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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...

28 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Nominations for the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Yesterday, 27 March 2015, I attended the Berkshire College of Agriculture for a ceremony to present two British Empire Medals and twelve certificates celebrating nominations to the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service which is the MBE for voluntary groups.

Mr James Puxley, Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, arranged the ceremony and two Reading groups where awarded.  They were East Reading Horticultural Therapy & Community Based Training Ltd - known as the Ridgeline Trust and Parenting Special Children.

It was a wonderful event and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to Reading's two recipients and I sincerely hope they are selected to receive the award.
Parenting Special Children receiving their certificate

The Ridgeline Trust receiving their certificate from the Lord Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire
The 12 certificates.  Also nominated were Alzheimers Dementia Support, Bracknell Foodbank, Children 1st West Berkshire, Early Adopt-a-Street Initiative, Jealott's Hill Community Landshare, Link Visiting Scheme, Open Kitchen, Slough Special Voices. The Herschel Park Volunteers and West Berkshire Cruse Bereavement Care

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Oxfam and the Henley Business School Certificate Presentation

As Alumna of the Year for the University of Reading I do try and attend as many events at the University as I can.  This engagement was on Tuesday 24 March.

Students of the Henley Business School, led by Dr Daniel Gozman, had been working with local Oxfam shops.  They had been using the skills they are learning to see if Oxfam could or should improve these three areas:

Customer loyalty:  should there be a customer loyalty scheme?  How would it work?  How would customers be rewarded?

E-commerce: How can the stores improve listing on the Oxfam web store?  What equipment would be needed?  How much space would be required and how should items be selected?

Crowd funding: How is this done? How can prizes be gathered?  What types of events should ther be?

The three groups of students made presentations to Oxfam, Jim Odell from Kemp Little Consulting, Jannah Patchay and independent consultant and Alex Furneaux from Capgemini.  They were then asked questions about their proposals before the studies were handed over to Oxfam.

You can read more about the event here:


22 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: West Forest Sinfonia

This is a tricky one to write about.  First I shall give you the facts.  The West Forest Sinfonia give concerts of professional quality with musicians drawn from across Berkshire.  Today's conductor was Philip Ellis and we had a wonderful piano performance from the very talented Georgina Sutton.  It was held in the Geat Hall of the University of Reading which was a stunning setting.

The pieces played were:

Beethoven - Egmont Overture
Mozart - Piano concerto K in D Minor
Faure - Pelleas et Melisande
Schubert - Symphony No.5

The reason it's tricky to write about is because music means different things to everybody.  I found the concert enchanting.  I have enjoyed classical music since I was little, being introduced to it through the famous ballets and Fantasia.  I have expanded my collection over the years but I don't find myself listening to it very much.

I love classical music but I find it very distracting so having it on in the background usually ends in me stopping doing whatever it was I was trying to do.  I love the rhythm and the 'rules' and find my brain connects to the music.  I find it very relaxing and I imagine the ballet moves that could accompany the piece I am listening to.  This meant this concert was very enjoyable.

The conductor and musicians were also fascinating to watch.  I can't recommend attending a live concert enough.  It really is a very different experience to listening to a CD.

Sadly my relaxed mood didn't last long because when I got home the boys had turned the front room into a pig sty! 

21 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Ugadi Celebrations

Happy Ugadi!  Today is the new year for a few parts of central and southern India and I was invited along to join in the celebrations.

One of the things I love about Reading is the sheer number of different cultures we have. It's adds to the richness of life in the town.  Today I had the chance to meet members of the Telugu Association of Reading and Around (TARA) and I received a very warm welcome.

I was treated to some very tasty food, excellent singing and dancing and great company.  While I was there Mr Srinivasa Alluri was given a special recognition award for his work with Manavata and 3H - Healthy (food leads to), Happy (people and a more) & Harmonious (community).

TARA runs a lot of events throughout the year to educate children about their Telugu heritage which is rich in art, music, dance, language, poetry and family.  I do hope they are part of the Year of Culture in 2016.

A big thank you to everyone who made me feel so welcome and the organisers of this wonderful event.

17 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Primary School's Music Festival

What a truly wonderful evening tonight was.  400 children from 17 Reading schools took part in a celebration of music and dance.  It was the 70th anniversary of the Reading Primary School's Music Festival (RPSMF) and the event was called 'Thank you for the music'.

It was a joy from beginning to end.  The voices of 400 children made a wonderful sound and it was great to see the songs signed by some children from The Avenue too.  There were also dances and solos performed by some very talented children.  We were also treated to a performance of 'Let it go' by Anne Fairbrother.

The following poem was written by Mya Darji who also read it out this evening:

A celebration of music

The celebration of music has evolved over many years,
It all started with the Medieval cheers.
This century brought us Rock 'n' Roll and Elvis,
Girls dropped to his knees watching his pelvis.

The beatles gave us a 60's vibe,
And the Bee gees kept disco Staying Alive.
In the 80's Pet Shop Boys about West End Girls,
And Prince wanted to shower them with diamonds and Pearls.

The 90's brought us Brit Pop.
With the Spice Girls, Blur and Take That,
But in the Noughties, Robbie sadly left and they went splat.
And in the Teenies, we saw their revival,
But that shows sharing good music
Is a fight for survival.

The schools who took part were: Caversham Park, Caversham Primary, Churchend, Emmer Green, E.P. Collier, Garland Junior, Hemdean House, Katesgrove, Manor, Meadow Park, Moorlands, Oxford Road, Park Lane, Redlands, St Annes, The Avenue and The Hil.

I was sad to hear this may have been the last of these events due to the difficulty getting volunteers.  I sincerely hope they can keep going and make it to their century!

8 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Alternative Queen of Reading

This was the second event I attended on Friday 6 March.  I was delighted to be asked to judge the Alternative Queen of Reading.  I saw myself as a Darcey rather than a Craig although as one point I was nearly booed - whoops!

The Alternative queen is a celebration of all things female. Today is International Women's Day which is another day to celebrate all women have achieved but also to focus on the work we still have to do to achieve fairness and equality for women all around the globe.

There were six acts.

Penelope Porchette who shared her confessions of a serial dieter 'Under tall not overweight'.

Gog who was very funny and shared a song about the British habit of queuing - unless you're in a pub.

Nichole shared a poem about her life then a song called In The Garden which were both very moving.

Cassie Magnolia sang and danced about.

Alex Reindorp was the lady of the house.

Miss Pearl La Peach did a very glittery (and brave) burlesque act.

You can read more about them here.  The winnner was Gog and the runner up Cassie Magnolia.

It was a wonderful evening with many ukuleles and much laughter and fun all compered by Baroness Maria Von Hackemann.

Photo thanks to Richard McKenzie

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Women's World Day of Prayer

On Friday 6 March I attended two very different  events to celebrate women.  The first was the Women's World Day of Prayer at Abbey Baptist Church. This was an event that was taking place across the world and this year the service had been written by Christian women of the Bahamas and the theme was:

Jesus said to them: what have I done to you?

It was an very interesting service.  I am not a Christian but it gave me food for thought and many of the lessons were universal.

The women of the Bahamas had highlighted six concerns they had for the islands and during the service each was addressed and a wish given.  They were:

Poverty - Blessed
Domestic Violence - Blameless
Migrants - Accepted
Teenage Mothers - Included
HIV & Aids - Never Alone
Breast Cancer - Cured

We were also asked to write down a word or phrase demonstrating how we could express radical love. This is what I wrote because truly listening is very different to hearing:

It was a multi denominational, global event which made the day even more special.

6 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Theatretrain - Perform It! Playathon

What an lovely way to spend a Sunday evening!  On Sunday 1 March I was invited to watch Theatretrain Reading's Perform It! Playathon.  It was an intriguing title and I was really looking forward to it.

I have a bit of a performing arts background and took ballet classes well into my late 20's.  I was also a ballet teacher until I had my eldest son.  I remember too well the nerves and excitement when waiting to go on stage.  The heat of the stage lighting and, in my case, the mild terror that accompanied a performance.

The young people who performed last Sunday hid this all very well.  I was treated to some wonderful performances.  There was singing, drama and dance but this wasn't any ordinary performance,  it took place as a live director show with instructions being received over the sound system from an unseen director.  The performers had to listen carefully and react to the instruction being given - very impressive!

There were many songs I recognised from popular musicals like Chicago, Les Miserable and Little Shop of Horrors, all sung very well.  The young people and staff involved should all be very proud of their performance.  They even managed to pursuede me to get my jazz hands out.

1 Mar 2015

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Visit from Rudi Delvai - President of World Fair Trade Organisation

If you didn't know, we are half way through Fair Trade Fortnight and Reading, which is a Fair Trade Town, was proud to welcome Rudi Delvai, president of the World Fair Trade Organsiation (WFTO).  I was invited to attend a talk by Mr Dulvai about how Fair Trade organisations are certified.

I have always been interested in Fair Trade and its effect on the people it helps.  It was a very interesting talk where we were told how organisations are certified and how the WFTO ensure they continue to trade fairly once they have entered the scheme.

There was also time for quetions at the end.  I was interested to hear the Scouting movement are very keen to educate their youngsters on Fair Trade and, by using the pester power of children, get parents to consider switching to Fair Trade products.  I have first hand experience on this when last year my eldest bounced out of Beavers and insisted I buy Fair Trade bananas from that point onwards.  Luckily I was able to show him we already to.  Pester power - it works!

There are still lots of events still to take place and you can find out all about them here.

Reading also has a Fair Trade group and their website is here.

One of the audience members made a very good point about paying that bit extra for Fairtrade (although you can find products in places like Lidl and Aldi).  You would usually give 50p or a £1 here and there to charity so why not buy Fair Trade and provide a worker somewhere in the word with a decent wage.

Rudi Delvai, me and David Sutton