Wychavon Chairman goes to prison

Wychavon Chairman goes to prison – read the latest blog post from our Chairman

It’s been a busy few weeks which started with a visit to HMP Long Lartin – the category A prison based near Evesham.

After a very meticulous search and having finger prints taken, we were met by an officer and shown around the education rooms and the workshops, particularly the woodwork shop which produces the most fantastic pieces of furniture and garden ware for sale.

At the end of the tour we spent some time with the new lady governor.  I was really looking forward to this visit as John and I had enjoyed a similar tour some years ago when he was Chairman of Wychavon.  Things have changed a lot since the last visit as then we met some of the in-mates but this time the visit was strictly geared to the timing of lessons and mealtime. A most interesting and informative visit.

Sticking with the theme of skills and I was delighted to attend the Worcestershire Skills Show at Sixways Stadium earlier this month. Businesses, employers and organisations were able to demonstrate their services to invited guests and students from most of the county’s  high schools.  It was a very well laid out exhibition and we were able to talk to many people and several businesses.

On Monday 13 March I was proud to raise the Commonwealth Flag at the Civic Centre in Pershore and to give the Commonwealth Affirmation, raising awareness of all that is achieved through commonwealth co-operation, drawing inspiration from our diversity and the opportunities for working together, as a rich source of wisdom and a powerful influence for good in the world.

Me raising the Commonwealth Flag

 

Afterwards we travelled to Hindlip to the headquarters of West Mercia Police to meet the Police & Crime Commissioner John Campion, the Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner Tracy and the Chief Constable Anthony Bangham.

After a short briefing in the Chief Constable’s office we were taken on a very in-depth tour by Tom, who was an absolute fountain of knowledge about the police service.

The highlight of the day has got to be the visit to the dog unit where we were able to see Ivy, now re-assigned to a new police dog handler and doing very well.  There is obviously no petting or fussing allowed of the working dogs but we were given a marvellous demonstration of how the dogs work and how they are rewarded.  We were able to meet and fuss one of the young intake as she was just starting her training – a lovely friendly German Shepherd (pictured below) but we were told that at the end of her training she will become a professional concentrating on what she is trained to do.

We made friends with a 15 plus year old spaniel, now retired from her “sniffer” duties but now living with one of the civilians working in the dog unit.  Most of the dogs are German or Belgian Shepherds, with a few retrievers, spaniels and a very perky Jack Russell all assigned to different types of work – crowd control, chasing criminals, sniffing out drugs and money.

We then visited several other parts of Hindlip, finger-printing, forensics, the main telephone hub where calls from the public are monitored and a brief visit to the gymnasium where an exam was being undertaken.   A very memorable visit  – it certainly raised our awareness of how much we rely on our police force and how much hard work is done behind the scenes to keep our community as crime-free as possible.  There is certainly no complacency from the police as they are very aware they need to keep one step ahead of the criminal and the terrorist.

Evesham’s new fire station was officially opened on Thursday 16 March in the presence of the Chairman of County Council, the Mayor of Evesham, myself and several high ranking officers of the Fire Authority.  A plaque to mark the occasion was unveiled by the Chairman of the Fire Authority, Cllr Derek Prodger.

Cllr Derek Prodger opens the new fire station

After the opening, guests were given a tour of the building and able to speak with serving officers and view the latest equipment before sharing a light lunch.  This facility is a great credit to the co-operation between the fire authority and Wychavon District Council and will be a huge improvement to the former station which served Evesham for many years.

I was honoured to recognise the winners of this year’s Community Recognition Awards during a ceremony at Peopleton Village Hall.

Open to the whole community, the awards give those who have volunteered, coached or helped others in the district a chance to gain well deserved recognition for their efforts in helping to make Wychavon a better place to live and work.

It was a lovely evening and each and everyone of them is a community hero.

The categories and winners in the awards were:

  • Young Volunteer award – this went to Holly Clarke (aged 13) from Droitwich, for the work she does raising money for homeless people.
  • Volunteer award – this went to Pamela Field from Crowle for the many voluntary hours she puts in to setting up the tea rooms and getting people involved at her local parish hall.
  • Arts Recognition award – this went to Dr Sue Ablett from Evesham for all of the hard work she has put in to making the Evesham Festival of words a success.
  • Sporting Hero award – this went to Bradley Smith (pictured) for the time and dedication he puts in to playing and coaching for Pershore Tennis Club.
  • Community Project award – this went to Rooftop Housing for the outstanding efforts they have put into the success of the bowls project for residents in Wychavon.
  • Community Group award – this went to Mr Beestans Gardens in Droitwich for the hard work and dedication volunteers have put in to this garden project for the good of the community.
  • Enabling Healthy Lives award – this went to Richard Morrish from Droitwich for his efforts in helping others feel comfortable and at ease when they attend his local Judo club.
  • Lifetime Achievement award – this went to Sue Collins from Drakes Broughton for her years of time and dedication to the Parish Games and other activities she runs across the Wychavon district.

Bradley Smith winner of the sporting hero award

John and I also recently attended Prince Henry’s High School production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” – a new idea of mixing Shakespeare with the music of Abba thought up by the School’s Head of Drama Maxine Cook.  I couldn’t believe how well this worked, the whole cast were sensational with the audience giving them two  standing ovations.  It was so obvious how hard the cast had worked, learning lines and getting into their characters.

 

Sadly for some of the cast this will be their last production as they move on to their next challenge at university or business, but thankfully there are other talented students ready to take their place in future productions.   Well done Prince Henry’s – you have set a very high standard.

Finally we attended the re-launch last week of The Maltstone Pub & Kitchen at Cutnall Green. Owners Ruby and Gee Gill gave us a tour of the newly refurbished pub which included a function room upstairs.

Ruby (far left) and Gee Gill (far right) with me and two of the chefs

Live music was provided by Blacksmith Hill and we had the opportunity to talk with regulars and other guests and sample the delicious canapes and take a look at the varied menu of wine and spirit selections. The food menu looks good too – I would certainly recommend taking a look, especially now the clocks have changed and we hopefully get some good weather as the pub has a nice outside eating area too.  We wish Ruby and  Gee every success.

 

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