Littlehampton you’re keeping me busy!

Billy at the St Barnabas House hospice shop in Wick with Barnaby Bee, Hampton the Hedgehog plus Disney princesses Cinderella and Belle
Billy at the St Barnabas House hospice shop in Wick with Barnaby Bee, Hampton the Hedgehog plus Disney princesses Cinderella and Belle

Throughout the week had a number of different meetings and on a very hot, sunny day even I couldn’t quite believe I found myself discussing the town council’s plans for Christmas, but if we are to do as well or even better than last year then we need to plan well ahead.

While talking about the town council, I would like to publicly thank Donna, the mayor’s secretary, who is retiring after assisting the mayors of Littlehampton well over the past few years.

Billy Blanchard-Cooper with the owners of Burgers and Dogs in Littlehampton

Billy Blanchard-Cooper with the owners of Burgers and Dogs in Littlehampton

The first of my engagements found me in Wick Hall where I met with the Wick Wicked Quilters. I briefly spoke with the group at the town show last year and when I saw them again at Sussex Day this year, I was incredibly impressed with the quality of their work.

The group has around 24 members with considerable talent in producing not just patch work quilts but frankly what should, in my opinion, be deemed works of art.

I am no stranger to a needle and thread as my mother was a seamstress at Curtis Clothing and taught me how to sew on a machine and by hand from a young age, so can appreciate the hard work and hours that go into making these masterpieces.

It was lovely to see some of their work up close, talk with their members and find out more about what they are doing in the future. The group meets at Wick Hall every Wednesday.

Billy Blanchard-Cooper with the High Sheriff of West Sussex Caroline Nicholls

Billy Blanchard-Cooper with the High Sheriff of West Sussex Caroline Nicholls

The following day I was back in Wick at the St Barnabas shop for their Tea at Three event, organised by store manager Michelle and her enthusiastic team, which included a raffle, singer and visits from mascot Barnaby Bee, Hampton the Hedgehog and Disney princesses Cinderella and Belle.

The team in this shop work very hard to put on different events throughout the year to raise much needed funds, so well done to all involved in raising £136 through the raffle and lots more through sales.

After this, I and other dignitaries were invited to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum by the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls, for her summer reception.

I was quite surprised when the High Sheriff quoted me in her speech, from my civic service when I likened the town to a puzzle with no picture on the box – you spend your year seeing how the pieces fit together to make one beautiful picture. However she felt West Sussex was more like a box of chocolates – she enjoys each one and so far hasn’t found any orange crèmes!

It is lovely getting to know our High Sheriff this year who is working hard in this beautiful county of ours – and I now know what chocolates not to buy her.

Finally, on Sunday I had a busy day and with so much to do in our lovely town, is that any surprise?

Lately there have been a number of new independent stores opening in Littlehampton including Vintage Rock in Church Street, Aunty Opie’s in Surrey Street and the latest being Burgers and Dogs in Pier Road, which I went to open that morning.

This is the former Baliton Restaurant which has been completely refitted to a very high standard and style that complements the riverside location.

They are offering a great selection of burgers and hotdogs and I was very pleased to see not only a vegetarian option but even a vegan offering. This has been bought to our town by Tom and Ivan who have already successfully opened the Gravy Boat a little further along the same road, and it’s great to see them reinvesting in Littlehampton.

I wish them luck in their new venture, however having spoken with Tom about all the planning, research and seeing the amount of interest on Facebook, I think they will be attracting a lot of custom.

Following this I rocketed to meet with the kids, leaders and helpers from the Arundel and District Beaver Scouts to find out all about their space themed camp weekend in Littlehampton.

Approximately 130 children from Barnham, Littlehampton, Rustington, Arundel, Angmering, Walberton, Yapton and East Preston joined in for the two-day event including an overnight camp sleepover.

The groups met up on Saturday and enjoyed a planetarium, Star Wars bouncy castle, making space slime, colouring their own rocket, spaceman dress up, moon walk and lots more. This has become a yearly event for these groups and it was great to see the kids running around, learning lots about space, burning off lots of energy and making new friends.

This also earned them their space camp badge. Well done to everyone who made this possible!

In the afternoon I was in Mewsbrook Park where I’d arranged a free concert by the Littlehampton-based Sussex Steel band, with a collection in aid of my fundraising efforts this year for Arun Youth Projects Arts and Social Club Bursary fund.

The band very kindly performed for free for this one-off performance in the park, which was well received by the crowds. The performance included Copacabana, YMCA, I Will Survive and many other well-known tunes all performed to an excellent standard.

It was great seeing the band’s enthusiasm for Littlehampton. By the end of the performance a total of £136.22 had been raised.

Thank you to Sussex Steel, who can next be seen this Saturday evening at the Worthing Assembly Hall for their concert Steel the Show – for details and to book please call 01903 206206.

Finally, much of my week has been consumed by preparations for my Party in the Park event at Mewsbrook Park on Sunday. There will be much to enjoy and will see funds being raised again for my fundraising efforts this year. It would be great to see lots of you there.

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