Thursday, 26 May 2016

Formby U3A visit me in the Mayor's Parlour

This morning I had the pleasure of welcoming some of the members of the U3A from Formby to the Mayor's parlour in Bootle.

I travelled down on the train with most of them. I think it fair to say that they were not to clear what they were going to see and their expectations were not that high

I am pleased to say that we confounded their presupposition. Thanks to the Craig, the Mayoral attendant, they had a great morning and freely confessed that they had not expected to have such an interesting time. It was enormously helped by their curiosity and local knowledge. Several of their members had been brought in Bootle and were able to add local knowledge.

We started in the parlour looking at the maces and admiralty oar that proceed the Mayor into council meetings and looked at the various gifts that the Bootle Corporation had received. One of the U3A members remembered that as a young apprentice with family firm had presented a solid silver milk jug to the council which had been made by Boodle and Dunthorne in Liverpool. He was delighted to find it on display in the Mayoress's dinning room.

There is a lot to see in Bootle Town Hall especially in connection with WW2 and the Battle of the Atlantic. In particular the U3A folk were interested in the exploits of Capt Johnnie Walker whose celebrated exploits included sinking five U boats in one day-and incidentally downing a polar bear which had been mistaken for a sixth.

I will no doubt have several more Town Hall visits in the coming year both in Bootle and Southport so I will include more detail with each one. My thanks to Formby U3A who made this first visit such a success .

42nd Street , a great night out in Southport

Last night saw me at the Little Theatre in Southport to see a production of 42nd Street by the BOS Musical Theatre Company (formerly Birkdale Orpheus Soc) .

I have to say that the music, the dance, the production in fact everything about the evening was brilliant. It was a high energy production and you left the theatre exhausted having watched the cast expertly tap their way through all the well known numbers; Lullaby of Broadway, 42nd Street and many more besides.

It is not my intention to write a review-there will be one on the NODA website shortly-but having sat through many amateur performances (and taken part in a few myself many years ago) I would say that this is one of the very best I have seen.

I was delighted to meet the cast afterwards and their enthusiasm and commitment was amazing. They have been in rehearsal for about six months and that explains the very high standard they achieved.

Charles Moss was the Musical Director and both the chorus and the principals did him proud. Unlike many amateur singing groups there was a good contingent of men. The musicians in the pit, though unseen, were up to the same high standard as the rest of the production.

The choreographer, Mary Forbes, is clearly a formidable member of the team and from the very first scene right up until the end the dance routines were breathtaking. Talking to other members of the audience the dancing was the one thing they all remarked on. The whole production was expertly brought together by Director Liz Clarke.

The show is on till Saturday when there are two performances. If you like musical theatre and are in Southport I wholeheartedly recommend 42nd Street. You will not be disappointed. I am delighted they invited me - I hope the other productions I have been invited to as Mayor are as enjoyable.




Wednesday, 25 May 2016

recycled plastic bottles make magnificent Birthday Blooms for the Queen

Artist Sarah-Jane Richards shows me the Birthday in Blooms artwork at King's Gardens
This morning I cycled over to King's Gardens to open a new art installation. The project, led by Sarah-Jane Richards, used re-cycled plastic bottles to create  'birthday blooms' for the Queen. It was truly impressive and shows how art and imagination can transform something as humble as a discarded fizzy drinks bottle.

The blooms were painted by all manner of folk including students from The Learning Rooms, Bridge Inn Farm , Holy FamilyRC Primary School , Holy Trinity CofE Primary School, Merefield School, along with 1st Southport Cub pack, Go with the Flow art group and visitors to the garden. All 500 were hand painted and make a magnificent site.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Litherland Children's Centre Gala Day

left to right Louise Bridge (Children's Centre Manager) Sarah Greer (Headteacher Litherland Moss Primary School) Mayor
Just had a brilliant morning at the Litherland Gala. A great community event with an excellent turn out -despite the weather- and lots of partner organisation. Many thanks to everyone involved.

This was the opening of the new Children's Centre building and  families and volunteers came to support the even in large numbers. The event overflowed into the Litherland Sports Centre. There were lots of stalls selling everything from beauty products to cakes alongside Nana's knitting.. ( I can thoroughly recommend Lloyd's Salted Caramel fudge.)

The 2nd Bootle Scouts were there as were the Brownies, Litherland Youth and Community Centre , Sefton Community Learning, the Venus Centre , Adactus Housing , Litherland Sports Park , Merseyside Police and countless others.
After the opening I was able to look around the excellent facilities both at the Children's Centre and the sports park. But first I watched a team of youngsters in a Morris Dancing troop. I guess the music would have been an even bigger surprise to Cecil Sharp than it was to me. The girls had clearly put in a lot of practice and I and everyone else was very impressed by their performance

It looked to be a very good team in Litherland, The school has a nursery in in Centre which offers flexible childcare from 8.00 am to 6.00pm  and is developing a 'mud kitchen and sensory/herb garden. Across the way is Rowan Park School with also has first rate facilities including an adventure playground,

Before I went to visit the activities going on at the Sports Park the folk from Litherland Youth and Community Centre enveigled  me into taking part in the foot ball game. I was a dismal failure.

Across at the Sports Park there was dancing in one of the studios which was laid out a bit like a night club and all the participants had coloured lights which shone brightly when the lights were turned down.

By this time the rain  was beginning to ease up and the horse riding was doing a brisk trade.

On may way back to the cafe I was accosted along with Councillor Lappin (who was supporting the event along with her fellow ward councillors ) by one of the 'smoke free for spring' campaigners

It was a great event and my thanks go to the School and Children's Centre for inviting me.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Remembering those unlawfully killed May 2016 we had a Council meeting

It was a new experience for me sitting in the Mayor's chair and taking no part in the debates. I managed to resist the temptation no matter how great the temptation.

I began the meeting by introducing my chaplain Rev Canon Dr Rod Garner who led the prayers before the meeting which included mention of the Hillsborough families. The Council held a minutes silence in remembrance of the 95 who died including those who came from our Borough. I understand that there were more victims from Sefton than any other local government district. In particular we recalled one young man who worked for Sefton, Simon Bell, who like the rest was unlawfully killed.

Presenting tropies at the sports day for Lifeline in NW hosted by Sefton group

 My second engagement of the day was Lifeline's sports event in Netherton. This completion brought together groups from throughout the NW including Manchester, Bolton, Tameside  and Sefton. The drug and alcohol rehabilitation charity had the support of Liverpool Count FA who provided the cups and medals. There were three competitions, five a side football, walking football and rounders. I handed out the trophies and the medals. It was really an uplifting event and the charity are clearly making a significant contribution to recovery

Lifeline  Sefton were victorious in the 5 a side final and Lifeline Tameside

Welcome Batzenberger Winzerkapelle Pfaffenweiler to Southport!

I had enormous pleasure this morning welcoming to the Town Gardens a German windband. We are greatly indebted to the Reed family of Birkdale for making this happen. Son Nick directs the band in his spare moments when he is not teaching or performing himself. Mum and Dad-better known to me as my neighbours on the Birkdale Irrigation Allotment site- sorted out the logistics at this end.

 The Town Gardens soon filled up as the band struck up. The German band had a much rounder, fuller sound than a Northern Brass band and the crowd was soon tapping their feet to the music. It wasn't long before we had a couple of dancers (also plot holders at the allotment) Linda and Fritz.

Nick was happy to have his photo taken with residents and tourists alike. I spoke to a lot of people in the crowd and it was good to see a large party from Glasgow enjoying their visit to our town. I was impressed by the knowledge of many of the locals who seemed to know a lot about the music including a couple of residents who had lived near the town from where he band had come.

I should say that the region the band comes from is a wind growing area and the band is sponsored by the wine growers and several of the members are employed in viticulture We held a reception for the band in the Town Hall and they presented me with a gift from the sponsors! (and for those who are checking I have declared it!)

It was a great day and the music and the friendliness of our visitors impressed everyone who turned up. Thanks to Maureen Fearn and her helpers who collected for the Mayors Charity.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Dementia Action Alliance Sefton launch

It is Dementia Awareness week and I was delighted to be asked to open the launch of the Sefton Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) this afternoon.

I was met by the chair Kim Crowe who day job is as CEO of Parkhaven in Maghull. I think she was a little disconcerted to see me turn up on my Brompton bike.

It was an excellent event. It was good to see so many groups represented and to hear first hand from carers and those who are living with Alzheimer's. We heard from churches in Formby about their awareness training programme which had been delivered to an impressive number of people and of their efforts to engage with local business.

I waspleased to meet with people I have worked with in the past and also to meet some of the groups who have asked me to visit during the year including Sefton Pensioners Advocacy, Crosby Age Concern, The Atkinson, Sefton Library service and members of the 800 group Liverpool and Sefton Age Concern. A full list of the groups who belong to the Alliance can be found on their website.

I wish them every success and judging from today's event the Alliance have assembled all the ingredients for success

The beginning of my Mayoral year

Daughter Katie and grandchildren Sarah and Lily join me in the Mayor's parlour after the ceremony
Last night I was installed as Mayor of Sefton at a meeting of the council held in Southport town hall.

I am going to use this blog to record all my comings and goings as mayor.

At a reception held afterwards in The Atkinson I had the chance to thank my predecessor Stephen Kermode (who passed on a very good joke), divest myself of the Ruritanian outfit  and to outline some of my plans for the year.

For 36 years I have worked alongside people with mental health issues on their journey to living a full and independent life. I hope to use the opportunity that the mayoralty gives me to continue to challenge the stigma and ignorance that so often blights their lives inhibiting them from playing their full part in our communities.  I intend to work alongside the 800 group of charities-so called because together they have given 800 years of service to our communities-to include those who are often excluded from the life of the borough.
later, without the Ruratanian robes....

Looking at the diary for the coming year it is dominated by the remembrance of war. We mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme at events throughout the borough. I shall be at Southport where the war memorial has a special chapel dedicated to those young men who died there. I shall lay a paving stone dedicated to a Bootle man who received the Victoria Cross for his bravery on the centenary of his death. In June shall  the Royal Hotel to commemorate the battle of Waterloo in the district named after the battle. It is a blessing that Europe has found a peaceful way of resolving its disputes.

During the year I hope to have the opportunity, on behalf of the borough, to thank individuals, voluntary groups, faith communities and  businesses who make our borough such a diverse and successful place.

I have no doubt that along the way I shall encounter many challenges, not least of all from those who will regard me as an imposter as every self respecting Sandgrounder knows that there is only one Mayor of Southport and that is Maureen Fearn!