Jill Jarrett, Henley Down Cottage

Last Saturday’s Burns Night Dinner, held in the Village Hall was thoroughly enjoyed by the forty-two people who attended. Sandra and her team of helpers had set up the hall with five long tables, laid with tartan napkins, white heather plants and the flag of St Andrew in the middle. Each table had a quiz with questions about Scotland to be answered during the evening and the recorded sound of bagpipes greeted our arrival.

Father Michael recited the Selkirk Grace to begin the meal and the hall was filled with delicious smell of cock-a-leekie soup for the first course. This was followed by the traditional ceremony of piping in the haggis. Bagpipes were admirably replaced by Sandra, Sarah and Valerie playing recorders and the haggis was presented to the honoured reader, John Overall, who with due ceremony, knife raised and a very impressive Scottish accent, read Robbie Burns address to the haggis. The haggis was cut open on cue and held aloft before we were invited to raise our wee dram and toast ‘The Haggis’! Piping hot plates of tasty haggis, neeps and tatties were served to all and second helpings were available to those wanting more. A delicious apple crumble and cream followed for dessert and coffee or tea completed the meal.

We pushed back our chairs to check our answers to the quiz and for the drawing of the raffle. Then Sandra placed a bottle of whiskey in the middle of the hall and we were invited to bowl £1 coins at it, with the nearest coin taking home the whiskey – this caused much hilarity and coins ended up all over the floor. Thanks were given by Sandra to everyone for coming and especially to all the helpers, but the biggest thanks must go to Sandra herself for organising such an enjoyable and innovative evening. Before saying goodnight, the assembled company formed a large circle and with crossed arms, gave a rousing rendition of ‘Auld Lang Syne’. The wonderful sum of £487 was raised for the parish church of St Laurence and a lot of people had a great time.

The next fund raising event for the church will be a Table Sale to be held in the Village Hall on Saturday 22nd February. The cost will be £10 per table and telephone Sandra on 01424 774708 for details and to book.

The FA are considering adopting a winter lay-off for football, but this year it has become compulsory occasioned by the wet weather. No matches last week and that leaves a redundant sports reporter searching for items of news. The floods on the Playing Field abating, there is a match scheduled for Saturday 1st February when the seconds are at home versus FC Westridge and the firsts are away in a Hastings Junior Cup match playing the very strong team of Hollington.

Other news from the village has been the retirement of Allan Wilkinson from his duties at the Village Hall. Allan has been our surveyor, handyman and vital member of the organisation for over ten years. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for the use of his knowledge and dedication in keeping the Hall in such good repair. He has overseen many important and time-consuming improvements to the building and his retirement is a great loss to everyone who uses the Hall. He was also our treasurer for some years, which is another vital voluntary job as everyone who runs organisations knows. So, here’s to everyone in villages who give up their time without the initiative of “the big society”, we are already doing it!

The funeral of Muriel Lovell who died recently will be held on Friday 21st February at 12.15pm in the main chapel at Eastbourne Crematorium and afterwards at Ninfield Methodist Church.

This Sunday 2nd February is Candlemas, which celebrates the presentation of the baby Jesus to God at the Temple in Jerusalem, when Simeon held the infant in his arms and declared that he would be a light for the Gentiles. At the parish church of St Laurence the Family service is at 9.15am and last week the Sunday School children were preparing their candles and holders for this occasion.