GLOUCESTER City Council leader Paul James turned 40 this month. To mark the occasion, he has picked out his own Gloucester Top 40 – the things he is most proud of in his home city.
1. The Cathedral – our finest and most famous building.
2. The Docks – its renaissance in recent years has given it a new lease of life.
3. Gloucester Rugby – if it wasn’t for the Cherry and Whites, what would we talk about?
4. Blackfriars Priory – the best example of a Dominican priory
in this country. A real hidden gem.
5. Alan Myatt – our own larger than life character.
6. Gloucester Quays – not the finished article yet, but has helped put Gloucester on the map.
7. Our diversity – Gloucester’s diverse population is a real, but sometimes unsung, strength.
8. Community spirit – it came to the fore during the 2007 floods, but has always been there.
9. Our size – We’re a big enough city to be noticed, but small enough to be intimate.
10. Colonel Massey – led our troops during the Civil War and changed the course of England’s history.
11. Our independent shops – especially in and around Westgate Street, like Stanman’s Kitchen.
12. The Tailor of Gloucester – our own Christmas story.
13. Gloucester Park – A much more pleasant place than it used to be. Nowhere better in the sunshine.
14. Longlevens – My home and the area I represent, so I’m biased!
15. Jemmy Wood – Gloucester’s legendary miser and the inspiration for Dickens’ Scrooge.
16. Our schools – I’ve got a particularly soft spot for my old school, The Crypt, in Podsmead.
17. Our museums – the City, Folk, Waterways and Soldiers’ Museums.
18. Robert Raikes – the Sunday school founder, the statue and the pub.
19. Robinswood Hill – an under-appreciated asset for the city, but starting to get the recognition it deserves.
20. GL1 Leisure Centre – it’s great to have a leisure centre in the heart of the city.
21. Our parks – as well as Gloucester Park, Plock Court and Hillfield Gardens are my favourites.
22. The Tall Ships Festival – our signature event for the city.
23. Our events – like the Food Festival, Carnival, History Festival and SportBeat, to name but a few.
24. Our history – from the Romans to the present day, Gloucester has a fascinating story to tell.
25. The Citizen – keeping us informed for nearly 300 years.
26. Mark Cummings’ Breakfast Show on Radio Gloucestershire – a soothing voice to start the day with.
27. 26 Westgate Street – a wonderful 16th century timbered building. Hopefully we’ll see it occupied soon.
28. Our heritage pubs – like the Old Bell, The Fountain, the New Inn and many more besides.
29. The Sheriff’s Assize of Ale – a medieval pub crawl in the good name of charity, reintroduced when I was Sheriff in 2003.
30. Gloucester Day – marks the lifting of the Siege of Gloucester, but now celebrates all that is good about the city.
31. Our people – We’re friendly, down-to-earth and don’t take ourselves too seriously.
32. Our voluntary organisations, community and faith groups and charities – they do so much, we’d never cope without them.
33. Our food and drink – like Old Spot sausages, Double Gloucester cheese and Gloucester Gold ale.
34. Our restaurants – we’ve got some gems like C&W African Experience, Sebz, the Tiger’s Eye and the Hilltop.
35. Mary-Jess Leaverland – our own singing sensation. So proud to watch her perform at the FA Cup Final.
36. The Ski Centre – not many places can boast a dry ski slope. And its new owners have invested in it considerably.
37. Our civic offices – the Mayor is a unifying figure and we’re one of only 15 towns and cities in England and Wales to still have a Sheriff.
38. Our businesses – like Severn Glocon, Prima Dental and Avon Metals. They are world leaders.
39. My friends and family – most are still around Gloucester and they make life what it is.
40. Our future – I genuinely believe that for Gloucester the best is yet to come.