Anger over cancelled fundraiser at Redoubt

Redoubt Fortress
Redoubt Fortress

An angry author says he has had to cancel a Land Army fundraiser after the venue he chose moved the goalposts weeks before the event was due to go ahead.

John Thrower had set a date of April 27 to include music, celebrity appearances and the chance for the Land Army girls who meet in Eastbourne to attend the event to be held at the Redoubt Fortress. The Pevensey Bay resident, who recently had his book ‘The Story of a Land Army Girl’ published, had been meeting with the group to pen a second book about their stories during the war.

After learning many of them could not afford to go to a reunion he decided to organise a fundraiser and had enlisted the help of Peter Hewsen, who was the lead singer and founder of the band Chicory Tip, who had organised for some well-known faces to make an appearance.

It was Mr Hewsen’s mother, Laura Hewsen, who Mr Thrower interviewed to pen ‘The Story of a Land Army’ girl. Fifty per cent of the royalties of his Land Army books go into a fund for the Land Army Girls. Mr Thrower, who said Eastbourne Silver Band had offered to play for free at the event , said he received an email to say the day was turning into a ‘rather large event’ which hadn’t originally been agreed on.

But the 66-year-old said he had made several plans for the day and had outlined this clearly. He said he was first in touch with the council – which owns the Redoubt Fortress – and then spoke to a representative at the Redoubt and explained his plans.

He said, “I’m very angry with the council, I had organised for the mayor and MP to come. I think the girls are wonderful and they don’t have a lot of money, the idea was to put this on to raise funds. We had organised paramedics and supervisors so the whole thing would run smoothly.”

The email said that while the book signing and talk by the land girls was in keeping with what the Redoubt is about the other entertainment did not fit in with the museum and its programming for the 2013 season.

But Mr Thrower said the venue had been used this month where live music was a key part of that event.

Mr Hewsen added, “I’m so disappointed that a local authority can make a decision like that on no basis.”

Tracey McNulty, senior head of tourism & leisure, said, “We have an incredible year of events planned at the Redoubt and when Mr Thrower approached us to use the venue for a book signing and talk, we were delighted to offer him the venue completely free of charge as we felt it would be a fascinating historical event, supporting our plans for the Redoubt as a living museum for all the community.

“However the later requests for this to be accompanied by variety acts and live music were not able to be accommodated, as they would be costly to steward and we couldn’t see how they suited the era.

“We are attracting new audiences and are keen to introduce new experiences in keeping with the profile of the venue and the enjoyment of the many other visitors attending the museum during events. We confirmed to Mr Thrower on 15 March that we are happy to provide free venue hire for a book signing and talk, but have still to receive a response.”