First Saturday: It being the first Saturday in the month there will be a Church Market: Tomorrow February 7th in St Thomas’ Church. As always there is the promise of good food, good coffee and a good chat, plus the grand re-launch of the book sale. This year celebrates the 10th Anniversary of this special community event, so do come along and bring others as well.

Second Wednesday: Richard Thomas will be giving a talk on: ‘Overseas Evacuation of Children in Wartime’ at the Second Wednesday Society’s meeting this Wednesday February 11th. During the Second World War the Children’s Overseas Reception Board approved 24,000 children for evacuation overseas. In 1940 between June and September alone, 1,532 children were evacuated to Canada, 577 to Australia, 353 to South Africa and 202 to New Zealand. The talk will begin at 2.30pm in the New Hall and the cost is £1 members and £4 non-members for the talk and home-made tea.

Love Feast: On Valentine’s Day February 14th Winchelsea Methodist Chapel celebrates its annual Love Feast which is a sacrament which dates back to the beginnings of Methodism. You are welcome to join with the Chapel Friends at 12pm to share a light meal and reflect upon Christian faith and heritage. The traditional idea of a Love Feast is to encourage a spirit of harmony and goodwill, forgive past disputes, love one another and eat in common a harmless meal. Deacon Jean Duckworth-Lloyd from the Battle Methodist Church will be leading the celebration. There is no need to book and food is provided but donations towards the costs would be appreciated.

Lent Group sign-up: This year the parish Lent Study Course group will be meeting at St Richard’s Church on Thursdays from 7 to 8.30pm on the following dates: February 26th, March 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th. The course is open to residents around the parish and is always well-attended. If you would like to take part in the course please write your name on the list at the back of St Thomas’ Church.

Bingo returns: After a short break over the Christmas-New Year period Cash Bingo starts on Wednesday February 11th at the usual time of 7.15pm in the Winchelsea Beach Community Hall. Refreshments and a raffle will be available; players must be over 16 years of age and children are welcome to come along with an adult.

Spring Fever: On Saturday February 14th, St Valentine’s Day, a Spring Fever Dance will be in motion at the Winchelsea Beach Community Hall. Dancing will be from 7.30 till 10.30pm, accompanied by the live band Ricochet and you are more than welcome to attend. The tickets are £10 p.p. which includes a fish and chip supper and please bring your own drinks and glasses. To purchase tickets the number to ring is: 01797 224820 or visit Hugh at Sutton’s in Sea Road.

Last Friday: The next Fellowship Lunch will be as usual on the last Friday in the month, February 27th at 12 for 12.30pm in the Winchelsea Beach Community Hall. This is a chance to get together and chat over lunch which is provided from your donations with any profit made going to charity. Please ensure that you book in advance by contacting 01797 227394 as numbers are needed for catering.

Flood meeting update: The Winchelsea Beach Community Hall was packed last Saturday morning for the flood meeting, organised by Icklesham Parish Council and Chaired by MP Amber Rudd, with representatives from Southern Water and the Environment Agency. The key points were that the foul sewer network which serves Winchelsea Beach is prone to infiltration from groundwater, surface water run-off during heavy rain and sea water during high tides. Southern Water has regularly deployed tanker lorries to pump out the excess but this does not solve the problem and instead has proven to be a costly exercise and disturbing to residents in the area. The longer-term solution for Southern Water will involve spending £40,000 to seal the pipe-work in the sewers where water is forcing its way in. An Infiltration Reduction Plan is also being developed to set out the strategy for managing infiltration of the sewers. However it was clear from questions and comments by the public that the main issues were the local dykes which it was revealed had not been properly maintained in years. Most were in need of unblocking and many of the original ones seen on 1950s maps had been cemented over where building works such as the caravan site, had taken place. The question as to who should maintain these drainage ditches was uncertain but possibilities were the tenants themselves, Rother District Council and/or the Environment Agency. It was also suggested that the sewage pumping station built over 50 years ago was no longer man-enough for the task due to later developments. Therefore matters to be resolved included finding out exactly the cause of the surface water and organising a clean-up operation for the dykes. It was also essential to determine who should take the lead as this is continues to be a multi-agency task. In the meantime the problem of sewage in residents’ gardens which is both an inconvenience and a health issue has been on-going for at least 5 years. After 1.5 hours the meeting came to a brisk conclusion with many local residents emphasising their impatience with the lack of progress and putting forward an ultimatum that they would withhold their water rates payments until the work was satisfactorily completed.

Cindi Cogswell

31 Highfords, Icklesham