Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Visiting Foodbanks in the south of the borough

My first stop was at St Leonard's in Bootle where I met up with Debbie again. She had been nominated for an award earlier in the year by one of her volunteers. Most of the volunteers on the day that I visited were former firefighters. The centre also had a welfare rights adviser available.

Everything was very well organised in accordance with the Trussel Trust's good practice. The centre had just taken delivery of a new trolley,in the photo, donated by the staff at Maghull Lidl .

Next stop was the main storage site for the various foodbanks in the area situated at the Waterloo Town Hall. Gail, the manager, explained the various partnerships they have developed with supermarkets, local businesses and most particularly with the churches and schools. I was impressed by the professional organisation. All the volunteers knew the drill and it all seeemed to work very well. I was interested to learn that they produce a regular shortage list of products they need to make up the deliveries. I know myself that you are not sure what is needed. Each bag has a set variety of goods and sometimes the foodbank has to 'buy in' products to ensure they get the right balance of foodstuffs.

At this time of year they would love to receive Easter Eggs

The shortage Toiletries for this month are as follows:
Shower gel
Washing up liquid
Sanitary items
Shaving foam
Tooth brushes
Nappies size  4, 5 & 6

UHT Milk
UHT Juice
Tinned Potatoes/Instant Mash
Tinned Tomatoes
Tinned Fruit
Rice Pudding

If you have any queries please contact Gayle on 0151 934 3055/0151 933 1300

Many thanks to all the volunteers and staff who showed me around. I was very impressed by their work. They are all doing a very important job 

Southport Music Festival- young people showcase their talents

The Mayor, I learn, is President of the Southport Music Festival and so it came to pass last week that I was down to chair their AGM. I was unable to attend the festival this year as I was already booked up so the 'President's opening remarks were something of a challenge. I have chaired some pretty boring meetings but this one was certainly not in that category. A dedicated group of volunteers have kept this Festival alive whilst many across the country many have folded. Today, in its 110th year, it flourishes.

After the business of the meeting was concluded-with special presentations to some of the volunteers- we all sat down to a concert given by some of the young people who had entered the Festival in 2016. The standard was amazingly high. I took a few pictures and I am grateful to Ian Dexter for providing me with some additional ones. Let's start with a couple of videos which will illustrate the quality.

Charlie on the piano

A memorable sketch about dentists
a great musical hall turn
another excellent soprano

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Visiter article this week

There is an impressively large number of people involved in charitable and voluntary activities in our borough. It has been my privilege to meet many of them and to acknowledge their contribution and thank them for their work.

I have also been able to support their fundraising efforts. This week I want to tell you about my own fundraising initiative. On 1st April I shall be hosting the Mayor’s Charity Ball in Southport. I have decided that the money should go to locally based charities. In particular I shall be supporting the 800 Group of Charities. The name was coined when the group was established because between them the charities had provided over 800 years of service to the local community. Full details of the membership will be posted on http://themayoralblog.blogspot.co.uk and more information will be available at the Ball.

The 800 group of charities provide an impressive portfolio of local services. They work with a wide range of client groups including those with mental ill-health, learning difficulties, older people, those with hearing and sight loss and those in need of hospice care. Tickets are available from the Mayor of Sefton’s Office on 0151 934 2062 or  mayorsoffice@sefton.gov.uk.  I very much hope you will support this event.

As preparations for the Ball are taking place the day to day work of the Mayoralty continues. I have collected money raised for the Mayor’s charity from members of the Castle Bingo in Bootle and from staff at Magdalen House-my grateful thanks to both of them. The Scouts in Lydiate interviewed me as part of their Writer’s Badge and I was also delighted to attend a Shabbat Service of Southport’s Reform Synagogue. As readers will know as I have visited groups throughout the borough I have been delightfully surprised by the quality of the home-made food that I have been offered. Certainly the Synagogue and my recent visit to a 100th birthday party at the Soroptimist House in Southport rank very high on my list of the best baking.

Next week I am off to another 100th Birthday celebration, this time for Southport resident Ethel Williams. I have also been invited to visit The Seafarer’s Centre in Seaforth. The Centre extends the hand of friendship to thousands of seafarers every year. They provide practical and emotional support for seafarers, the often invisible workforce on whom we all depend to ship 95% of UK trade.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Three young women open a new business in Southport's Ocean Plaza

I was pleased to help launch a new business at Ocean Plaza. Three young women who have already set up a Vets practice in Widnes and have now opened a new one in Pets at Home in Southport. There was, of course, cake, balloons and a ribbon to cut. I wish them every success.
Photo by Daniel Woodcock
Photo by Daniel Woodcock

Visiting those who go down the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters.

the new mega cranes

I have spent the day with the Liverpool Seafarers' Centre which is located in our borough at Waterloo where they provide recreational facilities for seafarers including access to the internet, subsidised international SIM cards, a library, bar, cafĂ©, TV lounge and a chaplaincy.
The organisation has been on the go since 1856 and brings together the two main church organisations providing support to those who go down the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters.

Unloading cocoa
The centre is well used and I met sailors from several countries including India and the Philippines. I was then taken to visit a couple of ships. The first one was carrying a cargo of cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast which was being unloaded. The Master of the ship showed us round and I was accompanied by Geoff Rafferty who is a trustee of the centre. In a previous life he was a pilot on the River Mersey and I met him first when the City of Liverpool conferred on the Pilots Association the Freedom of the city

We can sometimes forget how important merchant shipping is to us. 95% of the UK's imports arrive by sea. The new Port of Liverpool, also in Sefton, is taking shape. I was present earlier this year at the new Port of Liverpool Academy which is an excellent initiative of Hugh Baird college in Bootle to prepare local people for the new jobs that will come with the development. At present there is nowhere in the north that the new large container ships can dock. The furtherest north port for them is Felixstowe on the east coast. The new mega cranes, pictured at the top of this posting, were floated across from China and are already a landmark that can be seen as far north as Formby. As yet the new facility is not open for business. Many local people are concerned about the logistics of shifting the cargo from the port to a rail head or the motorway. It strikes me it is a job for a railway.  Of course the ships sail out of Liverpool with cargo and we saw rows of new Jaguar cars lined up waiting to go to China and the USA. The biggest export would appear to be waste metal which finds its way to China, the USA and Turkey.

The second ship I visited was a Greek owned and Bahamas registered vessel carrying grain from Australia. It had been 45 days at sea and many of the crew were finishing their contract in Liverpool and being flown home. The Master Dubovchenko Ievgen from Ukraine  showed us round. He was also being visited by representatives of the owners who had made a day trip up to the NW to see the ship. This being a Greek owned ship there was a Icon of St Nicholas which, I learned, is always hung on the bridge in Greek ships.

The Chief Engineer them took us below to the Engine room where we met more of the crew. The approaching Hurricane Doris may well hold this ship up in dock as it is not possible to unload the grain whilst it is raining. This may not please the owners but the crew were looking forward to visiting the city. Apparently one of the popular destinations is the large 24 hour supermarkets.

Merchant shipping is central to our economy. We are a trading nation. There are no doubt those who are keen to build walls but that is not in our interest. As the Master of the first ship I visited (which was crewed by people from Russia, Ukraine and the Philippines) 'we are all sailors here, citizens of the world. '

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Ethel Williams 100th Birthday

It was a real pleasure to meet Ethel Williams on her 100th Birthday. Ethel lives at Dovehaven in Southport.
Ethel was born in Leigh Lancashire in 1917. During the war she served as a Land girl in Montgomeryshire in central Wales where she met her husband who worked for the Forestry Commission and settled after the war.

It was great to hear Ethel's memories and to discuss how much things have improved. She spoke of how much difference the automatic washing machine made. Ethel played the organ at the Victoria Methodist church in Blowick.

Southport Reform Synagogue invite me to a Shabbat Service

The Reform Synagogue in Southport invited me to a Shabbat Service to be precise Tu B’shevat Shabbat Shirah. The Service leader was Student Rabbi Kath Vardi. There was a special, fruit themed chavurah afterwards.
I was most impressed by the was Kath Vardi led the service in large part singing the liturgy in Hebrew. We were invited to look at the scrolls and the way the readings were laid out.

It was good to hear that the Iman Soyful Alam was coming to the synagogue to give a talk and answer questions. He is certain to get a friendly welcome.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Southport's Holocaust Memorial service

The Holocaust Memorial service, presided over by Michael Braham, was one of the most compelling and powerful remembrances for the victims of genocide held in our town.

Young people from the VIth Form Colleges at KGV and Runshaw joined the pupils of St John's Ainsdale in reminding us of the enormous human cost of the holocaust. They told the stories of individual victims, those who had died and those who lived on after the war. Their thoroughly researched presentations had a great emotional impact.

Their contributions were followed by the Imam of Southport Mosque Soyful Alam. The packed congregation, in Christ Church on Lord St, had listened in respectful silence to the young people and to Michael Braham talk about the events that took place in the death camps of Nazi Germany and of the plight of refugees -especially the children- who came to this country and our town. The history they related addressed the theme of the service; how after the genocide can life go on.

pupils from St John's Ainsdale re enact a scene where children disembark from the kindertransport

Into the silence stepped Soyful to take his place behind the lectern. His powerful address confronted the continuing use of genocide in the world today. He spoke of his despair and our failure to learn the lessons of the holocaust. The world stands aside and fails to act. It is hard to find hope when night after night we see images of genocide and we know how many hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Soyful warned this failure to act undermines our common humanity and the bonds that should link us all together.

Such was the impact of Soyful's address that the congregation broke in spontaneous and prolonged applause and in the tea room after the service it was the main topic of conversation.

Peter Dowd MP's was unable to attend the service and I was asked to say a few words. As world events are played out and once again the warping influence of nationalism and populist politicians threaten the peace and stability of our world it is more important than assert our values. One of my responsibilities as Mayor is to preside over Citizenship ceremonies during which we declare our allegiance to the British values of respect and tolerance. We must fight intolerance and prejudice wherever we encounter it. The Holocaust was an indescribable atrocity, and we must never forget the victims of this evil and those other acts of genocide that continue to this day. The work of Holocaust Memorial Day keeps alive the memory of those who died and those who survived.  We own a great debt to those who dedicate themselves to educating the public. One such person is Pauline Collier (pictured above with the pupils of St John's), who is a Fellow at the Imperial War Museum. She has been central to the success of the Southport Holocaust Memorial service as long as I can remember. Thanks to her and those who work alongside her the next generation have been taught about the terrible event that took place.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

My Midweek Visiter column- first week in February

Spontaneous applause broke out during the Holocaust Memorial service in Southport last week after the Imam of Southport Mosque, Soyful Alam, had spoken. There were extraordinarily powerful and moving presentations during the afternoon including one from Rabbi Ariel Abel who told the congregation that he had recently discovered the details of how the genocide had directly impacted on his family.

Soyful Alam spoke of his despair at our failure to learn the lessons of the holocaust. The world stands aside and fails to act. It is hard to find hope when night after night we see images of genocide and we know how many hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed. Soyful warned this failure to act undermines our common humanity and the bonds that should link us all together.

Pupils from St John’s Ainsdale working with their teacher Sarah Myers and Pauline Collier-a fellow of the Imperial War Museum- acted out a drama exploring the concerns of children who escaped to Britain during the last war through the kindertransport scheme. They were followed by students from KGV and Runshaw VIth Form Colleges who had researched the plight of individual victims of the holocaust after a recent visit to Auschwitz.
The Holocaust memorial came at the end of a busy week. I attended Chinese New Year Celebrations with the Chinese Government’s NW Consul, cut the 10th birthday cake at the party for the Formby Swimming Pool, cut a ribbon tied over a new park bench to mark the 50th Anniversary of Formby Rotary and attended Diana Beldam’s 100th Birthday tea party in Southport. There are lots of pictures and information on the Mayoral Blog http://themayoralblog.blogspot.co.uk
Crosby Scouts held a Burn’s Night Supper at Sacred Heart School. I have been very impressed by the work of local scouts. Having seen them in action I fully understand why more and more young people are opting to join up. The Explorer Scouts in Crosby put on a great night and raise money for their chosen charities.
In the Mayor’s office we are gearing up for the Annual Charity Ball that will be held in Southport on 1st of April this year. All the proceeds will go to local charities. It promises to be a great night. If you would like to come along and support this event drop me a line at Southport or Bootle Town Hall. I will announce further details shortly.

Friday, 3 February 2017

A Brilliant Burns Night Supper with Crosby Scouts

Crosby Scouts certainly know how to through a party. They held a brilliant fundraiser for Burn's Night complete with haggis, piper, dance band and more tartan on display than will be evident at Murrayfield this weekend.

I was greatly impressed by the contribution the Explorer Scouts made. Not only did they throw themselves enthusiastically into the dancing but the quietly and efficiently served the food and washed up afterwards.
The local Alsop drama group told the story of Robbie Burn's -which was clearly a revelation to some sassanachs it followed by a Ceilidh . The event was held at Sacred Heart School and the Head Teacher Andrew Walker and his wife were guests of honour.

100th Birthday Tea Party for Diana Beldam

 I was delighted to be invited to Diana Beldam's 100th Afternoon Tea Party at the Soroptimist House in Southport. There was a great turnout and the members laid on a memorable spread to mark the occasion.
Diana was very proud of her birthday card from the Queen which had pride of place on the mantelpiece along side a host of others.
I asked Diana what the first thing she could remember. She recalled being picked up by her Father and being shown a Zepplin as it flew over her Yorkshire home. Zepplin's began commercial flights in 1910 and during WW1 over 500 people were killed in air raids-although I doubt any got as far north as Yorkshire.
Also at the Tea Party were representatives of Crosby Housing who have a partnership with Southport Soroptimists

Chair of SSHA and Mandy Elliot from Crosby Housing

'Opening' a bench in Formby to mark 50 years of Formby Rotary

As Mayor I have been called upon to open all manner of things this year. But there was a first on my recent visit to Formby Library when I was asked by Formby Rotary to cut the ribbon on a new park bench to mark the clubs 50th Anniversary. Over that period the Rotarians have raised several hundred thousand pounds for good causes locally and internationally. Local residents will know them for the Christmas Carol Wagon. Speaking to members they have some exciting plans for the half-century celebrations.

Whilst in the Library I met with local voluntary sector groups who had stalls including the Alzheimer Society and The Stroke Association