Citizenship Award Ceremony

Wednesday morning and it was to be my last ever Citizenship Award Ceremony being held at the Council Chambers Freeth Street,Oldbury to celebrate this very special occasion when we welcome our new citizens who will be taking the Oath of Allegiance.

The room was filled with family, friends and lots of young children all waiting to share this very important step which is always a joy to see. I know that some of the people here today have had to wait a long time to realise their dreams, and would be anxious that this day had come at last.

It is always my pleasure to help them celebrate after the official part of the proceedings, and have photographs taken with them and their families.

My sincerest thanks to The Registry Office staff who made my job go so smoothly, and to Lance the Photographer and his lovely wife for their patience and for everyone’s kindness and for their care l will miss you all.

Artic Convoy Medal Presentation at Age Concern Beeches Road

Tuesday lunchtime and l had been invited to Age UK Day Centre , Beeches Road, West Bromwich to take part in a long overdue presentation, to Mr Joseph Jones who had served in the war and at long last would be recognised with a Medal, and it was only February of this year that veterans of the bitter convoys to Russia were finally able to apply for the Arctic Star medals.

When l arrived it was wonderful to see The Royal British Legion waiting to Present Arms and take me through to be introduced to Mr Jones. It really was an honour to be introduced to this amazing gentleman who was 90 years young and had a wicked sense of humour.  The room was full with friends of Age Concern who were here today to help celebrate this special occasion, and we were also surrounded by photographers from various newspapers and The BBC who were going to cover the story and put it on TV later that day.

There were many people who were involved in getting Joseph his medal and at last he was to be acknowledged for the great service he and his friends had endured during the horrific dangerous and freezing conditions they endured, with more than 3000 sailors losing their lives during the convoy missions. As a member of crew on the M-class destroyer HMS Matchless he was involved in the famous Battle of the North Cape on Boxing Day 1943, when German battleship Scharnhorst was sunk as it attempted to intercept a convoy, and Joseph recalled the events of the night vividly.

Former Royal Navy seaman Joseph was born in Old Hill, and now lives in Rowley Regis and  his son Graham was with him today to help celebrate his very special day, and it would be my most sincerest humble honour to present his Arctic Star Medal, which had taken 20 years to have this dream realised. I know Graham was so proud of his dad and Joseph never ever thought that he would see this day.

It was wonderful to be a part of this very moving occasion and my thanks to everyone involved in today’s celebrations l would’nt have missed it for the world .

Opening the Gym Kit at Redhouse Park , Great Barr

Tuesday morning and at last l was able to celebrate the opening of the New Gym Kit which had been erected at Redhouse Park, Hill Lane, Great Barr. It was long overdue with the weather curtailing attempts some time previously, but today although it was grey and miserable the sun was shining in our hearts.

I was met by members of The Friends Group and their Chair, a very old friend Bill Gunn who explained how long it had taken and the equipment looked absolutely great. It was so pleasing to know that it was well used by adults and young people who used it constantly, and that one lady comes each morning before going to work to take advantage of the facilities she has my greatest respect.

Andy Troman’s from Sandwells Countryside and Parks was here to guide me around and was taking photos of this very important occassion. I was happy to show off my expertise on some of the equipment, but l have decided l definitely need to get more active, and l will own up to not being very fit. It really was a great pleasure to declare the Gym Kit open and after cutting the ribbon l was taken across the park to see the Disc Roundabout which had been paid for by The Friends of Redhouse which had cost approx £3.500.

It is a superb achievement for the friends and it sits in between the slide and other equipment, which was being used by very happy grandparents and their precious granddaughter who were having the time of their lives.

Andy was pleased to inform me that the Council were taking full responsibility for the next 10 years in maintaining and looking after the new facilities, so my sincere thanks to Andy and his colleagues who do a superb job looking after all the parks and countryside in Sandwell, but my sincerest good wishes to Bill and his friends for their tireless commitment and dedication in caring for the park. Thank you.

Annual Council and Mayor Making Ceremony at Stafford

Saturday morning and l had been invited to the Annual Council and Mayor Making Ceremony at Stafford. It was being held at The Gatehouse Theatre, Eastgate Street, Stafford. I had been to a Charity evening two day’s before and l had hoped to see the outgoing Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Brian Cross MBE and his lovely wife Lily to commemorate the ending of their Term of Office, but Brian was still very poorly in hospital.

It is so nice to see how other Boroughs have their Order of Proceedings which is so different to us in Sandwell and on the completion of The Mayor Making the new Mayor Cllr Angela Loughran invited us all to join her for a Civic Service which would be held at The Collegiate Church Of St. Mary Stafford, and we all gathered at the front of the theatre to walk the short distance.

On the conclusion of the Civic Service a Parade took place through the Town Centre and it was followed by a Civic Reception at the County Buildings, Stafford. I must confess that the heavens were waiting to open when we began the Parade it was awful, and so cold l felt so sorry for everyone who had’nt got a brolly. My thanks to George for his forward thinking in providing a very welcome brolly without it, it would have been a very uncomfortable experience.

The Civic Reception was very pleasant and my thanks for allowing me to be present on this very important occasion, l wish the new Mayor and her Consort a wonderful year, and to the Deputy Mayor and her Consort my very best wishes.

My last Charity Evening Karaoke/Disco Night

Friday evening and l was holding my last Mayoral Charity Evening at Charlemont Bowling Club, Charlemont Road, West Bromwich. It was to be a Karaoke/Disco evening and everyone had been invited.

It was so nice to welcome The Mayor and Mayoress of Solihull Ken and Janet and l had my fingers crossed they would be doing a duet or medley of songs at some point. My Deputy Mayor and Mayoress Vic and Carole were also with me and l had my doubts as to whether they would be going on stage to perform something from Les Miserables which would be a joy to listen to.

The evening was made so enjoyable with many people taking part, so my thanks to Cllr Jo Hadley’s two boys they had the most amazing voices we were all bowled over with them, and Jo had a great singing voice so l know where they got their musical know how from. Nikki’s daughter was wonderful and my thanks to Cllr Pete Allen, Cllr Paul Sandars who were fantastic and to the ‘Dancing Girls from The Registry Office ‘ wow what movers l will have to take some lessons before l join them on the dance floor. My apologies if l have missed anyone who l haven’t thanked for helping the party go with a swing l am always in awe, we have so much talent in Sandwell, it never fails to impress me.

I must put on record my humble and sincere thanks to Jo Hadley for her invaluable help together with Rob and Sandra Hevican for the most impressive table filled with food fit for a King, to Charlemont Bowling Club for letting us have the room and to their staff for looking after us and to the best Compere ever, he was sensational, and to everyone who joined me tonight to help raise funds for my two Charities Help For Heroes and Different Strokes with special thanks to Sandra, Pauline, Nikki and Vicky who worked so hard behind the scenes to make this evening so special.

Unveiling of the Pauper Memorial in Tipton Cemetary

Friday morning and l was back in Tipton Cemetery, Alexandra Road, to join with The Friends of Tipton Cemetery, and to meet the Chair Pauleen Hodgetts, The Rev Mike John and Megan Williams SMBC .

There were so many people waiting to share this very special occasion, and we were joined by students and teachers from The Ace Academy to take part, it is always so important that the young people should be aware of our past which is sometimes filled with pain and despair.

The Friends Group had received funding from Fair Share Trust, Sandwell to install a Paupers Memorial in the cemetery. This is dedicated to all those buried in unmarked graves, many of which would have worked in the local Workhouses, and Tipton had two.

It was a very moving occasion with speeches and prayers before the unveiling and it was so sad to know that there was a part of the cemetery that had so many unmarked graves, but we will always be able to remember them and never forget them.

My sincere thanks to Pauleen and The Friends of The Cemetery, and to Brendon Day and his amazing guys who have done so much to keeping the cemetery such a pleasure to visit. I was so pleased to be with you all today to help you celebrate this very special occasion.

The Final Fling with the Mayor of Stafford

Thursday evening and l was on my way to The Moat House, Lower Penkridge Road, Acton Trussell, Staffordshire to join other Dignitaries and guests to ‘The Final Fling’ Dinner for The Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Brian Cross MBE and his lovely wife Lily.

It was to be the last Charity Appeal before Brian and Lily finished their Mayoral year, and it would be so nice to be able to help them celebrate this very special occasion.

Lily greeted me and it was so disappointing to be told that Brian was in hospital quite poorly but Lily was joined by their daughter Sam who was a tower of strength for Lily during the evening. It was so nice to see friends l had met during my last 12 months and to catch up with events and enjoy a very pleasant glass of pop.

The evening went by so quickly and it was good to know that peoples generosity in donating to the raffle is always impressive and that the monies would be going to The Mayor’s chosen charities Katharine House Hospice and Oak Tree Farm Rural Project.

My sincere thanks to Brian and Lily for inviting me to share this very special evening and l send my good wishes to Brian for a speedy and full return to good health.

Unveiling of statue at Wesley Chapel West Bromwich

Thursday lunchtime and was to be my pleasure to attend Wesley Methodist Church, 291 High Street, West Bromwich to help with the unveiling of Cross in Hand Sculpture. ( re-sited from Duchess Parade)

I was met by Alan Goodman Senior Planner SMBC and Rev Phillip Thomas, Wesley Church and introduced to various members and officials of the Methodist Church and managers of Fitzgerald’s Contractors who re-sited the sculpture. It was also very pleasing to see so many people who had taken time out to be with us to help us celebrate this very special occasion.

The weather had turned cold and very windy but there were a couple of very able bodied men who clung on to the veil which surrounded the statue and after a prayer and speeches l was ready together with The Rev Philip Thomas to declare the official unveiling.

The Sculpture was originally unveiled in1989 at the end of Duchess Parade. It was removed from site at start of 2013 as part of the repaving and improvements to Duchess/Princess Parades. SMBC have had the sculpture restored and the ceremony is to unveil the sculpture on a new specially made plinth in its new location. ( Only 30 m from previous site)

My thanks to everyone involved for all their hard work and dedication it was a very moving occasion and the sculpture is stunning. If you are passing by please stop and spend a little time to admire this wonderful sculpture, it is a wonderful and l know that Sandwell are so pleased to be able to restore and re-site, it is part of Sandwell’s commitment to the Regeneration of West Bromwich.

Can l thank the members of Wesley Methodist Church for the very welcome cuppa l was so grateful to recieve aftre the ceremony, it was very welcome.

Visit to The Big House for Edna and Vera Age UK

Thursday morning it was to be my pleasure to welcome Edna and Vera to The Big House, Freeth Street, Oldbury where they would be given a tour around our fabulous building, which l always take such great delight in showing it off.

I had been introduced to Vera last week and she was very emotional, never having spoken to a Mayor before so l had to make sure she was given very special attention and to know that even Mayor’s are in awe of lovely ladies even if they maybe over 80 years young. Edna l had known for many years and she is an inspiration with all the voluntary work she does for the community.

It was a very pleasant and relaxing few hours and George my Sergeant At Arms was happy explaining how the Regalia and Chains were obtained. Vera was overwhelmed when she had her photograph taken wearing my Chains, and will be showing it to her great grandson in a few day’s time. I am always amazed at how quickly the time seems to fly by but it was a pleasure and a privilege to show two lovely ladies around our Big House. Thank you both for making me happy.

West Bromwich Harriers/Black Country Running Fit

Wednesday evening and l was looking forward to visiting the Q3 Academy, Wilderness Lane, Great Barr to meet my old friends Gaynor and Dave McCarthy to help them launch of beginners running groups for local community fitness.

Steve Jeavons- West Bromwich Harriers Chairman was on hand to introduce me to everyone and show me around this amazing building and it was so nice to see so many people all wanting to keep fit and take part in the many activities that the club have.

Black Country running fit, part of West Bromwich Harriers is a great boost to community fitness, and it was with pride that l declared the beginners groups open and to wish everyone great success in their fitness goals and future races. It was also with regret l was not able to take part in the run, l did’nt want to show anybody up with my speed and agility.

My sincere thanks to everyone who made this evening so successful and for inviting me to help you celebrate and perhaps one day we will all meet again.