MAYOR’S MOMENT: Festive celebrations

Billy with members of Friends of Mombasa Children
Billy with members of Friends of Mombasa Children

My first engagement was Thursday afternoon at the Windmill Theatre where the Twilight Tappers were holding their Christmas extravaganza.

Following the closure of the Tamarisk centre this group carried on in their new home at the Windmill under the direction of Leslie Mercer and meet every Wednesday to work on their tapping skills with members ranging from their 60s to 90s – a more lively fun loving bunch you could not imagine.

Father John at Holy Cross Church in Uckfield

Father John at Holy Cross Church in Uckfield

As well as tap routines the show included other dance routines, poems and songs all performed by the members and I for one thoroughly enjoyed it.

The show was in aid of St Barnabas House hospice and with ticket sales and a raffle they raised more than £200 – well done all involved.

The following evening I was at the United Reform Church for a Christmas tree festival organised by the Friends of Mombasa Children.

For those who do not know this group they are working towards a community where children have access to education, equipping them with the life skills and qualifications necessary to gain meaningful employment to enabling them to escape the restrictions of poverty.

Billy with one of the snow cats at Wickmas

Billy with one of the snow cats at Wickmas

At the festival they had trees decorated by different groups who use the church hall during the week, a raffle and table sale, cake sale and sale of items they have brought back from Kenya when they have visited the school and children they support.

Come Saturday I was in for a very busy day, I started by popping by the Artisan Market in town.

Although not there officially, I still like to see how they are doing and was not disappointed.

As always they had lots on offer for shoppers in the town and, despite the cold weather, it looked already like they would be in for a good day.

Twilight Tappers

Twilight Tappers

I then headed onto Wick to join in the fun at Wickmas where crowds were already gathering to enter into the fun of the event.

With a giant snow cat, juggling Jack Frost, falconry display, community stalls, hourly free raffles, live performances and much more, there was something for everyone.

With the doors opened the hall very quickly filled up with everyone wanting to be part of the seasonal fun arranged by Julie Roby, of the Wick Information Centre, and Wick Village Traders.

The sense of community and seasonal fun was evident everywhere you looked, and all involved should be extremely proud of arranging such a wonderful well attended event.

Leaving Wickmas I went on to meet up with Eileen Smart and the members of the 50 Up Club at the Riverbreeze Restaurant to join in with their Christmas lunch.

The food was fabulous and there was even a free raffle after the meal and all got to take home goodie bags with chocolate in as they left.

The group joins up for bingo twice a week at Project 82 in Wick, and has raised lots of money for charity over the years with its bingo at the Town Show, and it’s always a delight to meet up with them as they are very welcoming and also a little cheeky, and not to mention saucy.

If you like a game of bingo do go down and join in with them as they will make you feel part of the group straight away.

Come the evening I had the pleasure of attending a presentation evening with the Arun Valley 1087 Air Training Corps.

It was wonderful to find out all about what they have been doing over the past year and their aspirations for the coming year, not to mention seeing them recognised with various awards.

As well as the awards being presented some had achieved NVQs through the group which can go on their CVs and help them in later life.

Speaking to some of the members and parents I could tell this is a group that works hard but has a lot of fun and gives them great skills for the future, so maybe if you’re reading this and think this might be right for you or someone you know then I’m sure they would like to hear from you.

Finally Sunday I was in Uckfield for the Sussex Bonfire Associations annual carol service at Holy Cross Church.

This is no ordinary carol service, with the congregation in costume including Tudor ladies, Native Americans, First World War officers, to name but a few.

Even the ‘chain gang’, as us mayors are affectionately referred to, are encouraged to join in and one dressed up as the Vicar of Dibley and I in my red sequin Santa coat and hat.

As the ‘chain gang’ tradition dictated, the first verse of one of the carols is performed by only us and then the rest of the congregation joins in.

Even Father John joins in the fun of this very relaxed and fun service, but still with the true meaning of Christmas being held, and this message was still wonderfully conveyed when, after one of the carols, the lights dimmed, fog filled the front of the church and Darth Vader appeared with lightsaber – and the congregation created the theme from Star Wars.

Father John soon removed his mask and said how Darth Vader works for the dark side and he works for the light side and the light always wins, as it says in the bible, John 1:5: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Lastly, well done to our own New Inn on Norfolk Road for coming third in the Gazette’s Pub of the Year competition.