OUT IN THE FIELD: Congress is as bare as a baby’s proverbial

The old lady that is the Congress Theatre is finally getting some TLC and a facelift inside
The old lady that is the Congress Theatre is finally getting some TLC and a facelift inside
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Call me a saddo but some of the highlights of my career have been going behind the scenes of some iconic Eastbourne buildings – battling against sea sickness to get inside the Beachy Head Lighthouse, trying to conquer an inane fear of heights to climb up the clock tower at the top of the Town Hall and scaling a ladder to stand on the roof of the Towner Art Gallery when it was under construction way back when.

This week there was another of those privileged moments when I went backstage at the Congress Theatre. The theatre may be in darkness now for at least 18 months – since closing in January this year with shows and events being staged at the Devonshire Park and Winter Garden in the meantime – but there is plenty going on with an army of contractors refitting the interior and bringing it back to life.

Columnist Annemarie Field and a stack of the theatre's seats

Columnist Annemarie Field and a stack of the theatre's seats

Already all the deep red seats have been removed and the auditorium itself looks as bare as a baby’s proverbial.

I have never been the biggest fan of the Congress with its design and appearance but my love for it grew when the work to replace the weather beaten facade took place so it was a real delight to go inside and see what is happening and the old lady is finally getting a bit of TLC.

Now the debacle of the downland farms sale saga seems to be over after people power won the day and the political handbags have calmed down for a while, can the powers that be now look at spending a few quid and get the Town Hall clock working again.

As a Little Chelsea resident, and even though the hourly strikes still ring out, things just aren’t the same without the familiar chimes every quarter of an hour between 6am and 11pm every day.

Times are tough for schools at the moment with funding cuts looming for primary and secondary schools that could see larger class sizes with fewer teachers and senior staff, school buildings falling into disrepair, outdated computer equipment and fewer subsidised trips and activities. Headteachers locally have taken the step of urging parents to lobby MPs and local authorities to get them to ask the government to stop the cuts and help with the rising costs for schools. There are more details on the Facebook page FlatCashEd and I would urge as many parents as possible to make their voices heard.

Good luck to Matthew 25 Mission volunteers Amy Evensen and Naomi Tregear who are sleeping on the streets this weekend to highlight the plight of homeless people in the town particularly now the night shelter has closed. Officials estimate that since the closure at the end of February of the Winter Night Shelter at churches across Eastbourne, around 35 people are currently sleeping rough in the town. Anyone wishing to help people get off the streets can do so by donating food, cash, clothing or non-perishable items to Matthew 25 at Brodie Hall at Christ Church, Seaside.