Thursday, 30 June 2016

Showing spanish students around Southport Town Hall

Spanish VIth form student who are spending time at KGV and Christ the King visited me in the Southport Town Hall this week. It was a pleasure to host this visit and good to see some many young people enjoying themselves in Southport. The students came from Vigo in Spain and like Southport it is a seaside town, but unlike Southport it has a premier league football team. At the end of the visit the students presented me with a hand written book they had prepared which gave a biographical sketch of each of the students. Not for the first time I was tad embarrassed by the exceptional language skills of the students compare to that of our own people.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Our most treasured resident, handled only under licence, and recorded in verse

Whilst on the beach litter pick on Formby sands I was powerfully reminded of another visit to our coastline in the company of Duncan one of Coastal Rangers. The trip was organised by the Brownies  early in the year to show the girls the dunes and the slacks where the natterjacks toads breed. One of the people helping with the beach clean posted on her twitter account this picture of our most treasured resident. It give me the opportunity to reproduce Jean Sprackland's  poem.

Birkdale Nightingale

The Birkdale Nightingale a poem by Jean Sprackman is set in the same landscape:

(Bufo calamito – the Natterjack toad)

On Spring nights you can hear them
two miles away, calling their mates
to the breeding place, a wet slack in the dunes.
Lovers hiding nearby are surprised
by desperate music. One man searched all night
for a crashed spaceship.

For amphibians, they are terrible swimmers:
where it's tricky to get ashore, they drown.
By day they sleep in crevices under the boardwalk,
run like lizards from cover to cover
without the sense to leap when a gull snaps.
Yes, he can make himself fearsome,
inflating his lungs to double his size.
But cars on the coast road are not deterred.

She will lay a necklace of pearls in the reeds.
Next morning, a dog will run into the water and scatter them.
Or she'll spawn in a footprint filled with salt rain
that will dry to a crust in two days.

Still, when he calls her and climbs her
they are well designed. The nuptial pads on his thighs
velcro him to her back. She steadies beneath him.

The puddle brims with moonlight.
Everything leads to this.

from Tilt (Cape, 2007)

Opening a new older persons appartments in Ainsdale/Birkdale/Southport

Mill Lane , where the car wash used to be , has now a new build development of older peoples apartment and I was invited to help open it on Monday. I was given an extensive tour of the accommodation on offer. There were one and two bed apartments and all the facilities you would expect for supported independent living. The developers McCarthy Stone have been busy in our borough and have several developments catering for different levels of dependency.

Historically this is in the Parish of Birkdale as the old maps will confirm but it is so close to Ainsdale Village Centre, and within the Ainsdale local government Ward, that it is generally described as being in Ainsdale.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Clearing up the mess left by others, first task of the week

This morning I was at the National Trust in Formby to help with a litter pick on the beach. It was good to see so many volunteers from the NT and Lancashire Wildlife Trust including a contingent from Merseytravel. We were also joined by pupils from St Luke's  CofE School Formby.

Update, I have just received information from Andy on the beach clean:
The results from the event are as follows:

91 kg of waste was collected by 86 volunteers in 90 minutes including 66 children and teachers/helpers from our local St Luke's primary .

This total included 648 separate items of plastic and unfortunately, a sizable number of wet wipes and cotton bud stick were found.

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Armed Forces Day in Southport

Sophie a Brownie from Ainsdale 
 Lord Street was filled with folk viewing the parade for Arms Forces Day. There were lots of proud Mum's and Dad's watching their children. We had Rainbows and Brownies from Ainsdale and Scouts from Holy Trinity, Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, veterans, reservists and people currently serving in the armed forces in the Parade. The band in their scarlet uniforms led the way. It was good to meet folk from SSAFA and the British Legion who do such good and important work and had organised the day. And finally thank you to the ladies of Christ Church who made us refreshments
Bandsmen and women station outside of Preston

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Anthony Hill hosts charity event in Crosby

 We left The Strawberry Tea in time to get to another Afternoon Tea in Crosby. This one hosted by my old friend Anthony Hill and the Crosby Mayor's Charity Committee. There were more cakes, sumptuous cakes as well as cream scones, sandwiches and tea made in a china pot and poured into china cups.
Anthony with volunteers from his committee
Lovely to meet this lady who is 99 yrs old. She had a great time and is clearly a fan of Sid's

Sid with his ukuleles. He does a fine rendition of George Formby 
I had delightful company of Linda Mc (for those outside of the region follow the link) and her mother. She also introduced me to her nephew who acted as roadie to the entertainer -Sid, who is famous for appearing on Britain's got talent.

A Strawberry Afternoon Tea with Age Concern Crosby

Good to be in Crosby this afternoon. I attended Age Concern's Strawberry Afternoon Tea. I bought some excellent cakes, home made jam (rhubarb and ginger like my mother used to make) and won some body butter (what ever that is) on the tombola. I also picked up some very fine hanging baskets, two for work and one to adorn the back garden for daughter Elspeth's 21 birthday party.

It was an excellent event and good to see many people supporting it.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Sefton Adult Community Centre- an uplifting and inspiring event

It was a miserable day, the rain was torrential as I left Litherland and Seaforth station on my bike. I arrived at the Adult Learning Centre soaked to the skin. The overnight news was as depressing as the weather and so it was with a heavy heart that in entered the building.
I was travelling under my own steam so I did not have the full Ruritanian Mayoral garb with me and for once I regretted that because as the morning proceeded I wished I could have

Lynne Jones, a volunteer, got a special award.
Lynne Jones, a volunteer, got a special award
 made the event  special of those to whom I was awarding certificates.

The centre offers a range of course some are purely vocational-yoga, embroidery etc, others are aimed to improve employability. It was truly and inspirational event. I guess if you are very close to such courses you may not grasp the transforming impact that they can have. I met people who had come and done English and Maths courses that had got them into work. I met others who were rebuilding their life after illness who  had found a way forward through study.

I also met people who had come not for economic gain but because of the had fond an interst they wanted to develop, education for its own sake.

Congratulations all round, it was uplifting and inspiring. A special mention to Lynne Jones who volunteers at the centre. She has clearly played an important role in the success of this project and the warmth and the enthusiasm of the applause demonstrated the affection that she is held in

To Bootle seafarers past, present and future Hugh Baird brings hope with new Port Academy

Yesterday was National Seafarers day and therefore appropriate that the new Port Academy should get its official opening. It is part of the Hugh Baird College with which I am increasingly impressed.
The maritime sector is part of the DNA of Bootle and with the creation of the new Port Academy the hope is that people can received high quality training that will fit them for the jobs that will be created by the expansion of the Port. The opportunities with be available from the age of 14 to adulthood.

One of the key events in Bootle's maritime history-and indeed in the nations history - is the Battle of the Atlantic. One of the heroes of that Battle was Bootle man Capt Johnny Walker. In many ways Bootle Tow Hall is a museum dedicated to his exploits . It was therefore appropriate that his grandson should be at the opening ceremony. Amongst many other dignitaries invited was the Earl of Derby who is pictured below in naval uniform with Johnny Walker's grandson. 
Royal Naval engineers and members of the logistics corp had delivered an anchor to grace the outside of the new Port Academy building and I understand that they have also brought with them a torpedo which will doubtless be install elsewhere in the building. The anchor was blessed and sprinkled with holy water by the Rev Dr Crispin Pailing, Rector of Liverpool Parish Church which is often referred to as the Seafarers church.

Sea cadets drumming at the Port Academy opening
The College has done well to establish a wide range of courses from entry level upwards thanks to partnerships with training organisations and JMU. You don't have to swallow all the optimistic hype about the Northern Powerhouse to recognise that this is an important project and one that has practical applications especially in preparing local people for job opportunities in the expanding port operation. Liverpool now has a deep sea port that can take 90+%of the worlds shipping that is a dramatic improvement.

It was also good to meet people from the mental health charity Imagine Independence who were checking out training and job opportunities for people recovering from mental ill health.

 I did take photo of the Sefton Sea Cadets from Litherland and Southport but regrettably it has not turned out.
The blessing of the anchor

The Earl of Derby and Captain Johnny Walker's grandson

bust of Captain Johnny Walker

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Attending the Queen's visit to open the convention facilities in Liverpool

The Queen arrived at the International Business Festival (IBF) to open the new convention facilities in Liverpool to be met by the obligatory line of Mayors.

Before she arrived we had all be tutored in the appropriate things to do; doff your hat with left hand and shake hands with you right hand. All this advice was almost negated when someone thrust a brochure into our hands as the royal party arrived. Fortunately the mayoress of St Helens had a capacious handbag and collected up all the brochures.

There followed a short period of polite conversation as the Queen was introduced to each of us in turn. I can record no fascinating snippets of conversation other to report that I explained that Sefton included Southport and Bootle.

Next came Prince Philip who had a conversational opening prepared for us; what did you do for a living? Well I am still gainfully employed and so we embarked on an exchange about mental health and fundraising.

We were then ushered into the conference centre and given a quick tour of the IBF. I have to say I was impressed at the showcasing of British exports which seemed to have an emphasis on technology and innovation .
another British built car allegedly the most powerful car
that can be legally driven on the highway

The new Aston Martin

After the brief tour we came into the main arena where the Queen was to officially open the new convention facilities. Whilst we were waiting for the other dignitaries to assemble I took a quick snap of the assembled Mayors
 Next up was a performance by the Liverpool Pagoda Youth Orchestra who played a collection of pieces including Greensleves
I have to say that this short musical interlude was very well received and the arrangement of the quintessentially English song for Chinese instruments was very successful.

The purpose of the day was to declare the new centre open.

That accomplished the civic party lined up at the front door to bade the Queen farewell. I have to tell you that we were all a little too hot in our robes and I for one was keen to head off to my office so that I could de-robe.

There was quite a crowd of well wishers and more waiting at the Liverpool Town Hall. My experience as a mayor has given me a small insight into what it is like to have official engagements. Whatever you may think of the institution of the monarchy it has to be acknowledged that the substantial round of event the Queen undertook today in Liverpool would  exhaust most of us and yet there she was patiently and graciously carrying out all the hand shaking, greetings and every other duty people expected of her. It was impressive.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Sefton 5k run-sounding the hooter

 I was invited to start the 5k run held at Crosby Waterside and organised by Active Sefton. The run attracted over 300 entrants. The young women on the platform with me had just led a high temp warm up which, to the uninitiated , looked like enough exercise for the average evening.

I was impressed by the high level of participation and the wide spectrum of people from across the community that the event attracted. Some were serious distance runners, others have joined in the new trend for Park Runs whilst other had come for a pleasant brisk walk.   I spied a good few council employees along with some teachers- including former Deputy Head of Farnborough Rd Junior School (FRJS) Dan Haines.   Sadly I could not stay to watch the runners come home as I was due at a Governor's meeting at FRJS in Birkdale at 7.00pm. Last year I am told the first runner was home in 16 mins. The route was twice around the lake and I saw the first participants complete the first lap in 7mins.44sec

The group of men on the left were not joining in but I was reliably informed that one of their number Cllr John Fairclough has enrolled at a gym. I would be happy to sponsor him for a charity of his choice he joins next year

Opening the new Manna training centre Maghull

I was asked to open a New Day centre in Maghull run principally for people with learning difficulties. The sun shone as we assemble outside for the opening ceremony> Indeed the sun shone so brightly we had to move in door to do the photos of me cutting the ribbon

It was great to meet so many of the people who are going to use the centre and to see their enthusiasm. The team have great and ambitious plans for the future and I wish them every good fortune.

As we contemplate this Europe of peace we must never forget the heroes....

It was Ernest Jones wish that he should be presented with the Legion d’Honneur medal which the French President had awarded him in recognition of his service in WW2. Ollie Cowans has the full story in this week's Southport Champion
Presenting Ernest Jones with his medal. Photo by Ollie Cowans
 Lynn Thompson contacted me to ask whether as Mayor I could present Ernest with his medal. I was, of course, delighted and privileged to do so. The ceremony took place in Southport Hospital this afternoon. In making the presentation I read from the letter sent to Ernest along with his medal this passage:

'As we contemplated this Europe of peace, we must never forget the heroes like you, who came from Britain and the Commonwealth to begin the liberation of Europe by liberating France. We owe our freedom and security to your dedication, because you were ready to risk your life.'

It was a very humbling experience. I was pleased Ernest had his wished fulfilled and it was good to meet his wife, daughter and son in law. The should be very proud of their hero.

Ollie took a video of the event which he posted on twitter:

To loose one cake may be regarded a misfortune; to loose two looks like carelessness

This is the tale of two cakes that got away.

When I attend a Mayoral function I get a briefing sheet about the organisation I am visiting and who I am going to meet. The sheet also advices what I ought to wear-lounge suit, dinner jacket, robes etc, There is also a section that tells me if the organisation is going to make me a presentation to me. This is typically a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers or a cake. I usually make arrangements for this to be handed over to a local charity or other worthy cause.

When I attended the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union Conference the briefing advised that they were going to present me with a cake. I mentioned this to the chaplain and said I would bring it along to the church after I had opened the Conference as the Youth Club were having a cake sale. Sure enough after I had made my speech of welcome I was ushered down to the front of the conference by the General Secretary. On a table there was placed a very fine cake baked by delegates from Oldham. I must admit that I thought it was a tad big for the plans I had for its consumption. The photographer was there and I smiled and made the appropriate thank yous.

Just I was about to lift the cake and head for the Floral Hall door the cake was snatched away. Apparently they did not intend me to have the cake but had arranged to give it to the British Legion home Byng House. And that is a very good place for the cake to sent.

The next week I was at the Maghull Canal Fest. The refreshments were provided by Scrummies Café. I was told that the wanted to present me with a cake. The photographers all gathered round to snap me cutting the cake. The other members of the group with whom I had travelled on The Pride of Sefton joined in the photo. When we were all done the cake was put in a box and was stowed away in the Mayoral car.

This cake got as far as my kitchen. I put on the kettle to make a pot of tea and started reviewing the photos I had taken. Imagine my shock when I came across this one of the box the cake originally arrived in:

 Ah well, I delivered it to the Mayor of Maghull next morning and I am delighted to learn that she is going to raffle it for her Mayor's charity; the Honeysuckle team at the Women's Hospital, which is very good result.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Congratulations to Maghull Canal Fest a brilliant event 200 yrs of the Leeds Liverpool canal

on board the Pride of Sefton 2 with the Mayor of Maghull (and Josh her consort), Peter Gill the chair of Aintree Parish Council (and his wife) and Bill Esterson.
As the clouds darkened over Melling I set sail on the Pride of Sefton at the head of a flotilla of narrow boats making their way into the Canal Fest in Maghull.

The Canal tow paths and bridges on our way were lined with people joining in the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Leeds Liverpool canal.  Our destination was the Canal Fest being held at the Maghull Cricket ground.

On our way we passed many things of interest and we were lucky to have such an informed guide the Captain of the Pride of Sefton Dan

It is hard to grasp just how important the canals were to the growth of industrial Britain. 200 years ago the new canal had a transformative impact of the North of England. It would be good if we could have a modern day equivalent-say HS3?

Dan also pointed out the pill boxes that were build in WW2
and which I have posted about separately.

Josh, the Mayor of Maghull's consort, was also a mine of information, he frequently walks the tow paths and as a child had an arrangement with one of the local houses to stop off  to collect apples as he kayaked down the canal. Nowadays he fishes this stretch for pike. I was sorry to hear that he threw the fish back as I believe that it is good to eat
Arriving at Maghull cricket ground

When we arrived I met Adam Ryan who was very keen to come on board. Dan did the honours and after a photo gave him a tour of the boat

It was good to bump into my good friend Tony Robertson who took the next two photos. You can read his write up of the day here

As regular readers will know I had to choose the winner of a model boat building competition yesterday and I chose The Sarah after one of my grandchildren. This rather left her twin sister out of it so I was delighted to spot a boat in the flotilla named The Lily May

photo by Tony Robertson

The band entertained the crowds
By now the threatened rain had begun in earnest. Bill and I said words of welcome from the stage and headed off to the tea tent. The catering came from Scrummies Café in Maghull and was excellent. They had even baked a cake for the Mayor -but that is another story
another cake that got away......