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Church Matters: This Sunday, November 27, there will be a 10.30am service of Morning Praise at St Andrews. It is Advent Sunday, which looks forward to celebrating the time when Jesus was born.

At Fairlight, it is Finance Focus – a review of the year and bringing everyone up to date with the current situation. It is not a coincidence that Wednesday, November 30 is St Andrew’s Day!

A reminder for all residents that next Sunday, December 4, it will be time for our Christingle Service and the lighting of the Christmas tree, all at 4 pm at St Andrew’s. This is in aid of the Children’s Society. Collection boxes and gift envelopes for donations are also available. The Children’s Society’s goal is to provide a better childhood for every child. They particularly help children who have felt the need to run away from home, and families who are struggling financially, or with behavioural problems in their children. So please put this date in your diary! Many will fondly recall Christingle service from their own childhood, and maybe this year would be aa nice time for their children to enjoy the same experience. On the day, there will be a need to be very safety conscious! As christingle candles will be lit, so all children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Hair should be tied back and loose clothing will need to be secured. No one will be allowed to walk around with a lit candle.

And as we rush, windswept by the following gales, into the Christmas month, a reminder that there will be Community Carols, with mince pies and mulled wine, on Wednesday, December 14 at St Peter’s from 7 pm. On Sunday, December 18, there will be a double ration of Carols by Candlelight – with mince pies and mulled wine again! – at 4 pm at Pett Church, and at 6 pm at St Andrew’s.

MOPPs today and next week: Today, Friday, November 25, the popular Keith Osbourne will be on hand with his Music for Health. There’s also free hearing aid maintenance today, and lunch will consist of chicken casserole and dumplings, with banana custard for afters. Next Friday, December 2, there will be a Christmas Table sale, plus carols with Jim Saphin, and there’s a Star Prize for the raffle. Food for the day will be gammon with cheesy mash and salad, and apple crumble and custard to follow.

Fairlight Playgroup and Nursery: The Playgroup’s New and Nearly New sale in the village hall is tomorrow, Saturday, November 26, from 9.30 am until 12 noon. Well worth a bit of your time – in support of the group, not for just the great items you could purchase, so do give them a look, a sort of early trial run in readiness for their massive Jumble Sale next Spring.

For the playgroup itself, there is always a drop in numbers of children attending the playgroup each autumn as the older ones move off to their Primary reception class, but there is, as ever, a need for more from the two year old stratum to join in the fun and learning. The continuity of the group is important, a fact reflected in the knowledge that the new Chairman, Amy Godfrey (nee Shortman) was herself at the playgroup as a littlun. Being a gentleman, even if only part-time, I shall not tell you when. But it was in the last century!

Preservation Trust AGM: The AGM of the Preservation Trust will be held tomorrow, Saturday, November 26, in the village hall starting at 2.30 pm. The Trust’s Secretary, Paul Draper, has kindly furnished me with a copy of the Trust’s Press Statement, coming on-line just as Stage III of the final section of the Fairlight berm is completed. I share the Statement with you all, below.

Fairlight Preservation Trust Press statement, dated November 2016

This has been a momentous summer in the history of Fairlight. We have at last witnessed the completion of the third stage of the coast protection works in Fairlight Cove. This is the culmination of a campaign that began in 1986 to secure the provision of coastal defences in the Cove to protect this village from erosion by the sea.

The completion of Stage 3 of the berm, which joins up the two existing defensive structures built in 1990 and 2007 and fills ‘the gap’, now provides a continuous defence for the cliff top village and should save upwards of 180 homes from possible destruction by sea erosion if nothing had been done.

The cost of the Stage 3 berm has been met by grant-in-aid from the Environment Agency and by £150,000 of “Partnership Funding” provided by the residents of Fairlight themselves. This has taken the form of individual donations to the Fairlight Preservation Trust, the active support of many local clubs and societies and the promise of matching funding from Fairlight Parish Council.

It is a tribute to Fairlight that so many people have contributed to the funding of the scheme. Thanks are also due to the Fairlight Parish Council for the strong leadership and financial support that they have given in relation to this project.

The Fairlight Preservation Trust has throughout worked closely with the East Kent Engineering Partnership, the designers of the Stage 3 berm, and would wish to thank them and the Environment Agency for all their hard work and support. We should also thank Amber Rudd MP for her support at certain crucial stages and Rother District Council, our coast protection authority, for their help in achieving this successful outcome.

This is indeed a triumph for community effort and co-operation. After some 30 years of campaigning we now have a coastal defence structure that will protect the vast majority of homes in Fairlight for many decades.

To this all-embracing statement, I add my own. This presentation is so ‘English’, in that it shows controlled pride and justly thanks all those who made the happy outcome possible, especially the residents of the village, the groups and societies, and the Parish Council. But it is not until the fifth of six paragraphs that the Preservation Trust mentions itself, and then only for its strong working relationship with the East Kent Engineering Partnership. We should all be under no delusion – the drive and commitment shown over many years by many individuals of the Trust has provided the platform on which all the other external factors have been able to build and support. As a Johnnie-come-lately of 13 years residence, I would cite Paul Capps, John Sinclair, Laurie Beetham, George Morris (as I learned last week), Ruth and Leslie Kosmin, and apologise if my list is not as comprehensive as that of the Trust.

Village Hall Christmas Fair: This is on Saturday next, December 3, in the village hall from 12 noon until 3 pm. Hot food will be available from the start at 12 noon, and Father Christmas will be there from the start, too. n which is when Father Christmas will arrive (he’s an experienced Fair-goer, and doesn’t want to miss his nosh.) All the stalls you love re-visiting will be there, so make a diary note and go along to see old friends and spend a few bob, in old, real money.

RSPCA Fayre: This is another popular event in the village, the Fayre in aid of the Sussex East and Hastings branch of the RSPCA (Cats and Dogs), a highly regarded part of the organisation if the number of village people walking RSPCA rescue dogs is any yardstick. The date is a fortnight tomorrow, on Saturday, December 10, and their opening hours are from 10 am to 1 pm, all in the village hall. The local enthusiasts often have some interesting and unusual items on sale which makes a visit rewarding. This year is no exception as there will be a very special item up for grabs. They have received a magnificent donation of a four and a half litre bottle of Famous Grouse whisky. That’s less than three tablespoonfuls under a whole gallon! Just think how many miles you could do on that. Why, there must be one or two families in the village who could make it last until Christmas. It is to be won in a closed bid auction – you put your name, address and contact details on a piece of paper, along with your bid, and seal it in an envelope. The highest bid opened at the end of the Fayre is the winner. This is a very worthwhile prize from a very worthwhile organisation. Have a go – I’m sure Pickfords would take it home for you.

Royal British Legion: The Pett Branch of the Royal British Legion would like to thank all those who donated to this year’s Poppy Appeal. The collection box money and donations have now been counted, checked and banked, and the Appeal total sum is £5,250.87. This is greater than last year’s total, and heartfelt thanks are forthcoming from John Pulfer, Chairman & Poppy Appeals Organiser for the Pett Branch, not only to all who donated so generously but, particularly, to all who acted as collectors. (It is well worth noting that a shortfall in volunteer numbers led to John himself covering more than one ‘round’ in more than one village!) This Branch consists of the five villages of Fairlight, Guestling, Icklesham, Pett and Three Oaks. The Legion would like to see more members – new members – at the branch, and those who would like to join this highly respected organisation are asked to contact John on 814866 for details. He points out that it is not essential for Legion members to have previously been part of the Armed Forces.

John Pulfer has recently taken over the Chair of the Pett Branch from Tony King who, with his wife Val as Welfare Officer for Fairlight, each served the Legion to excellent effect for 20 years, and further thanks and gratitude are due to them both.

Stormin’ ahead: The Atlantic Storm year runs, we learn, from October to September. We are lucky not to have had the first in this year until late November. Thanks to the anthropomorphisation of these monsters, in which naming them seems to seek to make them soft and cuddly, we have just been beset by Angus. Ridiculous! Angus was born in Aberdeen and rages about like a bull. He’s to be followed by Barbara next, and then Conor and Doris. A lot of nice people are going to be offended, although you can nominate names for future storms. The only obvious one is Wayne, but it appears we seldom get much further than halfway through the alphabet, when we start again. Unfair to the A to Ms!

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