Treasure the old, welcome the new

Speaker's Corner columnists -  Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/opinion, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph - peterboroughtoday.co.uk/opinion, @peterboroughtel on Twitter, Facebook.com/peterboroughtoday
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Mayor of Peterborough Chris Ash:

With all the gloom and doom in national and internal politics it’s good to be able to pick up on the better things happening around the city. But despite the good news that the lads stuck in the cave in Thailand were all out safely we should not forget that one rescuer lost his life.

Life is too short to wallow in and be dragged down by all the world’s problems. A little respite looking on the bright side might help us pull through troubled times, so best not dwell for too long on who the Prime Minister will be in a few weeks’ time.

So I thought what I’d like to do once again in my meanderings is take you through some of the recent highlight of visits I’ve made as Mayor with the Mayoress.

It was a pleasure to be asked to join the Bourges twinning group for a buffet-lunch and welcome the folk from Bourges to Peterborough – I did not ask if they thought it might be a France – England final.

Like many twinning groups here it is all self-funded with barely any input from the council. It would be good if we had been able to give a more formal event, but I do hope an informal greeting went someway to showing a civic welcome.

We also played host to some Taiwanese students - a visit organised by Queen Katharine Academy.

Having them as our guests was most delightful and we had a beautiful off the cuff rendition of a couple of short Chinese songs.

We were guests of the Lithuanian community at their anthem ceremony when groups of Lithuanians across the world sing their national anthem at the same time. We were also entertained with some folk dancing.

Sunday was a hot day to wander round in suit and tie. I felt overdressed at the Portuguese community’s festival. Groups came from as far as London and Somerset and they were all magnificent hosts.

A Portuguese motorcycle group also came up. I was tempted by the offer to ride a bike but, truth to tell it’s been decades since I was last on a bike and a bit reticent. Maybe sometimes we should let ourselves go a little.

Talking to them showed that camaraderie in motorbike groups is international and like local groups here they do much good work supporting charities. It’s always gratifying to know that many people quietly beaver away to assist others.

That day we did two other events both aiming to bring together communities. One was a street party by All Saints’ Church - a small hospitable gathering. I do very much hope that the event grows year on year, spreading out the community spirit and hand of friendship evident on Sunday.

The other was a church event in the ward I represent, Dogsthorpe. Most of you know I am not a church goer but this was a pleasant friendly service to welcome Anita Gordon (Neat to friends) the Methodist pioneer worker on the Welland.

Many on Welland will already have met Neat. The seemingly belated welcome was to recognise her formal commissioning to the post. I will also take the opportunity here to give her a warm welcome and I know the work she does is very much appreciated.

It was wonderful to see members from community groups in the area and other churches there also to welcome Neat.

I mention all these things because for me they show community cohesion and harmony in action across our city.

We should value our respective traditions and celebrate diversity - treasure the old and welcome the new.