December 2019

Here are some of the events and activities that I have been involved with during December ………

Air Cadets Presentation Evening

This evening 2248 (Rutland) Sqn held its Annual Presentation evening . This was a fabulous evening of celebration led by Flt Lt Jackie Lawrence, the Commanding Officer, who summarised the activities of the cadets in a speech illustrated with photos.  The cadets were inspected by AVM Gary Waterfall CBE Squadron President, who then presented awards to cadets for their various achievements and promotions. Speeches were also given by AVM Gary Waterfall CBE and the Squadron Chairman Air Cmdr (Rtd) Andrew Griffin. Both complemented the cadets on their great achievements and the high quality of their appearance and marching drill. As a ‘first, the cadets finished the evening with a very entertaining ‘skit’ about the history of flying. It was a most heartening evening and a real delight to see all the cadets (aged 14 – 20 years) working  together. They develop skills of self-discipline, communication, respect, as well as learning first-aid and taking part in weekend and longer adventure trips. These young people are a great advertisement for the air cadets. The evening finished with some mulled wine and mince pies and a chance to talk with the cadets and their rightly proud parents/guardians. Avery memorable evening.

Catmose College Christmas Concert at Oakham Church

This evening the pupils of Catmose College and Harington school performed their annual Christmas Concert in Oakham Church. It was a magnificent evening with carols, singing by various groups and choirs, readings by pupils and some great musical pieces by a range of orchestral groups. The evening really showcased some great talents by the students, and it was delightful to see them working together with students from years 7 – 13 supporting one another. I really enjoyed this concert which seemed to demonstrate the real cohesiveness of these two school communities. Well done to all students, staff and parents at both Catmose and Harington. 

Wed 18th My Bike scheme sharing their bicycles at Cottesmore school

This afternoon I returned to Kendrew Barracks where Rutland County Council’s  My Bike project was sharing bicycles with youngsters from Cottesmore Academy. The scheme takes discarded or unwanted bikes to HMP Stocken where the prisoners renovate them. Today over 100 bicycles were brought to the playground at this primary school; pupils and their families then came to select a bike. It was wonderful to see so many happy smiling face as bicycles were tested in the playground and then cycled home by very happy cyclists. A great way to ensure that bicycles are re-used and a way for prisoners to learn new skills as part of their rehabilitation programmes. 

Boxing Event at Kendrew Barracks

This evening I was a guest of Lt Col Jim Edwards (Commanding Officer) at Kendrew Barracks at the 7 Regiment Inter squadron Boxing Championship. Having never before watched live Boxing, this was an intriguing event.  Inside a large hangar, we sat on beautifully comfortable chairs around the boxing ring. There were ten fights (each consisting of three rounds, each of two minutes). The boxers were supported by their colleagues who were cheerfully vociferous in their support for their squadron. These boxers had taken up boxing just 12 weeks before, and had trained intensively for this championship. This was the first time in the ring for many. Their bravery and determination were clear to see.  The evening finished back in the Officers’ Mess with a curry and chat – I believe that it was a very late night for the boxers and their colleagues as this was the last night before their Xmas break. Well done to all those brave boxers!

Opening of Berrywood (Quiet Room) at Edith Weston Primary School

With assistance from Resilient Rutland (kindly financed) by Mrs Worthington) a quiet room has been established in this Primary School. The room has been carefully decorated so that it feels like a room at home with sofas, cushions, bean bags and books. It provides a comfortable place for young children and/or parents to talk with staff as and when required. There are staff in place with ELSA training (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants)  to help support those in this school community. Today the room was officially opened by Mrs Worthington (whose grandchildren had happily attended this school in the past), together with the Headmistress and a few of the pupils. It was great to hear these pupils explain the purpose of the room and to demonstrate their appreciation that some children experience challenging times.

 Loughborough University Winter Graduations

Today I attended two sets of Graduations for both undergraduates and post-graduates at Loughborough University. AS at the summer graduations, the speeches from the Chancellor, Lord Seb Coe and the Vice Chancellor, Prof Robert Allison, were inspiring and uplifting. At lunch, it was a delight to sit next to a young graduate from Mumbai, who had been invited to join the meal by the Vice Chancellor as none of his family could attend the graduation and so the gathered guests were his family that day! He was full of praise for the time that he had spent at the University studying Engineering. Once again, this University showed itself to be in the top ten on a number of ‘measures’ including the employment of its graduates. Thanks to all staff who were very welcoming hosts. 

Junior Park Run

I joined the Junior Park Run today since Santa hats and mince pies were on the agenda. It was a delight to see many enthusiastic young (aged 4 – 14 years of age) runners out there and a real pleasure for me to present awards to those who have clocked up various special numbers of runs. I always enjoy joining this run, as its length allows me to talk with others throughout! Well done to the volunteer organisers for making this event happen every week. 

Rotary Rutland Santa Run

This morning saw about 60 Santas gather for only the second Rutland Santa Run , organised by Rutland Rotary at the Rutland Show ground in Oakham.  They were well prepared with gazebo, music, mulled wine and mince pies. Sadly due to the recent wet weather, the ground was extremely soggy and made the running very hard work for us all!!  Nonetheless young and not-so-young completed several circuits of the course and then enjoyed the refreshments. Well done to Rutland Rotary on organising this run and let’s hope for better weather next year. 

Brooke Priory School Carol Concert

At 11am I joined Brooke Priory School for their Carol Service in Oakham School Chapel. It was a beautiful service with some delightful singing and music, performed by the pupils. Every child in Year 6 read part of the readings which was a really great achievement and quite daunting for some to read to such a big audience. Congratulations to Brooke Priory on creating such a special Carol Service. 

Fri 13th.  Rutland Radio 21 years

Today Rutland Radio celebrated its 21st birthday. The station started broadcasting with presenter Rob Persani on 13th Dec 1998. Rob has continued presenting a programme on the Radio since then and is regularly seen around the County reporting on a huge variety of events. He is probably one of the most well-known and well-informed people about Rutland!  The Lord -lieutenant and I decided to make a surprise visit to the station to thank Rob (and his team) for their magnificent work in keeping the people of Rutland entertained and informed.. It was a real treat to surprise him by arriving into his studio with his wife and very young daughter, just before he read out the weather forecast. We presented him with a birthday cake and silver Rutland horseshoe, before enjoying tea and cake together at 9 am. The cake was absolutely delicious – a triumphant creation by the Castle Cottage café team. Congratulations to Rob and the team at Rutland Radio on 21 great years.

Election count at Melton Mowbray

This evening I attended the General Election count for the Rutland and Melton Mowbray constituency, that took place in a school sports hall in Melton Mowbray. Generally High Sheriffs can act as Returning Officers and read out the election results; however for this to happen, the entire constituency must lie in the High Sheriff’s County. As this is not the case here, I was able to attend as a guest of the Returning Officer but not read out the results. It was an interesting evening as the votes were gathered in, then verified and finally counted. The task is undertaken by some regular counters as well as newly trained ones. Results were declared at around 4.15 pm with the Conservative Party retaining their seat with a 62% share of the votes. The new MP is Alicia Kearns, who takes over from Sir Alan Duncan who has been the MP here for the last 27 years. Congratulations to all who organised the smooth running of this count with admirable speed.

Catmose College School Council

Today I visited Catmose College and met with their Headmaster and School Council with approximately 5 representatives from each year group. I talked to them about the role of High Sheriffs and the activities and focus that I have taken during my year. After a brief Q&A session, I was taken on a tour of the college. My two student guides were very positive about the college – they enthused about the quality of teaching, the actual buildings and the extra curriculum activities. In particular they talked about their great experiences on overseas trips to Africa. A delight to meet so many positive and proactive young people. 

VAR Annual Meeting

This afternoon VAR held its annual AGM and Christmas party. Carsten Pigott, Chairman spoke about the achievements and challenges for VAR.  Awards were presented to those who have been particularly outstanding volunteers; it was really heartening to hear about the consistent hard work of many of the volunteers. VAR runs an invaluable transport service for residents in Rutland with volunteer drivers. Additionally, on site they have over 50 different organisations that regularly use their facilities as well as more than 10 ‘resident’ organisations.  They support those in need in many other ways too. This organisation employs just a few people and relies on the input from many many volunteers. 

Mock Trials at Leicester University

This morning we joined first year students studying Criminology at Leicester University, for a mock trial. Together with two local magistrates, the students acted out a case presented to a Magistrates court, using a script. At the end of the hearing, students had to decide on the verdict – guilty or not. Thereafter the magistrate explained the range of ‘sentences’ available and the points to consider in determining it. A really great way for students to see a Magistrates court ‘in action’ and to understand the reasoning behind the process and decisions

Chief Constable’s Carol Service at Leicester Cathedral

This evening we joined a packed Leicester cathedral for the annual joint Police and Fire Services Carol Service. It was a beautiful occasion with many traditional carols and the nine lessons, being complemented by singing from a school choir and the cathedral choir.  The evening finished with mince pies and a chance for me to chat with my Police cadet, Bradie Smith, who attended the service along with other Police and Fire cadets, A great occasion to celebrate the Christmas season and also to thank all those brave people who work so hard in our Services during the year to keep us safe. Many of course will also be working over the Christmas and New Year days, so this can be an additionally challenging time for them. 

HMP Stocken Carol Service

This afternoon we joined about 60 prisoners for a Carol Service in their chapel. It was an uplifting service and good to see the prisoners take part in the readings and music playing for the carols. Afterwards we enjoyed tea and mince pies and a chance to talk with some of the prisoners. Encouragingly, many have found that their involvement with the church has helped them to re -focus their lives.

Visit to the Lodge Trust, Market Overton

Today we visited the Lodge Trust, which sits in a country park in Market Overton and provides accommodation for up to 30 adults with learning disabilities. Details of their Christian provision can be seen here. We were shown around the site by Ramsey Pigott, the Chief Executive there since earlier this year. This 20 acre site provides educational, work  and recreational facilities for the residents and some visitors. Activities such as gardening, woodwork, sewing, cookery and work in the café ensure that the residents are kept purposefully busy and employed. On site there is a wonderful café , open to the public, that provides excellent refreshments and craft goods for sale – I purchased a beautiful Christmas wreath.  It is clear that a great deal of thought is put into creating a productive and enjoyable environment for the residents. I really recommend a visit to the café. 

Global Carol Service at Leicester cathedral

This evening I attended the Rutland NSPCC Carol Concert in Oakham Church. This splendid occasion has been run by the Rutland NSPCC committee, led by Margaret Wheeeler for the past 13 years. The concert was compered  by Caroline Aston and included singing from Rowell Camerata choir, music from the Foresters Brass band and some entertaining readings/talks from a variety of well-known characters including the Revd Richard Coles, Nigel Colborn, Anne Davies and Tim Hart. This event raises huge funds for the incredibly worthwhile charity NSPCC and simultaneously provides a very enjoyable evening for a packed Oakham church. Many congratulations to the NSPCC Committee who work so hard to make this happen and to all those who contributed to the evening. 

Breakfast Club at the Grainstore, Oakham

On the first Saturday of every month, the veterans of Rutland are invited to attend the Breakfast Club at the Grainstore pub, by Oakham station. It was a real pleasure to meet a number of veterans from the RAF, Navy and military police – all happy to share their very interesting stories. It is a great chance for them to meet with one another, share stories and perhaps collectively taken on some community roles. The latter point was raised by some of the veterans so hopefully they can collate ideas and make progress there.

Gala Reception at Langham church

The 6th bi annual Langham Christmas Tree festival opened this evening with the Christmas trees on display in the church from a wide variety of groups and individuals. During the evening we enjoyed mince pies and mulled wine, before being entertained by the amusing songs from Jackie and some singing from a small choir from Catmose College. The festival continues over the weekend with craft stalls, workshops and refreshments in the church and village hall. I wish them well with this lovely village festival, as many work so hard to raise funds for the upkeep of their beautiful church. 

Rutland Signpost networks 

This second Signpost meeting was held at the Volunteer centre of Rutland Water Nature reserve , just outside Hambleton. About 30 people gathered from RCC and other interested charitable parties. Rutland Water Reserve explained the sessions that they currently run for elderly people. The leader encouraged people to think of ways to improve the community through small volunteer acts eg having a social table once a week in a selected café, having a social bench. 

Dinner with Gp Captain Jo Lincoln and Mr Paul Lincoln

Tonight we enjoyed a dinner with Group Captain Jo Lincoln at her home at RAF Wittering. She was joined by her husband Paul, who is Director General of the Border Force. The meal was specially prepared by RAF chefs, who had previously put in bids for the menu to Jo. It was delicious and very imaginative with a ‘local produce’ theme. The photo shows the starter which was modelled on a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ ! It was a great time to have a good informal chat with our hosts and a few other RAF personnel.

NSPCC Carol Concert in Oakham Church

This evening I attended the Rutland NSPCC Carol Concert in Oakham Church. This splendid occasion has been run by the Rutland NSPCC committee, led by Margaret Wheeeler for the past 13 years. The concert was compered  by Caroline Aston and included singing from Rowell Camerata choir, music from the Foresters Brass band and some entertaining readings/talks from a variety of well-known characters including the Revd Richard Coles, Nigel Colborn, Anne Davies and Tim Hart. This event raises huge funds for the incredibly worthwhile charity NSPCC and simultaneously provides a very enjoyable evening for a packed Oakham church. Many congratulations to the NSPCC Committee who work so hard to make this happen and to all those who contributed to the evening. 

Leics and Rutland Young Farmers Club, Public Speaking competition 

Today I went to Brooksby College to take part as a judge in the Leicestershire and Rutland Young Farmers Club  (YFC) competition. Members from ages 14 – 26 took part in a variety of competitions including debating, public speaking, interviewing for a job etc. Together with a previous YFC member, I judged the YFC Member of the Year (18 years and over) competition. Entrants had to demonstrate their active involvement with the YFC movement at club and county level, and to show their commitment to, and understanding of its issues and challenges. There were eight entrants and every one demonstrated these attributes well. High levels of commitment, hard work, engagement with YFC, thought towards others in the club, determination to overcome difficulties, ability to ‘have a go’ and learn new skills were seen in abundance. I congratulate all participants and wish the winners well as they proceed to the Regional level of the competition.  It is really worth looking into your local club if you are aged 10 – 26 and have any interest in our countryside. They take part in a wide range of activities, lots of competitions, and build skills useful for any job – all the while having fun and also raising funds for charity.