On Monday 10th March, Commonwealth Day, the County Council joined with other local authorities across the country in a short ceremony to raise the Commonwealth Flag.
With the UK hosting the Commonwealth Games in July there will be an opportunity for everyone, right across the Commonwealth, to celebrate what it means to be a part of this unique international family. In Leicestershire we are proud of our multi-cultural heritage, and this event provided an opportunity to demonstrate that pride.
This year also marks the centenary of the start of the First World War and seventy years since D-Day. And so we remembered the service men and women from the Commonwealth who did so much for our country during the war years. We must all remember that contribution with gratitude.
The Zimbabwe Choir and the children of The Hall Primary School sang for us once the flag had been hoisted, bringing our ceremony to a wonderful conclusion.
Ring those bells!
On 13th March I joined the Mayor of Charnwood on a visit to Taylor’s Bell Foundry in Loughborough. Taylor Bell Foundry is one of the largest bell foundries in the world and has cast many famous bells including in 1881 the largest bell in Britain, “The Great Paul” for St Pauls Cathedral in London.
After a fascinating tour of the museum which told the story of the Bell Foundry, going right back to its links with bell founding in the 13th Century, and a tour of the works itself, we witnessed an actual bell casting. Isn’t it great that we have such an historic, and iconic, business in our county.
Visit www.taylorbells.co.uk to learn more.
On 20th March I hosted an evening on behalf of the Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation, which included the launch of the new ‘Women and Philanthropy’ project. This network of prominent women in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, combines their support for local needs. This is philanthropy rather than fundraising, providing a strategic development of the quality of local life. It enables clearer prediction of donations and impact. Each year 12 charitable organisations will be shortlisted and verified by the Community Foundation. For every £2 given, the Foundation will match with £1 of Government money – giving local philanthropy giving a real boost.
Mayor’s Charity Concert
The concert was given by the acclaimed Loughborough based soprano Maria Veretenina, a well-known soprano in Estonia who has performed in Finland, Sweden, Russia, Italy, as well as in the UK. Maria was accompanied on the piano by Eleonora Babitskaya, who was a regular performer with the Soviet State Philharmonic.
This was a most enjoyable evening which will ultimately benefit the mayor’s charities: the Alzheimer’s Society and John Storer House. More details of the Mayor’s charities can be found at: http://www.charnwood.gov.uk/pages/currentcharityappeal
Beaumanor History Fair
This amazing event was organised by the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society and hosted by Beaumanor Hall. I joined hundreds of people at this fair to learn more about ‘Wartime Leicestershire’ through the many stalls staffed by local historical societies and from the expert speakers.
Displays, stalls and mini-talks followed the theme of ‘Wartime Leicestershire’ from the Roman Invasion to the present day, and including Roman interactive displays, Richard III, The Wars of the Roses, the Civil War, the Napoleonic Wars, and of course both World Wars. Some displays reflected on World War I in its centenary year, whilst Beaumanor as a World War II secret listening ‘Y’ Station celebrated with the demonstration of a genuine Enigma Machine. I attended a presentation given by Richard Buckley and an air raid experience in the basement of Beaumanor (a part of the house I have never visited before!).
Sport Relief 2014
On 23rd March I joined over 300 people who put on their running trainers to raise money for good causes by taking part in the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile in Market Harborough.
After a mass warm up led by ex-professional boxer Kelton Mckenzie, participants ran one, three, or six miles to raise money. The final total raised by all of the runners will not be known for several weeks but it is hoped it will be an increase on the £7,500 raised from the previous event in 2012.
Paralympian Sam Ruddock, who represented Great Britain in the Paralympics in London 2012, got the Sport Relief mile underway.Over 30 Sport Relief volunteers and marshals helped to coordinate the event and make it such a success. I welcomed the runners to the event and took part in the fun warm up sessions (well, I couldn’t run with my chain of office on, could I!). It was a fantastic event and great to see so many people taking part and raising money for good causes. Well done everyone!
Here I am at the start with Sam and the enthusiastic runners.