Norton’s heartfelt plea to culture judges

graham norton promotional shot
graham norton promotional shot

TV star Graham Norton has made an impassioned plea to judges ahead of the 2017 City of Culture decision day on Wednesday to “make it official and declare 1066 Country the City of Culture.”

The 50-year-old comedian who lives in Cooden Beach has thrown his weight behind the momentous bid which could transform the area into the place to be in four years time.

Judges will whittle the 11 contenders down to just five for the next stage of the decision process.

Hastings is rated as a 12-1 shot by bookmakers William Hill having coming in from rank outsiders at 25-1 at the start of the competition.

Chester remain favourites to take the title.

But as demonstrated this year with Derry, the bookies favourite is not always the judges favourite.

Mr Norton joined fellow comic Eddie Izzard, who is from Bexhill, in backing the bid.

He said: “Being named city of culture is an enormous honour for any area but I can think of nowhere more deserving than 1066 country.

“I have been spending time in the area for the last 10 years and have truly fallen in love with it and the people who call it home.

“Clearly, as the name suggests, there is a long fascinating history.

“But, perhaps because it is on the coast, that past still seems very alive.

“Fisherman, holiday makers, a melting pot of nationalities, all combine to make this a unique area.

“Over the years it seems to have more than it’s fair share of hard knocks but the residents’ energy and pride continually win the day.

“This award would be perfect boost and reward for an area that needs and deserves it.

“The quickest of glances will show you the galleries and festivals but spend time there and you will discover an extraordinary amount of, writers, artists,

activists and crafts people all happily sharing their talents.

“Bexhill and Hastings and the surrounding areas are packed to bursting with energy, creativity and attractions. Make it official and declare 1066 country the City of Culture.”

The organising team hope judges will be wowed by their coup de gras, a 300 mile march from York to 1066 Country re-enacting the walk King Harold’s men undertook almost 1,000 years ago.

Even if the bid is unsuccessful, organisers are already planning ahead for the future regeneration and prosperity of the area.

On Monday, July 15 it is hoped a second symposium will be held at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

Hastings Borough Council leader Jeremy Birch said: “Since we put the bid in we couldn’t have had more culture.

“Just this week we’ve had the Jerwood Gallery award and the Helter Skelter statue at Pelham roundabout.

“We have a very strong bid and I don’t think we could have done anything better. Hastings is an iconic name in itself and we hope the judges will see just how much this town means to the culture of this country.”