SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Thanks and Thanksgiving

The renewed parish church of St Peter and St Paul

The renewed parish church of St Peter and St Paul

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Twice last weekend, people told me of the exceptional help and care they had at our local hospitals including Worthing.

Praise comes also for the services connected to Swandean and at Rustington’s Zachary Merton hospital. With my colleague Tim Loughton, I enjoyed meeting NHS midwives and West Sussex County Council’s public health leaders at Worthing hospital.

We saw the need for each generation of new parents to know the benefits of avoiding alcohol. It does make a difference if fathers and mothers do not smoke and if the child-to-be does not have to experience alcohol. What is the sense of them being affected by either second-hand before birth?

Worthing Homes support more elderly residents in independent living. Clive Cavanagh kindly introduced me to communities at Elizabeth House and Clifton Court. I am their representative, able to put concerns about possible financial change to Westminster and to Whitehall. In wide-ranging conversations, we reflected that earlier generations were less likely to be drivers with cars, competing with commuters for parking.

I love looking at the sea from the West Sussex coast. The greens and blues under cloud and sunshine were exceptionally varied and sharp last Friday morning. All was different by Saturday afternoon when I was taken sailing along the Solent in persistent rain to an evening singsong with members of a cruising club. Ordinary looking sailors had tales to tell of the North West Passage, preparations to sail into Antarctic waters and of sailing through the Bosporus.

We woke to glorious sunshine in the Beaulieu river, south of the Palace and the National Motor Museum. Egrets, cormorants, dunlin and many other birds in the nature sanctuary were watching the bass breaking the surface.

I returned to Rustington on Sunday for the parish council’s annual Civic Thanksgiving Service that precedes the presentation of Community Awards. We congregated at the renewed parish church of St Peter and St Paul. The builders have transformed it. The words ‘All things bright and beautiful’ came into my mind when I was greeted by Rev Zachary Allen, presiding at his sixth civic service.

Rev Christine Keyte told us of the mixed Methodist congregation in Johannesburg years ago. She spoke about how to break down the walls that should not separate us. Also importantly, she noted the work that parish and other councillors do day after day, saying that active helpers will never know all the darkness dispelled by their caring activities.

Whether backed by a party or being elected as an independent member, let us appreciate the motivation and the work of community-minded councillors.

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