West are delivering. I also learnt one astonishing fact: City West are spending £1 million a week on bringing homes in Salford up to the Salford standard. This is an amazing amount of money and will mean that for 1000's of people living in the west of the City their homes are going to be modernised and completely changing their lives.
Friday 23 October
A very special day out in Southport today. We had been invited to the North West in Bloom 2009 Awards Presentation Lunch in the grandeur of the recently refurbished Southport Theatre and Convention Centre. We were there to support one of the entrants the team from Seedley & Langworthy so ably led by Jenny Sowerberry. We had been in attendance when the judges visited the area earlier in the year so it was very exciting to be there at the presentation event to see how well Salford had done. After an excellent lunch and a very long wait came the announcement that the team had won first prize in the Urban Regeneration section beating, would you believe it, Manchester City Centre! As you can imagine everyone was absolutely delighted with the result and I am very much looking forward to entertaining the team in the Parlour shortly to reward their amazing work in winning this highly prestigious award. Roll on the National Finals!!!
After a speedy departure the Mayoress and I did a quick change and reported for duty at Broughton House for the Annual Dinner of the 236 (Greater Manchester) Transport Squadron Royal Logistic Corps. It was good to meet up with their President Major John Abbot (ret) who is also a Deputy Lord Lieutenant along with some of the residents of Broughton House and other members of the Corps. We had a lovely dinner provided by the staff at the home and as often happens on such occasions I was asked to say a few words. I spent a few minutes telling the guests about some of the engagements the Mayoress and I had attended recently. One of these referred to KidsCan which I have already commented on at length. Much to my surprise before we left I was handed a cheque from the Corps which they asked me to pass on to the charity. I was really pleased that they had been so generous and that just a little insight into a very worthwhile charity can move people sufficiently that they are prepared to make a donation.
Thursday 22 October
A great visit this afternoon from a number of children from Moorfield Primary School in Irlam. I know I am not supposed to be biased as I am Salford's Mayor but I can't help feeling very proud when I do things connected with the place I have lived for over 30 years. Even more so when it involves the school where I have been a governor for almost all that time. Miss Eaton, the Headteacher, ably assisted by Miss Aston accompanied the children who behaved brilliantly, asked some excellent questions and dazzled the Mayor's attendant, Frank Reid, with their knowledge of English history. It was a delight to have them all in the Parlour - they were a credit to themselves, their parents and to their school.
In the evening the Mayoress and I were guests, along with the Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Mayor of Manchester, at University Barracks in Manchester for a Trafalgar Night Dinner. Whilst the event was held in the Universities' army barracks this was an event which was organised by the Officers and Midshipmen of the Manchester & Salford Universities Royal Naval Unit.
It was our first contact with the Navy and it was interesting to see some of their customs, most particularly that they drink the loyal toast sitting down. This felt very strange but I was told it was to avoid seamen banging their heads on the bulkheads as they stood up!! The food was delicious. It was served by students from the army training corps. The company was also very good. The Mayoress and I had been allocated Tabitha, from North Yorkshire, and Gavin, from Wales, to entertain us and make sure we didn't breach etiquette! They did a great job and we had a very enjoyable evening which included a very interesting history lesson from a retired Admiral on Nelson's strategic genius when involved in naval battles. We just keep learning new things every day.
Wednesday 21 October
Two very different events today - the first was a return visit to St John's Court Sheltered Housing Scheme and the second was our first meeting with some of the young carers who we are raising cash for through our many charity events.
St John's Court is almost becoming our second home now especially with our involvement with Rudi's Rebels and inter-generational project. On this occasion we were marking both the re-decoration of the complex and also Trafalgar Day. A unique blend which gave Rudi an opportunity to sing and for everyone to have a thoroughly good time. Well done to Peter Hacking, the Manager, and everyone else involved for a very good event.
In the early evening the Mayoress and I visited the Princess Royal Trust to meet with some of the young carers who we are raising funds for. It was a very interesting session as we learnt more about the sorts of situations young carers find themselves in and it also confirmed for me that I was right to choose them as one of my charities. They all had very different stories to tell but it was also very clear that the support they get from the staff at the Centre is invaluable to them. That we will be able to provide funds to help them even more makes me feel very proud, as I never thought I might be in a position to really help young carers to improve the quality of their lives. I am really looking forward to working with the group in future and wish them all well in everything they do.
Tuesday 20 October
An early start today to attend the launch of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Since starting as Deputy Mayor I have had quite a lot of contact with the RBL and have learnt two very important things: firstly the Legion itself as an organisation is not very healthy; and secondly with the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan their services are being stretched to the limit. Like many such organisations they need to raise huge sums of money to keep going and to do their very important work.
I was very proud to join the Lord Mayor of Manchester at the Big Wheel for the launch. Every pod has a large poppy over it so that everyone who uses the wheel or goes to the City Centre can't help but see the poppies being borne proudly on high. I really do hope they exceed their target this year and urge everyone to get their poppy and to give as generously as they can.
After this event we returned to the Civic Centre in Swinton and I was interviewed for an item in Life in Salford before I recorded my latest webcast. I really enjoy doing them because it gives me an opportunity to reflect on some of the engagements I have attended with the Mayoress and to try and put over in the film just how much we are enjoying what we are doing.
No sooner was the recording over than we were preparing for another Citizenship ceremony. This time so many friends and family had gathered to watch what was happening that we had to open the balcony which overlooks the Council chamber. It was another very enjoyable occasion and we were able to meet up with Major John Abbot who attended in his role as Deputy Lord Lieutenant. John had been with us once before and his presence helped to make the occasion extra special for everyone who attended. We were all delighted to pose for photographs with many of the new citizens and there was a really nice almost carnival like atmosphere to the proceedings.
Sunday 18 October
An invitation to a local event today which mirrored a similar occasion elsewhere in Salford a few months ago. It was a service in ‘Celebration and Thanksgiving for the Emergency Services'. So often we take for granted the brave men and women who provide our emergency services and I think it is a very good idea to put on such events to show that we do care about the people who often put their lives and well being on the line to help others in the community. I had been asked to read a lesson but as I am not religious I had not felt comfortable with that and I was very kindly asked to light a candle to commemorate the work the emergency services do which I thought was entirely appropriate and something I was very happy to do.
Friday 16 October
At lunchtime the Mayoress and I visited Fairbridge which is a group that works with young people aged from 13 - 25 who are not in education, employment or training and are at risk of dropping out. A young man who had only been out of prison for a few months gave us a tour of the facility. He had turned to Fairbridge as an alternative to hanging out with the crowd who had got him into trouble in the first place and they had in his own words ‘turned my life around'. Fairbridge is a national organisation that aims to equip youngsters with the tools necessary for re-engagement in the workplace or classroom and the self-belief to take advantage of the opportunities. The young people in the centre had cooked a fabulous curry lunch for all the visitors who were attending the open day. It was really good and it was another life affirming experience to meet people who are so keen to work with disaffected youngsters and to see the amazing differences their work can make.
In the evening the Mayoress and I returned to Pendlebury Evangelical Church to take part in one of their Outreach Dinners. We had attended a previous dinner when I was the Deputy Mayor and I was looking forward to another enjoyable evening. I was not disappointed - the food and conversation were excellent and so was after dinner speaker who told us all about how, with the help of God, he had turned his life around. At our table was the Head of Albion High School as well as a social worker from the looked after children team who deals with the area. A real mixture of backgrounds and interests and a good opportunity to socialise and learn from other people's experiences. Thanks very much for the invite George (Harrison who is the Church Leader and who is due to present his Reflections before a full Council meeting early next year.
Thursday 15 October
A second visit for the Mayoress and I to the Indian Senior Citizens Centre in Whalley Range today. Earlier in the year we had joined Dr Das and other Mayors to celebrate Indian Republic day. This time the invitation was to a Diwali celebration. Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights which is a very colourful celebration accompanied by some excellent food and entertainment. Dr Das and his associated do a really fantastic job for Indian Senior Citizens from both Manchester and Salford and judging by what was said it sounds as if some progress is being made with securing some funding to extend the Centre in the near future. This will undoubtedly be of great benefit to Indian Senior Citizens as well as a weight off the mind of Dr Das who has campaigned long and hard for this extension to be built. The food and dancing were brilliant as always and I came away feeling uplifted by the enthusiasm of all the people there.
Wednesday 14 October
Today was due to have been a really exciting day for the Mayoress and I. Following on from a visit to the Mayor's Parlour by Squadron Leader Jason Davenhill he had invited us to RAF Woodvale to have a look round the base for the Manchester & Salford Universities Air Squadron and also to go up in a two seater plane. Everything was set for the flight when they realised that the cloud level was too low for us to be able to se anything if we did take off. There was no breeze at all just this heavy layer of cloud. In the end we had to abandon our trip but we are hoping it might be re-arranged at a future date.
Tuesday 13 October
All I can say is WOW! Our only engagement today was to visit Harrop Fold High School at the invitation of the Executive Head teacher Dr Anthony Edkins. We had a tour round this virtually brand new school visiting practically every classroom, including one where the students were extracting the DNA from a banana! We met members of staff, the school council and saw every detail of this fantastic school. Dr Edkins was hired a couple of years ago because Harrop Fold was a failing school. Now one of the students told us she doesn't want to go to college because she doesn't want to leave the school. Dr Edkins, his staff and governors led by the extraordinary Cllr Bernard Pennington are to be congratulated on the excellent job they have done.
Monday 12 October
The Mayoress and I attended a very prestigious event in the afternoon and evening at a combination of Salford University and Salford's Museum & Art Gallery. The occasion was unique in that Salford University were inaugurating both a new Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor in one ceremony. It was a full-blown Civic/University event so I was able to wear my full robes and the maces of both the City and the University were present.
Dr Irene Khan was inaugurated as the new Chancellor of the University and in accepting the post gave a very powerful speech reflecting her previous involvement in Amnesty International and looking at issues of equality for women in relation to differing cultural situations throughout the world. She spoke with a lot of passion and gave her audience a lot to talk about afterwards.
After the formal splendour of Peel Hall it was a real pleasure to host a reception for all the guests in the Victorian Gallery of the Art Gallery. The wonderful paintings provided a very fitting setting for our guests and I also proposed a toast to both of the new appointees which was responded to by the new Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Hall. We have met Martin a couple of times before and have got on very well with him so my toast and his response were light hearted reflecting the celebratory mood of the gathering.
After drinks we moved on to Maxwell Hall on the University Campus and enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared and served by University students. During the meal Prof Hall spoke of his aims and ambitions for the University during his period of office and also presented a number of awards to lecturers reflecting the high regard they were held in by the students which they taught. A very enjoyable event and our best wishes go to both Irene and Martin for a very successful time at Salford and I look forward to meeting them again before my year of office ends.
Sunday 11 October
Our first engagement on our return was a brass band concert in aid of my charity fund. It wasn't just any brass band it was one of the best in the area the Wyre Brass Band. Christine Hudson and other friends in Cadishead Band had done all the arranging and filled Irlam Catholic Club for what turned out to be a brilliant bight of brass band music. The Mayoress and I really enjoyed ourselves and were very pleased when over £500 was raised for my charities.
Saturday 3 October
We started the day at the excellent Eccles Community Art Gallery where Karen Illingworth, the very enthusiastic manager met us. We had been to the gallery before and had been very impressed with the work that Karen is doing and so it was good to have another chance to look round and see what was going on. We had been invited to award the prizes in an art competition entitled Paint the Town. Budding artists had been asked to paint images of Eccles in a number of categories. All the work was of a very high standard but the styles were so different it would have been difficult to choose any winners. Fortunately that very difficult job had already been done for me and I had the easy job of congratulating everyone on their efforts and handing out the prizes. I really must congratulate Karen for her drive and enthusiasm in organising the competition and keeping the gallery going. I managed to talk to a couple of the artists who had found discovering their artistic abilities had really given them a new direction to their lives which makes all Karen's efforts worthwhile.
We went straight from the Art Gallery to a major civic event, the Salford Food Fayre which had been set up on the lawns in front of the Civic Centre. It was a very blowy day and started off rather quietly but as the winds got stronger the numbers of people got larger. There were cookery demonstrations as well as a couple of tents where local suppliers were selling their wares as well as local restaurants and hotels offering tastes of some of their dishes - had some really excellent food there! Citywide Catering Service were also selling afternoon teas in aid of my charities - silver salvers and everything. Unfortunately around 1pm the winds were gusting so strongly that in order to ensure the safety of everyone on the site it was decided that the event would have to close. It was a great pity as even as the marquees were being taken down people were still arriving on the site. The Fayre is a brilliant idea and is obviously very popular having been held now for 5 years. Although I will no longer be Mayor I look forward to having the opportunity to attend the 6th Food Fayre in 2010 and many congratulations to the organisers for assembling such a good cross section of local providers highlighting the fact that there are a lot of local products available which save air miles and probably taste better than items that have travelled 100's or 1000's of miles to get to us.
In the evening the Mayoress and I went to a dinner dance to celebrate the 175th Anniversary of Court 122 Farmers Ploughboy of the Ancient Order of Foresters. This event was being held at Buile Hill, which is one of our favourite venues, because as one of their senior officers advised me they think it is the best banqueting facility in Salford - another feather in their caps! Before going to the dinner I knew very little about the Foresters and their charitable works as well as their financial activities as a Friendly Society. The Mayoress and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening which was topped off by the very generous donation from the Society of £175.00 to my charity fund in recognition of their 175th Anniversary.
Our evening with the Foresters was our last engagement before I went on a week's holiday on the Oxford Canal which after the last couple of weeks and the fact that we had completed our 150th engagement since 20 May was very welcome.
Friday 2 October
We spent today visiting two primary schools in very different parts of the City. In the morning we went to St Augustine's Church of England Primary in Pendlebury to open their eco wildlife garden. It really is encouraging to see just how involved schools are getting in the green agenda now. Several Salford Schools have now got Green Flag status and from talking to the teachers and children they really do appreciate how important it is to do everything we can to save our planet. The garden is lovely and even though it was a very wet and windy day we could picture the storyteller area working really well on a sunny day!
After our visit to Pendlebury we went straight on to Ellenbrook Community Primary School to help open, in conjunction with Barbara Keeley MP, their Community Friendship Garden. Because the weather was so bad we did most of the opening ceremony indoors. This included a very nice buffet as well as being entertained by the whole school singing for their guests. After a pause for the children to put their coats on we braved the weather and went outside to cut the ribbon. The garden is absolutely beautiful and I am sure it will provide a peaceful haven for children and adults alike in the years to come.
Thursday 1 October
An evening visit to the Manchester Cathedral to celebrate evensong in the choristry of the Cathedral as part of Bishop Nigel's pilgrimage. Bishop Nigel is in the middle of his pilgrimage which involves visiting each of the parishes for which he is responsible. Earlier today he spent some time visiting churches near to the City Centre and also visited the Big Wheel. We had the benefit of the full Cathedral choir which was amazing hearing the purity of the voices and the skill of the singers in very close proximity made for a very uplifting occasion.
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