Friday, 22 June 2018

From Amber to green and go!

A few months ago, Amber (who is in the upper half of Buckingham Primary School) wrote to me with an idea about having a graffiti wall and competition in the skate park. I was thoroughly charmed that she had the gumption to do this. As the skate park is run by the District Council I replied to her saying that I would refer the matter to the two councillors - Howard Mordue and Robin Stuchbury - for that area. And of course I praised her muchly for taking the initiative. It took a while (and a bit of chasing from me), but yesterday as I was walking towards the art exhibition in the school, I heard a young girl say "that's Jon Harvey!" (I was wearing my chain which probably helped.) I went over to her and it was Amber in person, proudly gripping a copy of the letter she had just received from Cllr Angela Macpherson. She kindly gave it to me and here is a copy below...

So well done Amber for showing you are never too young to have ideas about how to improve our town! I said to her that perhaps she might like to become a councillor when she is bit older and she said yes. Watch this space!

And thanks to Howard for forwarding my email to Angela. And thanks to Angela for replying in such a lovely way to Amber.

It all warms my political cockles to see such active engagement in all directions! Well done again Amber!

I have redacted Amber's address and Angela's signature of course. And I do have permission from Amber and her parents to talk about this.

And the winner is...

Last night, I was thrilled to be invited to the Young Enterprise regional final where nine teams of young business people competed for a place in the national final in a couple of weeks time. What an amazing array of talent, energy and creativity was on display. I managed to get some photos of all the teams and their work (I hope). And the eventual overall winner was...

So very well done to all the young people: truly exceptional work. And well done to the business mentors who support them, their teachers who work with them and all the organisers, sponsors and judges who keep it all glued together. Sadly neither of our two schools were in the regional final - hopefully next year... Buckingham School... Royal Latin School...??

Here are some pics of the event, with the overall winners are shown first. (Although, let's be very clear - they were all winners last night!)

Impact - producing books of recipes from local chefs in Reading area.

Think - a profit for purpose organisation engaged in tackling drugs

Zest - fairy tales for a new age

Misquoted - on trend challenging t-shirts

Out of the woods - upcycling old pieces of wood into great products

C.E.R.T.I. - books to empower and inspire young people

Corner Clips - protecting books from wear and tear (sorry cannot find a link)

Buzz - greeting cards that turn into wild flowers and help bees! (I loved this one!)

Card Dog - stainless steel card to stop your credit cards being skimmed and money stolen

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Tapping into the imagination of children

I have just been to visit the exhibition of art at Buckingham Primary School as part of Art Week that is underway. What a beautiful and inspiring set of pieces the children (and some of the teachers) have produced. I will let the art speak for itself...

Art in action! While I was there, there were a dozen or so children doing some more art. I love this. This is imagination in action. The teachers and children of the Buckingham School are increasing the Imagination Quotient (the ImQ) of the town!

My favourite piece!

And here is Clare that helped the children mount this exhibition. Brilliant stuff!! 

Lace Hill Residents Association won

Despite the clash with the first England game of the World Cup, the LHRA AGM was well attended in the Lace Hill Sports and Community Centre on Monday evening. There was lots of good debate about the roads (especially the long promised second access road), the play areas, the streetlighting and so forth. The group is run by a large committee of locals who are dedicated to making sure the developers of the estate finish it off as they should - and that the estate becomes all that it should be! If you live on the estate and you have not made contact with the residents association, I highly recommend that you do. They are a great and committed bunch of people!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Something for everyone!

While the literary festival was underway, another one occupied the town as well: a festival for skateboarders and scooterists (is that the right word?) organised by the Buckingham Activity Group. The Police and Town Council were out in numbers to encourage youngsters to practice their skills and watch the professionals who had been hired to attend. I was only present at the start and I wish I could have stayed longer. Great stuff!!

The Literary Festival

The Festival has now been and gone. I was invited to open the event with Frederick Forsyth being interviewed for the very first session. It was an honour to meet him and hear about his life and how everything began with his first novel the amazing "The Day of the Jackal". Julie and I sampled several more sessions including ones with Ben Okri (beautiful and sublime poetry and art fusion), Tom Bower (challenging views on Prince Charles), Chris Patten (elegant, funny and tragic review of politics over several decades), and Edward Stourton (enlightening insights into the BBC during WW2). 

And we attended the 'Author Party' on Saturday evening and were delighted to meet some more of contributors. If I had the time, I would have sat in on all the sessions! We are so lucky to have this feast of literature once a year.

Here is the speech I gave to open up the proceedings:
I would like to welcome you all to this glorious, illustrious and thrilling Literary Festival. This festival, along with a myriad of other University and Town events, initiatives, groups and organisations, is boosting what I have come the call the Imagination Quotient - the ImQ - of our wonderful town. Today we celebrate the priceless value of imagination and ideas. As Mayor of Buckingham, I chose ambition to be the theme of my first term. In this my second term, my theme is imagination without which there can be no dreams or ambitions. As it was famously said by Einstein (and I am grateful to the High Sheriff for reminding me of this quote recently):
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
So over the course of this weekend, we honour the authors who share their imagination with us. Perhaps so that we can exercise ours and the ImQ of Buckingham goes even higher!
I will end by welcoming the great Frederick Forsyth who honours us by being our first speaker. If I may, here is one of his quotes. For me, I interpret ‘wings’ to mean ‘dreams & ambitions’:
“The thing about wings that they are yours and yours alone. You cannot inherit them from an indulgent father; you cannot buy them in Savile Row; you cannot win them in a lucky draw; you cannot marry them along with a pretty girl; you cannot steal them on a shoplifting spree. You cannot even earn them in a team event. You fight and you struggle, you study and you learn, you practice and you persevere, and finally you do it alone, high above the clouds, in a single-seater.” (from ‘The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue’ by Frederick Forsyth, of course)
May we all fly in our own single-seaters, high above the clouds, over the next few days, lifted by our imagination and powered by our hopes for a world in which everyone can achieve their dreams and ambitions.
Here is Frederick Forsyth being interviewed for the first session

And here is Ben Okri conducting his 'poetry choir' with nine women from the audience reading out the poem 'And still I rise' by Maya Angelou

Thank you again for invitation to open the Festival. It was an honour! 

Choirs galore!

The Higher Education Festival also included a short choir festival on the intervening evening last Wednesday. It was a joy to be there and listen to the Buckingham Children's Choir, the Glee Club Choir, the MK Performing Arts Choir (sorry - I don't have a link...) and The Rock Choir. They were all brilliant (and I really should have photographed and recorded all of them!). There are great pics in the Buckingham Advertiser this week of all the choirs. But if you would like to hear the Rock Choir sing, I uploaded this short video to YouTube:

I also recorded them too on my phone. You can listen to it here.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Another Festival

Buckingham has been full of festivals this week. I had the greatest of pleasures to partake in some of the sessions of the HE Festival - attended by some very 'big beasts' (such as David Willetts, Andrew Adonis and Sam Gyimah - the current Higher Education Minister). There was a liberal sprinkling of vice chancellors from a wide range of universities and more education journalists than you could shake a stick at. My brain hurt with all the ideas and concepts being discussed. I looking forward to next year's events.

Thanks to the University for organising all this. Here are some pics - can you guess who is who?

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Enterprising Buckingham #2

It's one of those mornings when I wake up early and my head won't let me go to back to sleep. This morning it is because I have been thinking about next year's Enterprise Festival (#EntFest) and what role the Town could play in that. Professor Nigel Adams (Head of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham) has said that he is hopeful that it will happen here again. So (hoping it does too...) I just think that the event provides a golden opportunity to showcase and support entrepreneurial talent in the Town too. Do you fancy getting involved...?

So if we want to make it a whole town festival, what could happen? Here are a few ideas that I have invented in my head this morning - some or none of which could become a reality... How about:
  • B-Cubed - Buckingham Business Backstage! (Local businesses, large or small, to have open days to show local people the beating hearts of their enterprises. What actually happens in Wipac? What do all the inks in BCQ smell like? How big and cold is the warehouse in Tesco? Etc!)
  • Young Enterprise Breakfast/Tea (a chance for the school students of the RLS and Buckingham School to meet and network with local entrepreneurs and small business owners to find out about the ups and downs of running your own business)
  • New and young trader of the year award (The Buckingham Society already award the Trader, Favourite Eating Place and Market Trader of the Year at the Christmas switch on. Let's keep that but how about a summer award for best new business established in the last 18 months, and/or maybe one for a new business where the owner is under 30...? Perhaps another award for most enterprising local charity?)
  • #LoveBuckingham / #ShopLocal day (Perhaps with special discounts on the day from the local retailers?)
  • BB2B Trade Show (A while ago there was an idea to bring together local small enterprises to see how they could do business together. I think I recall Ian Redding of Buckingham Ford offering to make his showroom available for such an event... Might something like this be possible?)

I am sure there would be many more ideas that would complement the festival that is now hopefully part of the University calendar. And none of the above might fly either - I am well aware of that! I am just trying to provoke action... (And they don't all have to happen on the same day but thereabouts perhaps)

One thing I do know is that any of this will only happen if some of the leaders of local enterprise step forward to make this happen. Could that be you? Would you be willing to be part of a small coordinating committee to nurture some Town #EntFest ideas into reality? I (and I hope the Town Council) would support this. But it will only happen if local business people make it happen?

As was being talked about yesterday by the Vice Chancellor and Peter Jones - could Buckingham become known the 'Glastonbury' of enterprise? Would you like to be part of that dream...? 

If you would, please email me ( and I will help people connect...

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Enterprising Buckingham!

Yesterday, the University hosted (for the first time ever outside of London) the Enterprise Festival - #EntFest. It is described as:
a unique celebration of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Brought to you by the Peter Jones Foundation for Enterprise and hosted by the University of Buckingham, this free one-day festival will bring students, young entrepreneurs, business founders, leaders and investors together to network, learn and champion enterprise in all its forms.
And what an occasion it was: a heady mix of young and experienced entrepreneurs! Ideas, business cards, laughter and praise were liberally shared around. It was a delight to be part of this and, especially listen to the four finalists make their pitches, Dragon's Den style, to win the prize of £5000 and (as added on the day by the Vice Chancellor) a scholarship to attend the University's unique Business Enterprise degree. And as it turned out - there were two winners! One was a chap from Huddersfield who has developed a business around providing dynamic screens to local takeways. And the other was a young man from Dudley who has developed a virtual reality programme that helps people feel more confident before job interviews. Both great business ideas and worthy winners!

Here are some pics to give you a flavour of the day... (and it might be returning next year, fingers crossed!). First the chap from Huddersfield

And the co-winner from Dudley

Showing some of the fun as well

The church was filled to the edges with young people, school and college students, their teachers and families of all those involved plus the entrepreneurs as well.

The stalls in Church Street - I bought some bookmarks from some schoolchildren.

Fascinating discussion about where failure/feedback fits into the experience of being an entrepreneur. Peter Jones on the left of course, next the chap behind The Cinnamon Club, the compere, woman who set up an organic food company long before it became fashionable, she said, the man who set up King of Shaves (which I happen to use) and a lovely bloke from Glasgow who business involves lasers and quantum mechanics (eek!) He told me a great story about how it was a brilliant Physics teacher who inspired him to set up his business. (Sorry I don't have all their names)

And Peter Jones, of course, almost as tall as the Church spire!

And the amazing cake made by Party Bakes too! (Thanks to Alistair Lomax for the pic)

My last post on this blog

Last night I handed on the Buckingham Town Mayor's chain of office to my very worthy successor, Cllr Mark Cole. This marks the end of my...