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Question to council: William Marshal

Richard Stainthorp to ask the Lead Councillor for Culture Heritage and Recreation: William Marshal As I am sure the Lead Councillor is awar...

25 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Fibromyalgia Support Group - Anniversary!

On Thursday evening I attended the Reading Fibromyalgia Support Group's 1st anniversary celebration however it was all tea and cakes.

I am not sure how many people are aware of Fibromyalgia.  I am, as I know people who have the condition.  It is a painful and debilitating thing to have.  You have good days and bad days.  You have a range of symptoms that effect your ability to carry out your usual daily activities.  Until last year there was no support group in Reading but now the membership is 100 plus!

The event included a presentation by Dr Antoni CHan MBChB ERCP PhD on Fibromyalgia.  I found it very interesting and gave me a even greater understanding.  I did not know it is considered a disability. I did not know how it was diagnosed or how it is managed.  The group have a very useful information pack put together by Dr Deepak Ravindran.  You can read the information here and I recommend you do:

Fibromyalgia -All you need to know

There was a question an answer session at the end and I felt I had to ask whether this information was available to employers and trade unions.  Fibromyalgia can lead to time off work or reduced activity so I feel it is vital employers and trade unions understand the condition to prevent distressing sickness
disciplinaries.  I will be sharing the above document with my empoyer and trade union.

The group is run by Alice Gostomski.  They meet at Prospect Park Hospital 7.30pm-9pm and will be meeting on the following dates:

Thursday 18 December 2014
Thursday 22 January 2015
Thirsday 19 February 2015

You can find out further date and information by calling 07789708072 4pm-8pm weekdays or email reading.fibromyalgia@gmail.com.

With my excellent host Neil Stafford

23 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Caring, Chairing and Ceremony

My last three engagements have been of such variety I thought I would tell you about them all in one place.  The role of Deputy Mayor, and Mayor, is very, very varied and the following show you just how different your duties can be.

On Thursday  October I had a 'caring' engagement.  I was asked to attend the Macmillan coffee morning at Emmbrook Court retirement complex.  I had a lovely afternoon talking to residents and hearing all about their complex of flats.  I also got the chance to spend a few pounds in support of Macmillan and joined in (and lost) the tombola and raffle.  I also picked up a few cakes to share with my boys and some bulbs for the garden.

It was lovely listening to residents.  One lady I talked to worked at Wilson School which is where I went to primary school!

On Tuesday  14 October I took the day off work to take part in the ceremonial opening of the courts.  This was the 'ceremony'engagement.  I wore the full robes of the Deputy Mayor of Reading and, with the mace being carried before me, lead the mayors from surrounding towns and boroughs into St Marys church for the ceremonial service for the opening of the Crown Court.

This is an ancient tradition and everyone was in their full ceremonial dress.  The judges were be-wigged and be-ribboned, the High Sheriff was proceeded by a ceremonial sword and the choir of Eton College sang Zadok The Priest.  The singing was so beautiful the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  It was an amazing event.

On Tuesday 21 October I attended the AGM of the Reading Association for the Blind.  The Mayor is their president so I took his place and chaired the AGM.  As well as the usual election I over saw the vote on the proposed merger with Berkshire Blind.  I made sure time was taken to hear peoples views on the proposal and that th meeting was run fairly and efficiently (good practise for full council when I'm Mayor!).

I won't share the result as that's not my story to tell but it was a privilege to be part of their AGM.

So there you go.  Being Deputy Mayor is never dull and is filled with variety, interesting stories and a little bit of magic.

9 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries : Caversham Bridge Newspaper 50th Anniversary

This evening event, on 3 October, was my second of the day and was a pleasure to attend. The room was filled with the many people who ensure the publication and delivery of the Caversham Bridge newspaper every month. I was sent a pdf of their 50th anniversary edition which you can see here.  It was a great read.

This newspaper was the brainchild of Canon John Grimwade who wanted to see the various Christian demoninations working together for the good of Caversham and it's residents. 

Many different people contribute to the content which is then edited by a team of 6 editors.  The copy is sent to the typesetters, then Newbury Weekly News who produce the plate and print the edition.

120 distributors make sure subscribers get their monthly 25p newspaper Everyone is a volunteer!

The cake was cut by Jim Pilgrim, who was secretary and treasurer, and with the paper since shortly after it began in 1964. 

Here's to another 50 years! 

Some past editions
Jim Pilgrim cutting the cake!

8 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries : All Nations Christian Centre WW1 Memorial Unveiling

This engagement was a privilige to be asked to attend.  

This is the centenary year of the start of World War One and the All Nations Christian Centre have refurbished their memorial stone.  On 3 October I unveiled the newly restore stone at a small service presided over by Reverend Billy Fenning.  I also laid a wreath of remembrance.

The Exhortation was recited by Mrs Christine Lewendon who is  Branch President of the Tilehurst Royal British Legion - the first woman to ever hold this position!  The Last Post and Reveille were sounded by Don Richardson of the Salvation Army.

This newly restored memorial can now be the focus of November's remembrance services.


7 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries : Ridgeway School Sensory Room Opening

I get asked to attend all sorts of events at all sorts of times and, this one being on a Monday (29 September) at 6.30, and at a school, meant I could take my two children (now called the Deputy Mayorettes) who had been complaining they hadn't been to anything for a while.

I was asked to come and see the opening of the new sensory room at The Ridgeway Primary school.  The room was opened by Tom Homer, who plays for the local rugby team, London Irish. Why a rugby player you may ask?  Well, the sensory room was funded by the Wooden Spoon - the charity of British and Irish Rugby supporting mentally, physically disadvantaged children through capital based projects.  You see, it makes sense now.

Wooden Spoon have been working with schools withing the Whitley Excellence Cluster to deliver various projects, this being one of them.  Sensory rooms can be hugely beneficial to all children, especially those with sensory, physical or communication difficulties and I'm sure it will improve the lives of many.

Deputy Mayorettes joining in
With Tom Homer

Tom and Headteacher Madeleine Cosgrove

6 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries : Reading & Whitley Multicultural Women's Group Open Day

On Saturday 27 September I was invited to the Reading & Whitley Multicultural Woman's Group open day at RISC.  The theme of the event was 'Women Against the Odds'.

Various speakers were asked to talks about women, their role duding WW1n and their role today and in the future.  Speakers were Cllr Meri O'Connell, Dr Jenny Woods, ReadiBus, Lee Evan J.P, organiser Uda Chalk and MP Rob Wilson.

During the event Rob Wilson commented on the Labour group's increasing representation from the various different ethnic groups in Reading, in particular the recent election of Sophia James in Katesgrove.  It was great to have this recognised.

 I spoke about women in WW1 and the challenges we face today and in the future.  You can read the outline of my speech here but, as usual when I am speaking about something I care about, I elaborated and also included:

  • The women machinists at Dagenham Ford who helped bring about the Equalities Act of 1970.
  • The Let Toys Be Toys campaign who are trying to end gender stereotyping with toys.
  • Women facing danger during and after birth - high maternal mortality.
  • Women facing adversity throughout the word such as in Syria.
  • Malala who was shot for wanting an education.
Although we have come a long way, we still have a way to go for true equality.  This is something both men and women need to work together to achieve.

As well as thought provoking talks, we were also entertained by some very talented musicians (see photos below) and the afternoon was well M.C'd by Annette Levy.

The group meet on the last Sunday of the month 4-6 at RISC March to November.  They are always happy to welcome new members.

Caribbean Serenaders were fab
Violinist Endre Adams
Organiser Uda Chalk

5 Oct 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Operatic Society - Oliver!

On 24 September I was very lucky to be invited to the Reading Operatic Society production of Oliver! at the Hexagon.  I am a keen supporter of the arts, but rarely have the time to go out, so this was a real treat.

I have to say I was very impressed.  The production was of a very high standard, from the children to the adults, and the set was amazing.

I particularily liked the little lad who played the Artful Dodger and the scene where Bill Sykes met his end was very dramatic and made me jump!

We are lucky in Reading to have lots of homegrown talent and there were huge amounts of talent on show.  I shall make an effort to go to future productions as this evening was so enjoyable.

A big thank you for the invite!

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Sharad Ustav 2014 & Reading Schools Art Competition

As many of you know I am very supportive of the arts so I was delighted to be asked to present the prizes for the first Reading Schools Art Competition  this afternoon.  It was organised by the Bengali Cultural Society as part of Sharad Ustav, a four day event celebrating harvest festival.

The society was looking to involve the wider community in their celebrations so the Reading Schools Art Competition was devised.

After witnessing some wonderful singing and dancing I presented the following prizes:

Commendation: Autum Butterfly (bottom piece) by  Sonia Siddique, Reading College
3rd: Layered Culture by Saffia Amin, Highdown

2nd: Calcium Tubastraca Angeola Gao, Leighton Park

1st: Upcycle Dress with Free Stitching Maisy Inston, Bulmershe

The prizes were decided by Suzanne Stallard, Jenny Halstead, Ingrid Jensen and Prabhat Basu who are well know in Reading.  It must have been a hard task as the entries were of a very high standard.

Well done to everyone who oragnised this event.

So much fun and dancing!