December has arrived and so has a very busy diary for me.
Last week I started with a trip to Wick to the Flower shop where head florist Michelle and the rest of the team had been busily working away on a fundraiser for St Barnabas.
The team cannot always attend everything the town has going on as they obviously still have a shop to run, a few years ago they decided to start doing their own charity fun days and this is one of the two that they do each year.
There were raffles, pick an envelope and pick a square, with all the prizes being done to a Christmassy floristry theme, and everyone was wanting to have a go and see what they could win. Despite the weather the turn out was good and customers were offered mulled wine, tea and cake, while they took time to buy tickets or purchase something seasonal from the florist’s excellent range.
With all the tickets sold and all the florists going home for a well earned rest having worked so hard all day, their efforts had been rewarded having raised more than £520! Well done all involved, you should all be very proud of yourselves.
Following on from this I joined Jamie Bennett, the chairman of Rustington Parish Council, at the Woodlands Centre for the Arun East U3A Con Brio Choir’s first winter concert.
With Brian Timms as musical director and Marilyn Hurdwell accompanying on the piano, the venue was full to capacity and having attended one of their concerts earlier this year I was looking forward to seeing what they had been working on this time.
It opened on Let’s Sing a Bright Song and Let the People Sing and was followed by a wonderful rendition with a trio performing It’s Illegal, It’s Immoral Or It Makes You Fat.
Before the first half concluded the choir continued with For Me and My Gal and Me and My Girl and songs from West Side Story. A surprise in the first half was one of the members performing on an accordion, this is one of my personal favourite instruments and was a delight to hear it being played so beautifully.
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After a short interval the second half opened with songs from the First World War which included audience participation with one side singing It’s a Long Way to Tipperary and the other side singing Pack Up Your Troubles. Before ending, the choir performed their signature song World in Union followed by a mass of applause. Well done to everyone involved and keep up the great work.
On Friday afternoon I met with the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls, over afternoon tea to discuss the Sussex Community Foundation and to talk with her about various projects in the town.
This was a fleeting visit as the high sheriff is being very active and getting around to lots and on that day alone visited the Littlehampton Shop Mobility, Wadars, the mayor of Arundel, Lucy Ashworth, and the Keystone Centre.
I will post details about the Sussex Community Foundation on my mayor’s Facebook as this sounds like something that may be of help to many local groups or you can visit www.sussexgiving.org.uk.
That evening I, like many local residents, took to the High Street for the switching on of the Christmas lights. As you know I am a big fan of Christmas and this is something I look forward to every year.
Having had such an amazing switch-on event last year with many saying it was the best the town has ever had I was not sure if our elves at the town council would be able to outdo themselves, but once again they pulled it out the bag and delivered what I feel to be the best switch-on event this town has ever had.
The layout for the town centre was different to previous years with the main stage being at the top end of the High Street, rather than in the middle which seemed to allow everyone to move around much more freely and enjoy everything the evening had to offer.
With stalls from the artisan market in the main High Street, festive bouncy castles and card making for kids at Crafters’ Corner along Clifton Road, children’s rides along Duke Street and a second stage by Sainsbury’s with which included performances by the Edwin James Festival Choir and The Silhouette Show.
The churches certainly made an impression this year, reminding us all of the true meaning of Christmas with a live nativity which started with a procession through the High Street including their new giant puppets which were fabulous.
When the time came to turn the lights on I was joined on stage by our winner of the Name the Elf competition, Ruby, who would help me officially turn the lights on.
As I stood on that stage and looked out across the High Street I was taken away by just how many people were there that evening and thought this just goes to prove how much spirit we have in our town!
With both Ruby and I poised ready to plunge the switch to turn the lights on, we started the countdown down and it was wonderful to hear the cheers and everyone looking out for the two new elves that have been added to our town’s family this year. This was a simply wonderful evening and I am certain this was not only the best switch on we have ever had but also the most well attended.
Sadly I had a prior engagement on Saturday seeing me out of the town which I am not allowed to talk about just yet so I could not make it to Highdown Drive’s switch-on but have seen on Facebook that this went exceptionally well and looks stunning. I would encourage you to take time to go and have a look at the wonderful display they have made for this year.
As many will have already learnt I really am a huge fan of Christmas and have been ever since I can remember. This is probably why I have spent every spare moment over the past two weeks transforming my home and putting the decorations up.
Now some of you I am sure will be thinking why has it taken me two weeks to decorate my house, or are thinking that perhaps I have a very large house to decorate, well no I have a standard two bedroom bungalow but I do go to town on decorating with literally every inch of it being covered and transformed into a seasonal wonderland.
My husband and I a few years ago decided that we would open our house up by invitation to friends and family to see if we could raise a little money for charity and over the years this has gone well.
This year we of course decided to raise money for my mayoral Fund for the Arun Youth Projects, Arts and Social Club Bursary and through donations, cake sale and raffle were very pleased to have raised £689.61 with more money still coming in.
There is still lots more to look forward to over the seasonal period and hope you take the time to enjoy what the town has to offer.
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