MAYOR’S MOMENT: Friends from home and away

Billy with pupils and teachers from Sunnydown School
Billy with pupils and teachers from Sunnydown School

I was pleased to welcome pupils and teachers from the Sunnydown Special School in Caterham, Surrey, who came to Mewsbrook Park and support the Friends with litter picking and weeding.

They loved the area and were surprised how clean the park is kept. The teachers commented how the calm environment of the park affected the children in such a positive way.

Billy with the jazz band at the Dolphin

Billy with the jazz band at the Dolphin

The pupils were able to use the new wheelchair accessible picnic table that had been recently provided by Friends of Mewsbrook, before I presented them with certificates in recognition of their hard work.

I was pleased to learn that once again Mewsbrook Park had retained the green flag award which is a credit to the hard work of Arun District Council’s parks team, the Friends of Mewsbrook and all that care for the park.

Wednesday I spent a pleasant relaxed evening at another LOCA Art Week event, joining the Bamboo Band at the Stage by the Sea for an informal picnic, being enjoyed by those gathered in the surrounding garden.

It was lovely to see people sharing their food whilst enjoying the calypso style of the band with well-known songs and their own style of comedy.

The granary at Weald and Downland from Littlehampton

The granary at Weald and Downland from Littlehampton

I spent the best part of Thursday nervously learning and revising, feeling as I did before my GCSEs, as that evening would see me welcome the Twinning Associations guests from Durmersheim Germany, which I had already decided to do in German!

Having not done this since my school days, I found this to be quite a challenge, however on the evening in the Millennium Chamber I had no reason to worry. Our visitors were most appreciative and encouraging of my efforts and forgave any mispronunciations.

After a long journey and having been paired with their host families the visitors enjoyed light refreshments served by the twinning association members, which also included a selection of my Mayor’s Biscuits, made by Biggs Bakery, in the shape of colourfully decorated Ice-creams specially embellished for this occasion with both the Durmersheim and Littlehampton town crests.

Friday I was invited to take up a ceremonial pair of garden sheers to cut the ribbon for the official re-opening of Wickes, Broad Piece.

Standard Bearers at Sea Sunday

Standard Bearers at Sea Sunday

The company invested £1.2million revamping the store and improving the general layout, increasing the range of high end products and showcasing them in their displays.

The store has also been given a new shop front, improved Disabled access and baby changing facilities and a further program of staff training.

It is pleasing to see a national company investing so heavily to provide improved facilities for local residents.

Following this I joined our German friends and Twinning Association members for their visit to The Weald and Downland Living Museum, Singleton.

Billy cutting the ribbon at the Wickes reopening

Billy cutting the ribbon at the Wickes reopening

We enjoyed touring the site and visiting the many traditional Sussex buildings on display at this museum which has recently been enhanced with newly rescued and restored buildings and new visitors centre with shop, introductory galleries and stunning new waterside café.

One of the highlights of the tour was seeing the former granary building that use to be located in East Street, Littlehampton, which councillor Tony Squires, as one of the twinning members, recalled playing in as a child, much to the delight of all.

In a world where social media now plays such an important part, and being a fan myself having set up the Mayor of Littlehampton’s Facebook page, I was interested to attend an event that had stemmed from local Facebook pages.

The ‘2017 Get-Together’ of the Bygone Littlehampton, Flashback Wick Littlehampton, Rustington Past & Present and Flashback Littlehampton Facebook groups saw members meeting up at the Vardar Littlehampton for an informal gathering and opportunity to share photos and memories in person with each other.

The event attracted a large crowd and the first two people I had the pleasure to talk to, had travelled from Eastbourne and Holland respectively, showing the power the internet has of linking us all together, helping us to stay in touch with our roots.

I followed this with a trip into town where I’d been invited to enjoy the Dolphin’s Jazz in the Garden, which saw the pub host The Vintage Hot Five jazz quintet for an afternoon of lively, toe-tapping entertainment which drew an enthusiastic crowd to enjoy their talents and hospitality of the venue.

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Unfortunately due to “traditional” British summer weather, rain prevented use of the garden, however it didn’t dampen the spirits of the band or its audience by taking the event inside instead.

An early start Sunday morning saw me back at the manor to say “Auf Wiedersehen” to our German friends. After a traditional “Auld Lang Syne” and rousing rendition of “Sussex by the Sea” they took to their coach and were waved off on their journey home.

Later that day being ‘Sea Sunday’ I joined a congregation at the Pier Head Littlehampton to mark the event with the Littlehampton Branch of the Royal Naval Association.

This service which was conducted by Father Roger Caswell recognised the lives of all seafarers as they fulfil their duties and face the dangers of their calling; the officers, men and women of the Royal Navy, the Merchant Navy, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, the pilots of our ports, all who carry out the services of the harbour and docks, those who man lifeboats and guard our coasts.

After laying wreaths at sea, the assembled units of standard-bearers, service personnel, NTC Band and members of the 5th Littlehampton Sea Scouts were presented for inspection before a march past and salute was taken.

With this event coinciding with thrLittlehampton Waterfront Festival it was great to see so many people enjoying the river being used at its best by a variety of craft including the HMS Blazer which was giving locals the opportunity to step aboard.

The event also gave our own lifeboat station a chance to open its doors to welcome visitors and share in the excellent work that they do.

Please get in touch via the town council on 01903 732063 if you would like me to attend an event you are organising.

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One of the Durmersheim Mayor's Biscuits

One of the Durmersheim Mayor's Biscuits