Interview with the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Al Garthwaite, visiting our school


Dne 4. prosince měla naše škola speciální návštěvu. Navštívily nás totiž hned dvě významné osoby: popularizátor vědy Michael Londesborough a paní primátorka města Leeds Al Garthwaite. Po velmi zajímavé přednášce pana Michaela Londesborougha na téma: “Tajemství energie a energetika budoucnosti”, která byla určena pro studenty vyššího gymnázia (kvinta–oktáva) a která byla zpestřena mnoha fyzikálními a chemickými pokusy, měli někteří studenti rovněž možnost se zeptat paní primátorky na nejrůznější dotazy. Řešili jsme velmi zajímavá témata, týkající se pracovního i osobního života paní primátorky. Jen se přesvědčte sami.
pozn. autorů: rozhovor necháváme v původním, tedy anglickém znění).

Did you enjoy the show?
I enjoyed it very much and I learned a lot, but as I said, I am not a scientist, so everything that would make science accessible would be good…

So what did you enjoy the most of the show?
I think, when I was stirring the water, I felt like one of the witches.
Holding it up was a great feeling, but also I think I understood more about molecules and how they work, particularly with your explanation of the chalk cliffs of Dover.
I was also particularly interested in the biofuels from the waste because it reminded me of the place Cornwall, in the UK where it used to have a big house with a big garden and some of the plants, for example, pineapples and things like that which needed a lot of heat(they were in the greenhouse), so they took all the waste from the house, from the people and put it by the greenhouse and a boy of about 12 was employed to sleep right by it and he had to get up every couple of hours and stir it around so that it would keep burning and keep producing heat so the tropical fruit would grow.
I mean this was a long time ago, 200 years ago, but it reminded me of what we were saying.

So, it was one event that you participated in during your visit to Brno, what are the other ones?
So this morning I was planting a tree in a beautiful park, which was really good to do. Of course, the more trees we can have the better to capture the carbon pollution and everything you were saying.  We’ve also been to the CEITEC laboratory and found out about any groundbreaking globally useful research and I have also had the opportunity to go to the Christmas markets and some of the churches and see something in this beautiful city.

And what did you enjoy the most about it?
I think they are all interesting in different ways and I am looking forward to meeting with the Mayor. I have already met the deputy mayor. I am going to the Romea Museum this afternoon too.

Are there any other places in the Czech Republic that you want to visit?
Yes, I would like to come back with my daughter. I am already planning to come back, perhaps in June, and visit the caves. That sounds really, really good

We have found out that you also have a Children's Mayor in Leeds. What is his function about?
The children's mayor is usually in the last year of primary school so they will be 10 years old. Lots of children put their names forward, they get shortlisted and then one is voted on and chosen. The children's Mayor visits people in different communities, particularly children's events, and represents the city as an ambassador as a child. He also has to present his ideas in the manifesto about what he wants to achieve during the year and so on. The current children’s mayor, Mohammed, has said what used to make a difference to combat climate change and that by taking various measures within schools and education, which I think is a great mission to have. And another thing I have is that I  have several councillors, that are some young people as well.

When we searched your image on Google, we saw that you were wearing a robe, was it comfortable?
They are wonderful this time of year. They are really, really warm. But in the summer when it is hot it is like being in my own private sauna.

We found out that you worked in prison. Is it true, and if it is, what was it like?
Yes, a long time ago, I taught a man in a prison in Leeds English. It was a very good experience as a  teacher because some prisoners spend all their time in cells, and being able to come to the education room and learn something is hard for them. Still, they are all motivated and keen on learning new things, so when they leave the prison they have more skills. It was also difficult for me because they were all (12+I) in a very small room with very different levels of English from just about being able to read right up to those who were taking their first exam.

Why did you decide to become a mayor?
I thought that having been a counselor for many years that I could use my skills and experience from everything I have done, to give something back to the city of Leeds, to go out and about and be an ambassador for the city of Leeds which I love, it’s a wonderful city. And also, to create some sort of legacy as well. I just think it would be very interesting to meet people all over Leeds to give them a welcome.

What plans do you have for the future as the Lord Mayor?
As a Lord Mayor, I want to complete the legacy. Another of my plans is twinning with the city of Kharkiv in Ukraine. So in the summer, I traveled to Ukraine, not with the chain, just in a personal capacity. I joined a convoy in a parliamentary group and met with the Mayor of Kharkiv there. In two days I should be signing a friendship both with the Deputy Mayor of Kharkiv when I am in Prague as well. We also have many Ukrainian refugees in Leeds and I’ve been to the centre and met some of them and we want to show solidarity and stand together in the face of what they are experiencing at the moment.

Is there some place that you love in your city?
Yes, I love all our parks. My small local park didn’t look so good before but I have been involved with the group, the friends group there for the last 25 years, and changed it from a place that was almost derelict to a really good small community park for everybody and then some of our larger parks as well. Going there and being among the trees makes me feel very happy. I also love my room, I should be sorry to leave it, I’ve put all the gifts that I have been given, I’ve put them around the room with the art and so on. It feels so home to me.

How big is the impact you have on the city? Is there something you can't even change?
At the moment we are quite as other councils, all the cities and towns in the UK. We don’t have as much money as we would like. So some things that we would really love to do to improve everyone’s quality of life, whatever it is, are not possible just now but I am sure they will be in the future. I would like to be twinned with more countries, eg. more cities in more countries throughout Europe and indeed the world because I think that lies more friendship, understanding, cooperation, and projects between schools, exchanges, and young people. We will understand each other and cooperate more. We have more chances of finding peace and putting an end to wars, that’s a mission that I would like to see.

Word to the end:
Well, I’d just like to say that I really enjoyed coming to the city of Brno and coming to the school Gymnasium Šlapanice and answering the questions.

Nicolas Čejka and Vlastimil Adam, with thanks for the interview.