NEW HALL RULES: The New Hall is owned and managed by a registered charity known as Winchelsea Village Hall. It was given to the town almost 90 years ago and since 1926 still operates under the same structure. Over this period there have been various changes in charity law and practice and the trustees are inviting local residents to a meeting at the New Hall on Saturday November 28 at 10am to present proposals for updating the rules and governance. They will also be asking residents for approval to adopt a new constitution. If the changes are approved residents will be asked to elect a new Management Committee to hold office until the next Annual General Meeting in the summer of 2016. Everyone living in the town is a member of the charity and has a right to vote on these proposals so do come along to this special meeting to hear more about the new chapter.

ADVENT CAROL SERVICE: This year the Advent Carol Service will be at the Parish Church of All Saints and St Nicholas in Icklesham on Sunday December 29 at 6pm. It will be a Joint Benefice Service with music and readings to mark the beginning of the season of Advent so do your very best to come along. Advent is the beginning of the church year starting on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day and ending on Christmas Eve and is a preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in his first Advent/arrival and the anticipation of His return in the Second Advent. A rota system with local vicars is now underway to ensure that Winchelsea, Winchelsea Beach and Icklesham Parish Churches are being served each week and the Rector Robin Whitehead who is now in his second year at Winchelsea will be leading at the Advent Service. Also at this time of year the new season of the parish Prayer Partner Scheme will be launched on Advent Sunday and the papers for this year’s scheme are at the back of the church.

CAROLS TO SUSSEX BRASS: Everybody is welcome to join in and sing Christmas Carols to the music of Sussex Brass. It’s not a concert but a chance to sing along to a selection of traditional carols next Saturday December 5 at 7pm in St Thomas’ Church and hymn sheets will be available. For all those dry throats after the singing, glasses of mulled cider will be at hand along with mince pies and there will also be a retiring collection.

MILLENNIUM AGM: On Saturday December 5 The Millennium Artefacts Society is holding its Annual General Meeting at 10am in the Lower Court Hall. The artefacts are the town sign, beacon and tapestry all of which commemorate the millennium in Winchelsea and the Society raises funds to maintain these prominent items. Its main fundraising event is the exhibition of paintings by local artists held over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

LIGHTS OF LOVE SERVICE: One new event this year for Winchelsea is the Lights of Love service in support of St Michael’s Hospice. It is an opportunity to write a personal message on a star or heart in memory of a loved one and this token of dedication is placed next to a light on a Christmas tree. There are forms to complete for donations on the charity display at the back of the church. The service is on the second week of Advent, Sunday December 6 at 3pm in St Thomas’ Church and is followed by the Christmas tree lighting in the churchyard.

NIGHT WATCH: It was the first day of winter last Saturday morning with sleet showers in Icklesham, snow on the Ridge in Hastings and temperatures ranging from -2C to 5C. This did not deter a small number of people venturing out to the Methodist Chapel to hear the illustrated talk by Street Coordinator Martin West on Street Pastors. These are volunteers who will go where they are needed, in all weather conditions, to be of assistance to others. Martin gave examples of how his team of Street Pastors, like shepherds, Good Samaritans and family members had helped many lost and struggling souls during their Thursday to Saturday late night watches in Hastings. After five years on the streets the team are now a familiar entity that has developed a rapport with the local night time population. Although their motto is not to preach they may discuss issues, will always show compassion and will pray willingly with people in many different contexts. Despite being generally well-accepted Martin mentioned an occasion when a few anti-social youths shouted curses at them. They were certainly not daunted by this and a collective word of prayer brought peace to the situation. Martin is keen to continue in this role for as long as possible and would agree that: ‘Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.’ (Quote by British cricketer and missionary CT Studd.) At present the age range of Street Pastors in Hastings is between 20 and 92 years and nobody is turned away.

INFERNO, PURGATORIO, PARADISO: In her illustrated talk last Friday evening on Dante for the Literary Society Patricia Erskine-Hill gave the customary advice for first time readers of Dante to start with the section on Purgatorio before venturing into the Inferno but making sure to finish in Paradiso. So the choice is Inferno (hell) or Paradiso (Heaven) and Patricia demonstrated with illustrations symbolising darkness and light from the artists Gustav Dore, William Blake and Sandro Botticelli. The detailed chart of hell by Botticelli follows Dante’s descent through an upturned dome of decreasing circles to the pit of hell at earth’s centre. In 1302 Dante was accused of financial wrongdoing but did not pay the fine believing he was not guilty so instead was exiled from his birth place Florence. During that time he wrote the Divine Comedy in a language he called “Italian” which was mostly based on the Tuscany dialect, rather than writing in the established Latin. If he had returned to Florence without paying the fine he would probably have been burnt at the stake. It was not until seven centuries later in June 2008 that the city council of Florence finally rescinded Dante’s sentence. The Divine Comedy is not the easiest book to read and the Literary Society was grateful to Patricia for her fascinating, in-depth talk which was followed by an interesting question and answer session.

PRE-CHRISTMAS SALE: On Sunday November 29 the pre-Christmas Table Sale which celebrates the festive season with mulled wine and plenty of other purchases begins at 11am to 2pm. It was mentioned in last week’s VV that entry cost was £1 but this has since been amended to 50p and the venue as usual is the Community Hall on Sea Road.

CAROL SERVICE: The Advent Carol Service will be in Icklesham this year at All Saints and St Nicholas Church on Sunday November 29 at 6pm. This service will be led by the Rector Robin Whitehead and there will be readings from the Bible and hymns. Some popular carols for Advent which may well be sung during the service are: ‘It came upon the Midnight Clear’, ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘Lo He comes with clouds descending’ which mark the coming of Jesus the Messiah. All are invited to this service and might want to consider sharing lifts where possible.

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