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June 13 2014.

Newhaven Mayor Judith Ost writes:

My goodness how time flies. Since being elected Mayor on May the 6th my diary has been filled with various events either celebrating the work done by so many volunteers across the town or representing the town in some way or other.

First there was the Scouts AGM at the Scout Hut in Fort Road, then meeting with the folk at the Breakout Centre when the Bishop of Chichester made his visit. It is impressive and humbling to find just how much time people give to others without thought of recognition or reward.

A return trip to Rouen was next. We keep in contact with our neighbours across the water just as we do with our neighbours on this side of the Channel.

The next week we managed to fit in some time off with a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show and a “please come and babysit” trip to Berkshire.

The formal event was the return visit of a delegation from Vinh City along with the Vietnamese ambassador to sign a co-operation and friendship agreement at Meeching Hall. It is really quite a surprise to find that putting a few words of Newhaven history saying that Ho Chi Minh was once a pastry cook on the ferry should have led us here, but modern communications really do make the world more connected. We are looking for trade, cultural and educational links. Vinh City is also a port so we have a common interest in the economic opportunities offered by developing “Clean Green Marine” technology and the educational opportunities to be offered by the University Technical College when it opens next year. The Chamber of Commerce is involved with this project as are all the councils and economic partnerships that include our town. It’s early days yet so we don’t know quite what will emerge.

The bank holiday week was quite quiet on the Mayoral front with just an opportunity to go to the Fort for the opening of a permanent exhibition about the International Brigade, who went out to fight fascism during the Spanish Civil war. In many ways this was the opening salvo of WW2. Many of the brigade left through Newhaven Port, including the former union leader Jack Jones.

We have another “did you know” story for the next time we have an opportunity. The last known surviving member of the International Brigade is a Newhaven man, Stan Hilton, now living in Australia..... Unless you know better that is. Does anyone know of other surviving members or have any local stories or photos of those times?

After a quiet week, a very busy one. June started with a meeting with the French equivalent of the District Council Leader, in Newhaven this time, to talk about the future of the ferry and what we can all do together to promote the link to keep it financially viable.

On Wednesday I went along to open the new weekly Indoor market at the Mencap Hall on the West Quay. It is good to see local people getting together to promote their businesses. Do get along there if you can.

Thursday brought a trip to Portsmouth where we’d been invited to the D Day commemorations events. I guess many of you will have seen them on TV. We do make a good job of pageant and display as well as the serious moments of remembrance. The day finished with a visit to our son and his family who live in Southsea.

D Day remembrance then continued on Friday at the Fort for the Newhaven Commemoration. A Newhaven survivor of Sword beach was there to take part in the service and year 3 children from Harbour School sang a couple of wartime songs; “A Long Way to Tipperary” and “Run Rabbit Run”, for us. The children were beautifully behaved through what must have seemed to them a long service about things, thankfully, outside their experience.

In the evening it was over to Bexhill for the annual review of the Sussex East Guides. Another group of people just getting on with offering opportunities to our young people and encouraging them to explore all manner of different activities and young people rising to the challenges.

Saturday was the steam train day. I guess many of you will have seen the celebration train come through packed with people who had paid large sums of money for a ride. We were alongside other Mayors and dignitaries at Seaford station to welcome the train and a speech was given by someone pretending to be the land owner 150 years ago who made it all possible and, as he was anxious to add, at no personal gain.

We then had a lovely sunny afternoon at Denton Community Challenge where again all manner of voluntary activity was celebrated and enjoyed and most, I hope, went home having raised funds for their cause. I met several former pupils from my days at Tideway for a bit of reminiscing. Meeting people I used to teach is always a welcome diversion! Fascinating to find out what they’ve done and are doing.

This morning I was over to Denton school to meet a class of children who wanted to show me their brochures advertising Newhaven and Denton. Very impressive they were too. The children came to see me in groups and all of them waited politely and listened when it was not their turn to speak.

Someone tells me blogs are supposed to be short and sweet. I’ll have to get into the habit of doing this more often!

Judith Ost

Pictured above: Judith and husband Pat at Denton Community Challenge