My highlights in March included a number of enjoyable school visits to meet pupils and to try and explain democracy, the role of the Mayoralty and to foster a sense of civic pride. These included St Aidan’s, Ashville, Belmont Grosvenor, Kirkby Overblow, Cundall Manor and Queen Ethelburga’s schools. We really do have great education in our district!
Whilst they mercilessly picked on me, having positioned me on the front row, I really enjoyed a fun filled and extremely humorous performance of the pantomime, Cinderella, at Rossett Acre Primary School.
Further school events in March included a swimming gala at the Hydro, a splendid school debate competition with 12 schools participating, the excellent Young Enterprise Scheme competition that continues to promote a spirit of enterprise, so necessary for the future economic success of our country, and a Children’s Enterprise charity event at St Mark’s Church in Harrogate, where the children learnt the art of selling and benefitted both their charities and themselves.
The Mayoress and I attended a fine Harrogate Music Centre Gala Concert, a great joint concert of St Aidan’s Junior and Symphonic Bands with the Band of the Royal Air Force College at Cranwell, and Harrogate Brigantes Rotary Club produced a compelling Kids Aloud concert, all at the Royal Hall in Harrogate.
It was great meeting a 16 year old pupil of Harrogate Grammar School, Ellen Young, who is a fine example of youth at its best in our borough. For her work with setting up a food bank and with charities, including Doctors without Borders/MSF, and setting up a Harrogate District Climbing Team, I presented her with a Soroptimist International Young Women in the Community Award 2016/17.
I gave a civic welcome to a party of young French students from Luchon, our twinned spa town in the French Pyrenees. Their exchange visit culminated in a marvellous musical evening at St John Fisher High School. We look forward to the Mayor of Luchon, Louis Ferre, who, with his colleagues, will visit Harrogate at the end of April.
Sporting highlights in the month included attending Harrogate Town at the CNG Stadium, my first ever match there, and a taekwondo grading presentation in conjunction with Master Ali. Both super occasions.
We attended a packed out piano recital by the winner of the 2015 Leeds International Piano Competition, Anna Tsybuleva, as part of the concert programme of the Cathedral Concert Society in Ripon. What a fabulous player and charming musician she is too!
Charity events included our attendance at the AGMs of the Harrogate Lifeboat Guild and the local MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease) Association, plus visits to Claro Enterprises in Starbeck, Henshaws College and a Dementia Forward event. I recorded an article too for the Talking Newspaper organisation and visited Brackenley Care Home, a wonderful caring place.
Matters relating to the local economy included shop openings and events at Furnish & Fettle, Bespoke Eyewear, All Bar One, Cordings and a fascinating tour of the world class and iconic Bettys and Taylors. A visit to RHS Harlow Carr demonstrated how important they are to the economy of the borough, too. I also opened a new and novel “peer lending” retail shop, Folk2Folk, in the centre of Harrogate.
After a Tea and Talk with our good friends from Menwith Hill, the month finished with another Tea and Talk with a number of Syrian refugees and other asylum seekers in our area, as part of the Harrogate District of Sanctuary. The Mayoress and I were humbled by their stories of the devastation war has caused in their own land.
With the Mayor’s Magical Spring Ball only days away now we will be, sadly, on the home straight to the end of my term as Mayor.