Here are just a few of the events and activities that I have been involved with during November. Please do contact me if you would like any further details about any of these happenings.
Sat 30th Mayor’s Community Christmas Celebration
This evening we attended the first ever Mayor’s Community Christmas Celebration in Oakham Church. It was a wonderful way to ‘start Christmas’ with the inclusion of singing from the Choir of Catmose Primary School , singing from Rutland Choral Society, some entertaining Christmas readings, well-known carols for us all to sing and an address from the Revd Stephen Griffiths. During the evening, funds were raised for the charity Sunflowers which supports young children with additional needs – providing the children and their parents /carers with a weekly opportunity to meet, chat and play together. Afterwards we joined a few from the church for a delightful ‘bubbles and mince pie’ reception – a lovely opportunity to meet others from within our community. Many thanks to David Romney (Mayor of Oakham ) and his partner Di for creating and running such an enjoyable community occasion.
Knight School ceremony
This ceremony took place in Oakham Castle from 7 – 8 pm.. Young people aged 6 – 8 years had attended the Knight School for 6 previous evenings; their programme teaches the children the importance of pride, courtesy and respect. The young knights were dressed in Knights/ladies outfits of a bygone era and were then ‘knighted’ with a sword as they knelt before the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland. The occasion included trumpet fanfares, a few words spoken by each graduating knight on being a ‘kind and respectful person’ and a short speech from the Head Knight. Those watching included parents, carers, brothers & sisters, and others from within the community. This is a great programme for the young and huge thanks must go to all the volunteers who make this happen – they raise funds for the programme (which is free to all children) and then run the weekly evening sessions and ceremony. This is the second programme for this year and others will follow in 2020. Places are limited so please book in early if you wish your child to attend this great programme.
Today Citizens Advice Rutland (CAR) organised a Funding Fair in Oakham Museum. This was a great opportunity for those with funds to share, to meet with those in need. This was a ‘first’ and those with tables at the Funding Fair felt very positive about the experience where they were able to promote their activities and network with a variety of people. It was a pleasure to chat with many of the Funding organisations including The Rutland Trust, Active Rutland, Rutland Lions, The Healthy Rutland Grant Scheme, The Leics and Rutland Community Foundation, The Longhurst group, Power to Change (They work with community businesses to revive local assets, protect the services people rely on , and address local needs. Their endowment comes from the Big Lottery Fund in 2015.) etc.. Well done to CAR on actioning this event which I am sure will be repeated again.
Meeting with Youth Justice Worker (RCC)
This afternoon I met with Laura Ryder (Youth Justice worker, Crime & Prevention and Children and Family Wellbeing Service, LCC). Together with two of her colleagues from LCC, they were able to tell me about some of the ways in which they support young people and families in Rutland, with the focus on crime prevention. Laura works individually or in small groups (according to the needs) with young people to help them to manage challenging situations and to progress successfully with their lives. They highlighted a few projects that they run as required: the Fatal Four project (addressing safety when driving), Crime & Time (looking at the process that can be encountered from crime, through the justice system and into prison) and Impact, which supports offenders. The type and nature of their support varies according to individuals’ needs and the changing needs of our community. Really good to meet such engaged and caring people working within our community.
East Midlands Airport
This afternoon we visited East Midlands airport which is on the Leicestershire/ Derbyshire border. Together with fellow High Sheriffs from these counties we chatted with Karen Smart, Managing Director. She talked about the profile of their passenger travellers, who are predominantly leisure travellers with the busiest time in the summer. Freight transport plays a huge part in their activities being the only 24 hour airport in the UK. Freight transport takes place during the night and certainly in the winter months, means that this is the very busiest part of the 24 hour day. We were fortunate to be taken up the control tower – after passing through many levels of security. From here you can view the runway, planes and the vast collection of warehouses and lorries for Amazaon, DHL, Royal Mail etc etc.. Air traffic controllers sit in front of a range of screens carefully monitoring the incoming and outgoing flights. They are regularly retrained in safety and emergency procedures and have the ability to bring in flights at the rate of one/minute in busy times. Their roles are crucial to aviation safety and it was reassuring to hear about their training, watch them in action and to learn that they are generally totally passionate about aeroplanes.
Rutland Agriculture Society talk by the Butterfly Brothers
This evening we attended a fascinating talk by the Butterfly Brothers on creating wildlife flower areas in small gardens or fields. This was the first of a new season of talks to be presented by the Rutland Agriculture Society. Members and non-members were welcomed. It was delightful to see well over 100 people at this talk, taking an interest in rural matters. The wine and mince pies rounded off a great evening.
Licensing of the Revd Christopher Rattenberry
This afternoon we joined the service in Oakham Church for the Licensing of the Revd Christopher Ratenberry. Christopher has served in the nearby Diocese of Southwell and Nottingham and then interim posts in South Africa and N Yorkshire. He will now serve in the Oakham Team with specific responsibility for the villages of Braunston, Brooke, Hambleton and Egleton. The Bishop of Peterborough, The Rt Revd Donald Allister and The Archdeacon of Oakham, The Ven Gordon Steele were present to conduct the installation, along with the Oakham Team Clergy. In this service, traditional and new features were combined, creating a very special occasion supported by people from within Oakham and parishioners of the four villages. It was a real privilege to be able to welcome Christopher and his wife, Heather, to Rutland .
Aiming High: Youth Chaos in Greetham
This morning I joined the weekly Youth Chaos session run at Greetham Community centre for young people with a range of disabilities. Jo Southwell (from RCC) led the session which enabled the youngsters to socialise together through games and activities. It was good to see that most were engaged in the activities and clearly knew the routines and Jo very well. This is a very valuable weekly meeting that gives social time for the youngsters as well as some ‘free time’ for their parents/carers. Well done to Jo and her colleague who ran the session with great care, thought and good humour.
EndPolioNow, Cycle with Uppingham Rotary
Uppingham Rotary joined Rotary worldwide in a fund-raising cycle to support the charity EndPolioNow. A static bike was placed in The Falcon Hotel and people were asked to cycle for ten minutes with the target of collectively covering 100 miles in ten hours. Both Robert and I enjoyed cycling for 15 min each and adding 7.4 miles to their total. It was a real pleasure to meet Hugh Holden of Uppingham Rotary and Peter Berry from regional Rotary. As we left, they were well ahead of their target , so I am hoping that they hit 100 miles before the 7 pm close. Well done to all involved in running this event to raise funds for such a worthy cause.
Jules House Youth Club
Tonight I visited Jules House Youth Club which runs on a Thursday evening 4.45 – 6.30 pm. Approx 25 students aged 11 – 18 attended this together with support adults Kim Gordon and Sally Redman-Davies. Young people can relax here with others, play cards, listen to music, talk to each other or talk to a listening adult. Sally explained the My Bike scheme whereby old bikes are renovated at HMP Stocken and then she shares them out with children and families in need. In last two years she has given away 360 bikes. Many youngsters are totally thrilled to receive a bike which allows them some freedom to travel and opportunities for exercise etc..
Catmose College Annual Presentation of Awards and Certificates
This evening the efforts and achievements of the Year 11 leavers of 2019 were celebrated alongside their parents, teachers and others from our community. It was a real pleasure to hear of their activities as each student was called up to the stage to receive their certificates and awards. It was clear that in addition to their academic studies, students had many opportunities to engage in a wide range of activities that enhanced their skills and confidence. Afterwards we enjoyed some refreshments and I took the chance to talk with some of the pupils and staff. They were all delightful and excited about their learning and their futures. It was a most uplifting evening. Well done to all who work and study at Catmose College.
Wed 20th Visit by Duke of Gloucester to Rutland
Today we were privileged to host a visit by the Duke of Gloucester to Rutland. He started his visit, in the company of the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, at the Rutland Showground. Myself and David Wood (Chair of Rutland Agriculture Society) met the Duke and then he went on to meet some primary school children who were creating gardens in wheelbarrows for a competition organised by the society. He also met with our First Responders who are training every Year 10 pupil in Rutland in the use of defibrillators and CPR, as well as watching a tag rugby match. The rest of his visit included a tour round the Kings Centre at Barleythorpe, a visit to Oakham Castle, where he saw the horseshoe hanging that he had presented in 1977 on a previous visit. He finished his visit at the 50 year-old Rutland Museum where he was shown selected items and exhibitions, including the exhibition on the creation of Rutland Water over 40 years ago. Many people involved in all these areas of activity were presented to him and the sun shone throughout – so a truly great day that showcased Rutland delightfully. Multum in Parvo.
Visit to Root and Branch Out (RBO) activity
This afternoon I joined pupils from Uppingham C of E Primary School as they enjoyed their Forest School session in woods at Belton-in Rutland. Alex and Claire, from Root and Brach Out help the children to understand, appreciate and enjoy the outdoors. They were able to ‘play freely’ in the woods and enjoy the swings, dens, horses, geese, hammock and in particular the mud! They also learnt about the different leaves, made wood necklaces, listened to stories etc.. These sessions provide the children with great learning opportunities and great outdoor experiences. Many congratulations to Alex and Claire for setting up and running this wonderful organisation. On their website it states: “We engage communities in projects around food and the outdoors, nature and the environment. We work in different community projects offering Forest School, allotment/food growing projects, and a surplus food café. We are working with preschools, schools, adults social care provision and the wider community”. Take a look at their site herefor more information.
Assembly and tour of Whissendine School
Today I visited Whissendine Primary school and met with Mrs Sonia Schofield, headteacher. I was invited to take an assembly, where I explained to the pupils the role of a High Sheriff both in the past and present. The children were really keen to learn about this and asked plenty thoughtful questions. I then had a tour of the school which was most interesting: the pupils were actively engaged in their work, which was mostly literacy based that morning. The new buildings are impressive too, as is the astro-turf style running track that allows pupils to run outside in all weathers. This school has some strong values: Discover, Nurture, Achieve and follows its 6Rs for lifelong learning: Readiness, Respect, Resilience, Resourceful, Responsible, Reflective. The pupils are well-behaved, happy, enquiring and active. Thank you to all for hosting such an interesting and enjoyable visit.
Rutland Night Run
Robert and I signed up, at the last minute to the Rutland Night Run. This is a 10 km run alongside Rutland Water. I felt this was a challenge, ‘outside my comfort zone’ as I have never run this distance before – preferring to cycle or play tennis and squash for exercise ! The route was lit by 2500 solar lights and Normanton church was beautifully floodlit for the occasion. Over 1000 runners took part on Friday and Saturday nights – a really great way to keep Rutland healthy! We managed to complete the course in 1 hr 10 mins – and then enjoyed a relaxing evening at home ! Congratulations to the organisers, The Rutland Marathon for managing such successful events alongside their partners The Matt Hampson Foundation, inspire3tri and Anglia Water.
Annual Leicestershire Police Inter-Cultural Social Evening
This evening members of our community, from different faiths and cultures, and police staff joined together to celebrate our multi-cultural community. The event took place at the Leicestershire Police Headquarters so we were also offered the opportunity to visit their emergency call centre and their dog training centre. We enjoyed an interesting evening – meeting a wide range of people, enjoying a delicious curry supper and taking another visit to the impressive call centre. A great way for those of different cultures and faiths to meet and socialise.
Poppy installation at Casterton College
400 students had hand-made individual ceramic poppies which they planted today around a tree at the front of their college. They look beautiful. I was also able to watch different groups of students entertain one another with dance and singing, to commemorate those who have made sacrifices in wars and conflicts. A real pleasure to be with the staff and pupils at Casterton College at this special time of commemoration.
Active Rutland Community Sports Awards
This evening the Active Rutland awards took place at Greetham Valley. It was wonderful to see a room full of people celebrating achievements in sport and volunteering. The evening began with a welcome from our compere, Rob Persani of Rutland Radio, who then ran a short & amusing quiz about the capacity of various world-wide sports stadiums. The awards were presented by a variety of people – I was delighted to present the Coach of the Year award to Rochelle Holmes. The evening closed with a speech by Cllr Lucy Stephenson, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Leisure Highways and Transport at RCC. This occasion showed how much is really happening in Rutland for people of all ages and sporting interests. I would encourage people to ‘get involved’ in one of these activities or approach RCC if you are interested in starting up a new one.
Oakham School, Lower School
This morning I visited the Lower School of Oakham School. Having taught at Oakham School for 11 years, but leaving over 4 years ago, it was a real treat to return and meet the students and see the physical changes to the buildings. Two children (age 11) showed me around the Lower School site and then took me to the new Social Sciences centre and the medical centre. The new facilities are impressive. At lunch time I met up with the Head of Lower School (Adrian Morris), some of the Housemasters/mistresses and several more students. The students talk with great pride about their school. I was delighted to hear and see their enthusiasm and to also hear that they are very appreciative of their school and opportunities. A great place of learning. Thank you to all for such a warm and friendly welcome.
Monday 11th November Remembrance Service at HMP Stocken
This afternoon, a few army veterans, myself and the Lord Lieutenant gathered at HMP Stocken to join some of the prisoners in a Service of Remembrance. The service was led by the Prison Chaplain , Rev Tim Wright, and about 30 military veteran prisoners attended this first Remembrance service. At tea, afterwards we had plenty time to talk with the prisoners; they appreciated the service and I suspect that it will be held again next year.
Remembrance Service at Ashwell church
This morning we attended a service of Remembrance at Ashwell church. We were joined by a few people from Leicester University. On Armistice Day 1918, Dr Astley Clarke opened a fund for the endowment of a University College for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. To mark this occasion over 100 years ago, personnel from the University have recently been attending services in Rutland. It was a great pleasure to be joined by, the Chair of Council (Gary Dixon) and Dr Turi King (who worked on the DNA evidence for Richard lll) and others from Leicester University. The service was led by Rev Deborah Marsh, whose address encouraged us to focus on living for ‘today’. The music was provided by a concert band from Rutland’s U3A. Afterwards we enjoyed tea and delicious cakes, and a chance to talk with the many local people who had gathered for this great service.
Sun10th Remembrance Services at Uppingham, Oakham and Leicester
The 10 am Remembrance service at Uppingham was a beautiful occasion with some poignant photos displayed throughout on a screen at the transept. Rev Rachel Watts gave a thoughtful address about the importance of remembering and honouring those who sacrificed their lives for us – and definitely not glorifying war. Wreaths were laid at the monument outside the church.
The 2.30 pm Remembrance service in Oakham began with a splendid parade from the market square, along the High street and into the church – there were serving military personnel, as well as air and army cadets and lots of Brownies, Beavers, Guides, Scouts and Rangers. It was great to see so many young people at this very moving occasion. Again, wreaths were placed at the monument on the south side of the church.
At 5.30 pm people of all faiths gathered at Brahama Kumaris in Leicester. Together we remembered those who gave their lives in the two world wars and in more recent conflicts. Leaders from many faiths said prayers, poems and shared their stories. After the service we were treated to a lovely Indian vegan meal. The Braham Kumaris World spiritual University (UK) provides opportunities for people from all religious and cultural backgrounds to explore their own spirituality and learn skills of reflection and meditation based on Raja Yoga.
Open meeting for the conservative candidate for the Police and Crime Commissioner
Rupert Matthews the conservative candidate for PCC invited Parish Council members from nearby villages to meet with him in Langham Village Hall. About 30 people attended the meeting and quizzed Rupert on local matters and his plans.
Friday 8th Rotaract Family Support Centre and Comedy Night at the Museum
On every second Thursday morning, Rotaract meet at VAR for parents and carers to chat and often to hear from a speaker. I joined the group today, alongside organisers Caroline Abdul – Rahim and Debbie Sowter. It was a great opportunity for parents to share their experiences and challenges with one another and to help support each other where possible. A speaker from the Family Fund gave a short presentation explaining the criteria for applying for funds for items or activities to enhance young peoples’ lives. A great supportive group.
In the evening a Comedy Group put on an evening of entertainment (Radio style) in Oakham Museum. They were raising funds for Rotaract and managed to raise an amazing £1,900. Congratulations to the writers, performers and organisers.
Visit to Air Cadets, Rutland
From 7 – 9.30 pm every Tuesday and Thursday the Rutland Air cadets meet in Oakham. It was a real pleasure to join them this Thursday evening, when many were practising their marching skills in preparation for the Remembrance service on Sunday. Some cadets were also taking part in a ‘survival’ task, whilst others learnt about the meaning of the badges within the cadet organisation. This is a great organisation that allows young people to develop many life skills (communication, organisation, self-discipline, punctuality, volunteering etc) and some choose to learn to fly aircraft. These squadrons can only run with the hard work and dedication of their volunteer staff – a special thanks to them all, especially their CO Jackie Lawrence who has been with the cadets for over 30 years. I look forward to seeing the cadets in Oakham on Saturday as they collect funds for the Royal British Legion and then on Sunday as they join the parade through Oakham.
Visit to Knight School , Oakham
This evening I called in to see the Knight school where the children (aged 6 – 8 years) were on their 4th, out of 6 training sessions, to become a Knight. They were learning courtesy, good manners and respect ………….they even enjoyed eating waitress served bowls of soup to practice these skills. It’s great to see these young people keen to learn. Many thanks to the volunteers who patiently and enthusiastically run each session and to the parents who regularly bring their children to the sessions. I am looking forward to the knighting ceremony in the Castle on Thursday 28thNovember.
Visit to St Mary & St John Church of England Voluntary Aided Primary School in North Luffenham
Today I enjoyed a great visit to this Primary School in North Luffenham. I spoke with all the children in assembly about the role of a High Sheriff and the responsibilities that we all carry, often shown by our ‘uniform’. The children had some fabulous questions and were eager to ask many and tell me about their own connections with ‘law and order’. I was then taken on a tour of the school by three enthusiastic Year 6 pupils. They talked readily about their school, showing great pride in it and respect for the other pupils in the classes that we visited. In every class pupils were busy and engaged and very happy to talk with me about their work. The school had a very happy and purposeful atmosphere and when I asked one of my guides what his favourite thing was about the school, he simply replied “ Everything” ! Thanks you to Mr Steve Flowers, Deputy Head , for hosting my visit and well done to all the staff who create this lovely school.
Visit to East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU)
Today, together with several other High Sheriffs, we visited EMSOU in Nottinghamshire.EMSOU is one of the largest collaborative units in the country, delivering specialist capabilities on behalf of the five East Midlands police forces (Derbyshire, Leicestershire &Rutland, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire). We met with the Head of EMSOU, DCS Dave Kirby and several of his colleagues. The work conducted here is fascinating, detailed and very challenging. We learnt about some of their activities and processes by meeting different staff in their areas of specialism. Their work focuses on intelligence gathering and the disruption and investigation of serious and organised criminals. Services include covert tactics, digital forensics, and criminal finance and asset recovery in support of investigations into people, drugs and firearms trafficking, cyber crime, fraud and money laundering. Additionally they coordinate the region’s response to modern slavery and human trafficking, and ‘county lines’. A really informative visit that gave us insight into this area of policing that is so vital, if we are to work towards a safe society.
Meeting at Jules House
I very much enjoyed meeting Suzanne White who explained the activities and services offered by staff at Jules House. They provide much needed activities for young people, as well as a wide range of services to support children, young people and their parents. These services are clearly needed in Rutland and it is very heartening to hear that many people are using these services and making real progress as a result.
Visit to Peppers
This was my first visit to Peppers at their recently acquired new premises on the corner of the High Street and Mill Street. It was great to see so many members relaxing in a familiar place and taking part in sociable activities such as making bundles of Xmas cards to sell, painting, doing the crossword and chatting. This really is a ‘safe place’ and they have great ambitions to expand the facilities offered and to help to remove the current stigma that surrounds those with challenging mental health.
High Sheriff of Leicestershire, Legal Service
Today we enjoyed the Legal Service for Leicestershire. Prior to the service, we enjoyed a very sociable lunch at the home of Tim Hercock, High Sheriff of Leicestershire. This was a great opportunity to meet those involved in the judiciary, those working in our Police services and other High Sheriffs. The service in Leicester cathedral included some beautiful singing from the cathedral choir and Leicester University Voices, together with a thought-provoking address from the Bishop of Birmingham. Leicester cathedral is a stunning venue with much to admire within – certainly worth a visit.
Friday 1stNov. 100 Years of Women in Law Dinner
This evening MALA (Midlands Asian Lawyers Assoc.) and LLS (Leicestershire Law Society) hosted a dinner to celebrate the first 100 Years of Women in Law. This fascinating occasion was led by the two energetic Presidents, Ms Glynis Wright (LLS) and District Judge Afzal OBE (MALA). During the evening we heard some very informative and thought-provoking speeches from both Presidents and from their two key note speakers. Lady Justice Macur DBE spoke of the many progressive and successful women in law over the past 100 years , whilst Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb DBE (the first Asian woman to serve as a High Court Judge in UK) challenged women to continue to progress the equality and to plan their personal progress, looking at their individual USP. During the evening we also watched a short video on Women in Law over the last century. The Empire in Leicester is a beautiful venue and it was a real privilege to be there with so many hard-working and inspirational people. It was an additional bonus to meet up with two young people who I had taught Maths to at secondary school (Sophie and Ollie Cornish).