Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Mark training for Channel Challenge, Elsie-Rose & SMA Type 1

As I've mentioned a number of times now, Mark Little and 3 other Team members are going to cross the English Channel by kayak in August, leaving from Dungeness, and landing in Boulogne several hours later, no doubt with aching arms! Why? Well, to help raise funds for local lass Elsie-Rose, the Elsie-Rose & Friends Foundation, and to ensure greater awareness of SMA Type 1.

Elsie-Rose was diagnosed with SMA (Spinal Muscular AtrophyType 1 in September 2014, a condition that causes severe muscle weakness, and creates problems with movement, breathing and swallowing. Sadly, without intervention, most children with SMA Type 1 die within the first two years of their shortened lives. However, with her courageous and strong character, Elsie-Rose strives to enjoy life just like any other 4 year old!

Mark practicing out there!

The Elsie-Rose & Friends Foundation was also set up to provide help and financial support to families with disabled, sick, and terminally ill children. After meeting Elsie-Rose and members of her family, Mark and his team decided to take up the challenge and kayak across the English Channel with the aim of raising money for Elsie-Rose, and for the Foundation.

Consequently, they are seeking donations via Crowdfunding to go towards the cost of any special equipment Elsie-Rose may need, and to provide the Elsie-Rose & Friends Foundation with funding and to support other families in need. There is also a collection box and sponsorship forms at the Dolphin Inn, 11-12 Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings TN34 3DW.

A wee bit closer

If you wish to know more about Elsie-Rose and the Elsie-Rose & Friends Foundation you can go to their facebook page or twitter page. If you would like more information about SMA Type 1, go to the Spinal Muscular Atrophy website.

To help support the courageous young Elsie-Rose and others, a donation via Crowdfunding would be very gratefully received, or visit the Dolphin Inn and make a pledge to support the Kayak Team, or add to the collection box, many thanks!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Friends of Hastings Pier Meeting Report 23rd April 2018

I attended the meeting called by Friends of Hastings Pier yesterday evening, at the White Rock Theatre, met up with a fair number of like-minded friends, and was impressed at what must have been circa 500 shareholders and supporters in attendance. My notes are a bit hard to read as I'd originally written them on the paper that turned out to be the ballot paper for representatives to put forward the plans of Friends of Hastings Pier and the meeting to the Administrators, so I scribbled them down quickly, in poor light, before casting my votes! Anyway, to the meeting...

The meeting was chaired by Steve Manwaring of Hastings Voluntary Action, who handled very well the little friction that appeared over the two hours, and kept the discourse on the move appropriately. Hugh Rolo of Social Investment Business (website), and a shareholder, spoke about possible funding and stipulated the rising of the Pier 'from the ashes' was just the first phase of building this 21st century pier, and now we need to get to the second phase. Then Jess Steele passionately described to us how Friends of Hastings Pier see this second phase and described their plan, which looks at the business in a Bottom/Top way, the fabric of the pier (bottom) should be owned by the community, and the working business (top) should be a profitable business, most likely privately run, and pay rent to the Bottom.

Talking about passionate, next came, I think his name is Adam Wide, who previously worked for Openwide Investments for whom he helped to turn round the business of two piers, Cromer and Bournemouth (website), cruise ships, and who knows what else, to call him enthusiastic is an understatement. He looked lively, and many jokes were shared about his 'deckchair' shirt, but his enthusiasm got me thinking, yes, with people like him involved the Pier can make money! He suggested ideas about the possibilities for entertainment and activities on the Pier, and what would bring in the money for Phase 2, whilst Alex de Rijke, architect of the 21st century Hastings Pier, from drMM Architects (website), and winner of the 2017 RIBA Stirling Prize (see blog), showed us the potential for dynamic new structures on the Pier, including keeping a large open space for larger concerts, and promenading of course, and an innovative smaller structure which could hold up to 500 for indoor activities.

I can't do justice to the amount of excellent work put in by the participants, you really need to get in touch with the Friends of Hastings Pier, better, join them in their battle, apparently they meet every Friday on the Pier, or go to their facebook page or twitter page, or email them at 

As I alluded to earlier, there was little friction at the meeting, mostly strong support, one quite angry shareholder present asked why all shareholders hadn't been contacted, she hadn't found out about this meeting until she had discussed it with someone when she visited the Pier. However, when it was explained by Jess that it was the Administrators blocking Friends of Hastings Pier contacting shareholders, as they had the list of shareholders and wouldn't share the list (is this indicative of the apparent contempt the Administrators hold towards shareholders?), and she seemed placated. Though what this does show is that not everyone uses social media, so, if you know a shareholder who is unaware of what is going on, please share the knowledge and suggest they contact Friends of Hastings Pier urgently!

After a number of questions and answers, Jess Steele reiterated the 5 principles they had written down, one of which is that the Pier should not be sold off into private hands but be owned by the community. Indeed, as I've said before, it was private enterprise that nearly destroyed the Pier! She also explained that the Administrators need to extend the time limit for the £1million funds request (blog) to 30 days, to make this a more reasonable target, good luck with that!

Now, if anyone has money stashed by, or knows someone who has, or a business or charity that could pledge support, please get in touch with Friends of Hastings Pier at and/or pledge at the same email address, subject: Pledge.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Reminder: This evening Friends of Hastings Pier Meeting!

Please come along and give support to the Friends of Hastings Pier meeting at 7.30pm at the White Rock Theatre this evening, the more support the better!

See previous blog.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Hastings Pier Financial Backing Urgently Required!

Further to my recent blog, the Administrators now appear to be rushing through a request for proof that, by TuesdayFriends of Hastings Pier must get together £1million (and/or evidence of pledges) if they want to stay in the running to keep Hastings Pier in community ownership, not very friendly of them! 

The Friends of Hastings Pier have put forward a good business plan which would include raising money through many means, including Crowdfunding, a share offer, and to apply for grants and to other funders, but time is too short for such medium-longer term funding, they have been given until just Tuesday to provide evidence of funds!

If anyone has money stashed by, or knows someone who has, or a business or charity that could pledge support (also see facebook page), please get in touch with Friends of Hastings Pier at and/or pledge at the same email address, subject: Pledge.

Also, please come along and give support to the meeting at 7.30pm at the White Rock Theatre tomorrow (Monday 23rd April 2018), the more support the better!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Beer Festival at the Albion this weekend!

The Albion, 33 George Street TN24 3EA (and with an entrance on the seafront) is holding its annual St George's Beer Festival this weekend, continuing on to Monday (St George's Day). There is a selection of real ales from local breweries and from a bit further away.   

Image thanks to Samuel Docker

The RX Shanty Men will be performing live this afternoon (Saturday) from 3pm, plus there will be live 'Jazz on Sunday' early tomorrow evening. Also tomorrow, there will be a 'traditional' Yard of Ale Drinking Competition (drinking 1.4L of beer from one very long and difficult to manage vessel!) at 4pm outside the seafront bar (top picture). 

For St George's Day, Monday the 23rd of April, the Albion is introducing a 'traditional' Pie & Mash offer, a London Pub Pianist will be playing that evening, and the first 50 customers through the door at 6pm will receive pie and mash free! See facebook page.