W / C Monday 18th April

Not a very busy week, quite a relief after the last one. The first engagement was on the Tuesday and we represented the Borough in Birmingham at the installation of the new Sheriff of West Midlands, Mr David Grove OBE. Onn the following day,  we attended the Smiths’ Wood Family Celebration Day, organised by SWANN (Smiths Wood Are Neighbourhood Network). This was a very worthwhile event, dedicated to improving neighbourhood engagement, to help make sure that the Regeneration programme actually delivers what people want. There were some fun activities for the community and for children, but also some very informative displays by fire officers, park rangers, the Royal Navy recruitment team, youth service police and several of our officer advice teams.
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Opening of the Therapy Garden at Solihull Hospital
This project started about ten months ago, when Senior Nurse Rachel undertook the task of trying to improve an under-utilised patch of land outside the Stroke Ward, for a garden to help those who had suffered a stroke become rehabilitated. Maybe a bench or two. Maybe. Ten months later, over £30,000 has been raised and there is a therapy garden that combines colour, beautiful planting, water feature, artistic timber work in spectacular fashion.

Whilst we were at the hospital, the Mayoress and I spent a lot of time talking to those that had suffered and the improvement that was visible, after appropriate treatment, was very marked.  After a stroke, victims lose the loss of many of their bodily faculties, depending upon how quickly after the stroke they are reached and treated. The setting of this garden will be vital in the rehabilitation process, but will also be a helpful place for relatives and friends to spend a few moments, when visiting, which can be a very traumatic time for them also. Everyone we spoke to said how wonderful the staff are. During our visit, we also became acquainted with another charity “Pets as Therapy”. Obvious really, I suppose.
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Good Friday – the Walk of Witness
Across the country, on this day, people take part in this act of worship, following the cross, in an act of witness to their faith. This was the turn of the Mayoress and me; after a hymn and prayers outside St Alphege, we walked to Mell Square, in brilliant sunshine, for more hymns, a dance display and prayers, then went back to St Alphege, retiring to the Oliver Bird Hall for coffee and a hot cross bun. I am afraid my thoughts were not just on faith but on the course of life today, as we walked past open shops, shoppers and a roundabout. Someone said to me that, whatever one’s belief in spiritual matters, it is concerning that for so many the new god is a material one, the need to buy to feel better, and the cult of self.
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St George’s celebration in Dudley Town Centre
We went for a couple of hours during the morning to support one of our nearby Mayor’s civic events; a very traditional celebration, in many ways, but one that was very rich in culture and history as well. The town hall was open for viewing, where there was a large number of historical displays. I was interested in a map, marking (with red spots) the places in Dudley that were involved with the glass making industry in the nineteenth century. Well over one hundred. The celebration was officially opened by the Mayor of Dudley, there were the usual patriotic songs and music led by Maggie O’Hara, followed by a day long programme of events, including marching bands, Sherwood legends, Morris dancing, and George and the Dragon. Dudley does have some fine buildings and heritage.  Dudley Castle stands over the town and you can actually see it from the Mayor’s seat in the Council Chamber, if a committee room door is left open.
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Easter at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens
A beautiful sunny day to pay a visit. The volunteers all do a sterling job in maintaining and improving this marvellous piece of heritage. The flowers in the Lady Bridgeman Garden were looking pretty and the apple tree orchard was in blossom, with many historic varieties of my favourite fruit.
 However, judging Easter bonnets is bound to be always a tough call for the Mayoress and me, but the beautiful setting of Castle Hall Gardens in the sunshine all helped to make this a really charming event. . Many people had obviously spent a lot of time making some really pretty bonnets and hats.
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