Gardens open: The Open Gardens day for the National Gardens Scheme takes place tomorrow April 23rd from 1 till 5.30pm. There are six gardens to view and enjoy and a map is provided at the first garden visited in the town. Entry cost is £6 for the gardens and refreshments will be served in the New Hall. During the tour of the gardens there is once again the opportunity to visit the Wesley Chapel which will be open at 2pm and learn more about its history. The chapel is opposite the New Hall and a warm welcome awaits visitors.

FOAM cellars: Before the Open Gardens afternoon begins there will be a guided Cellar Tour in the morning of Saturday April 23rd. The Friends of the Ancient Monuments have organised the tour which starts at 10.50 for 11am and lasts for 90 minutes. There will also be a Cellar Tour on Sunday April 24th and the place to meet for all tours is the Town Well in Castle Street. Please wear sensible shoes for access to the cellars and bring a torch. The phone number for bookings is 01797 222629 and the cost is £5 p.p. with proceeds in aid of the charity FOAM.

Winchelsea Cricket: Chalvington and Ripe in Hailsham, East Sussex is the world’s oldest cricket club, formed in 1762. However Winchelsea Cricket Club is not far behind, in both years and runs, being founded in 1795. WCC is a friendly team playing traditional Sunday fixtures against local towns and villages and their home games are played at the cricket field on Rectory Lane, next to the New Hall. The season gets going with a home match against Southbourne on Sunday April 24th, followed by away fixtures against Bexhill on Sunday May 1st and against Tenterden on Sunday May 8th. New players are always welcome and are invited to introduce themselves to the captain on match day.

Transport and timings: There will be a concert in memory of Tom Harris on Friday April 29th at Eton College in Windsor. Tom Harris was a talented musician and pianist who studied music at Eton and won awards in the Hastings Music Festival. He regularly gave piano recitals in St Thomas’ Church for the Winchelsea Arts concert series and was studying piano at the Guildhall School of Music. His recent, untimely death at the age of 22 years was very sad and unexpected and thoughts are with the parents. For those wishing to attend the concert the coach will leave Winchelsea from German Street (between the Church and New Inn) at 2pm and then pick up at Tenterden outside St Mildred’s Church adjacent to the Woolpack Inn at 2.30pm.

Folk concert: A return visit to Winchelsea for folk artists Amanda Sykes and Rex Preston is arranged for Friday April 29th at 7.30pm in St Thomas’ Church. The concert is sponsored by the Bonfire Boyes and tickets are £11 each from Grammar School Records in Rye. Amanda has performed with Show of Hands and is a vocalist, double bassist and guitarist; Rex is a songwriter and plays the mandolin/bouzouki. Both are outstanding musicians on the English folk and roots scene.

New Hall survey: Survey forms are available at Winchelsea Farm Kitchen for residents and friends to complete before the survey closing date on Saturday April 30th. The survey is to find out the future needs of the New Hall and how to fund these and includes questions like: what events/activities would you like more of? How often do you use the New Hall and do you require membership details? Following on from the questionnaire will be a series of working group consultations and you will have the opportunity to discuss problems and suggest solutions. The first consultation which concerns the kitchen will begin on Friday May 6th.

Police Commissioner Election: The election for the Police and Crime Commissioner is on Thursday May 5th and voting takes place between 7am and 10pm in the New Hall. Responsibilities of the post include setting and updating a police and crime plan for the Sussex force; setting the force budget and the amount of council tax residents pay for the police; holding the Chief Constable to account on behalf of the public. Those standing for nomination are: Katy Bourne (currently holds the post) Conservative; James Doyle –Worthing – Green Party; Michael James – Crawley – Labour; Patrick Lowe – Brighton & Hove – UKIP; James Walsh – Arundel – Liberal Democrats.

Hope on BBC: You may remember the Rev John Hope on Radio 4 in the 1980s with his 3 minute slots on ‘Thought for the Day’? John always had plenty to say about politicians and celebrities at the time and one of his favourite ‘thoughts’ included a friendly swipe at John McEnroe which rounded off with Jesus’s merciful words on the cross: ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’. It was last Wednesday evening that John Hope came to the Wesley Chapel to talk about his time in religious broadcasting at the BBC, to a small, interested audience. When local radio was first launched in the early 1970s John helped to set up the religious programme for Radio Derby which focused on topics within the surrounding community. He later moved to Ruislip and worked at Radio London where he undertook the religious broadcasting which covered a much wider area. Throughout this time he was also a Methodist minister. Some household names that John interviewed for radio were Lord Soper and later, Jimmy Savile in the 1990s. Rev Lord Soper was described by the Independent as ‘the last of those nonconformist princes of the pulpit’. What mattered to Donald Soper about Christianity was Jesus’s teaching about nonviolence as a way of life. At school he excelled in sports and at Cambridge concentrated on cricket. A ball he bowled unintentionally hit the batsman above the heart and the young man died instantly. Soper never forgot this tragedy which came to influence him in his work for peace. This incident in Soper’s past life was a surprise to John at the interview since it had not been publically revealed or mentioned in the informal chat before going on air and so John did his best to get Soper to talk more about it. Three minders sat with Jimmy Savile during his interview and although nothing scandalous had been exposed about Savile at the time John found the atmosphere strangely oppressive. John played the taped conversation he had had with Savile at the talk. In the brief excerpt Savile’s words came across as rapid and ambiguous in his mental efforts to avoid answering questions about himself. It seemed to John that these minders had a watchful hold on Savile as though to ensure he did not say anything incriminating. In 1990 Savile received a Papal Knighthood from the Roman Catholic Church but this did little to improve his image as within a few years his popularity was shattered. John admitted finding it difficult to interview Savile who, though used to giving interviews and being in the public eye, when it came to being interviewed himself he Savile was deliberately evasive and gave nothing away. After the talk there was time for questions, refreshments and fellowship before all went their separate ways. Having worked in the community for many years John retired from the ministry fourteen years ago and continues to enjoy listening to Radio 4 and the local radio stations: BBC Sussex, Heart and Sovereign FM, amongst others.

Winchelsea Beach

Walk to Camber: Tomorrow Saturday April 23rd there is a wildlife walk to Camber Castle and an opportunity to visit the birdwatching hide overlooking Castle Water. Look out for marsh harriers, egrets and ducks and listen for the warblers. The walk is from 1 till 4pm meeting at Brede Lock and car parking is nearby. Also donations in aid of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve would be most appreciated.

Table Sale: On Saturday April 30th the Winchelsea Beach Community Association invite all to a Table Sale at 11am in the Community Hall. If you would like a table the cost is £6 and the number to contact is 01797 229163 for details. For everyone coming along to buy the entrance cost is 50p which includes tea and biscuits; also home-made cakes will be on sale. Proceeds from the Table Sale will go to the WBCA.

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