Mayor Rabbi Alan Plancey looked after me very kindly during my day out in Hertsmere and drove us to all our appointments, making sure that we kept to time!
We started the day by meeting acting Chief Executive of the Borough Sajida Bijle and Inspector Mark Bilsdon of the Safer Neighbourhood police team. The police station is in the same building as the Civic offices and Mayor Plancey is a regular visitor, both in his role as Mayor and also in his role as a Police Chaplain.
We went on to watch a rehearsal at Momentum Performing Arts Academy in Bushey which offers a Three Year Musical Theatre Diploma Course as well as a Dance Teaching Qualification at Level 4 through the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. This was induction week for the new students and we were able to watch a short rehearsal of a song from Les Miserables – already looking good enough for the West End! Artistic Director Ben Darmanin is interested in getting involved in community projects
Next to Elstree Film Studios where we had a fascinating tour of this famous location where so many great films and TV series are made. We were shown around by Joely Hertz, Marketing and Events Executive, who took us to the set of the new series of The Crown, where we saw the false frontages of Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. We stood on the dancefloor in the huge studio where Strictly is filmed, and visited the workshops, costume makers and the prosthetic workshops, where incredibly life-like bodies are made for medical student training as well as for the film industry.
After lunch at the studios our next stop was at Teresa’s Parish Hall where John and Sheila Carlisle and volunteers from Gratitude make lunch each week from left-over food donated by supermarkets. They also run a food bank, and lots of other events for the elderly or vulnerable in the community, combining reducing food waste with helping those in need – all done with love and gratitude. I was overwhelmed by the gifts they had made for me – preserves and beautiful paper flowers and a wonderful display of food art including a little rose plant made out of carrots and other vegetables!
Finally, on to Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys School where we had a tour of both the Junior and Senior schools with charming pupils, before meeting the Head and Bursar to hear about plans for the school.
Everywhere we went we met people Mayor Plancey knew (or sometimes their children or relatives), who all greeted him warmly and with great respect. What a contribution he has made over the last 45 years to the community in Borehamwood and especially to the Jewish community. We had a lovely day together.