By George – they had evening to remember

VIP guests meet the bellringers
VIP guests meet the bellringers

The Seahaven Branch of The Royal Society of St George held its annual St George’s Day celebration in Alfriston.

In the company of Mr Peter Field, Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, and Juliet Smith, the High Sheriff, the full congregation at St Andrew’s Church – the Cathedral of the South Downs –saw the church service start at 6pm with bell ringing.

The service that followed was conducted by the branch Chaplain, the Rev David Farrant, and the Rector of St Andrew’s, the Rev Daniel Merceron.

Despite a recent painful operation to a knee, the Standard of St George was carried at the service by Frank Holland.

Only the previous Saturday, accompanied by three committee members, Frank had proudly carried the branch standard at the Royal Society’s annual service at The Cenotaph in Whitehall, followed by the laying of a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey.

Following the service in St Andrew’s, everyone strolled across to Deans Place Hotel where 74 members and friends assembled for a formal dinner.

They were kept in order by toastmaster David Blight. David also supports his wife, Ann, with the running of the Starfish Project which successfully supports recovering stammerers.

Branch Chairman Bob Peedle thanked everyone for coming and welcomed the guests.

He said, “Welcome to you all to a political party and election free zone for this evening. We are here to celebrate England’s National Day, St George’s Day, which also happens to be that great English Bard’s birth and death day – William Shakespeare.”

The Lord Lieutenant replied on behalf of the guests and praised the work of the branch to promote England and all she stands for.

During the evening, Nick Dutt, the chairman of the Charitable Trust of the Royal Society, presented a cheque for £300 to the Air Training Corps from Battle to help with their Squadron exchange trip to Australia next year.

It was received by the CO, Flight Lieutenant Maria Muggridge, who was accompanied by the holder of the Don Mabey MBE Trophy for the best cadet in the Sussex Wing.

He is the first winner of this award as it was given to the Wing last year by the Seahaven Branch of The Royal Society of St George in honour of the late President of the branch, Don Mabey.

Later, the Chairman auctioned two special bottles of wine given by the Vice President, Steve Saunders.

This resulted in £125 being donated to the charity Help for Heroes. A successful raffle followed which added money to the Branch’s funds that can be used to buy useful gifts for local worthwhile projects or charities. After a superb meal and service, the evening was closed by Branch President Laurie Holland, thanking everyone and raising a glass to absent friends.