Friends of Hospices group’s festival to celebrate 21 years of offering help

Marion Shepherd DL, Vice Chair of Friends of Sussex Hospices (centre) with hospicetality volunteers SUS-160709-110727001
Marion Shepherd DL, Vice Chair of Friends of Sussex Hospices (centre) with hospicetality volunteers SUS-160709-110727001

A thousand people celebrated the 21st birthday of a Sussex hospice charity at a spectacular event, Festival 21.

This marked the anniversary of Friends of Sussex Hospices, which includes Eastbourne’s St Wilfrid’s, and brought together volunteers and supporters of all 12 Sussex hospice care providers that the fundraising group supports.

The stage featured dazzling performances by a dance troupe from Slovakia, the Pendyrus Male Choir from Wales, the Brighton College Swing Band, The Hurst College Dancers, and Royal Academy singing sensation Josh Beard. The Swamp Circus also entertained and there was a funfair. Unfortunately, poor weather meant that the Great War Display Team airshow by World War One aircraft could not take place.

Despite the deteriorating weather as the evening progressed, a stoic crowd braved the rain to watch the Story of Sussex light show projected onto the façade of Danny House, Hurstpierpoint, followed by a moving moment of reflection which paid tribute to all involved in hospice care. Images of loved ones who had received hospice care scrolled up the house and into the night sky. The finale was a magnificent laser light show which dazzled and rewarded those who remained.

FSH, which has raised and distributed £1.6 million, prides itself on being run entirely by volunteers and around 150 attended the event. Eighty provided tea and cake in the “hospicetality” tent, while an army of volunteers from the Sussex 4x4 Response team, Newhaven & Seaford Sea Cadets and classic car enthusiasts from The Mini Moke Club also lent a hand.

FSH Chair, Kathy Gore said, “Despite the weather, the atmosphere throughout was magical, thanks to the energy and enthusiasm shown by everyone involved. It was wonderful to see all the staff and volunteers from the different hospices working together, testament, if it were needed, to their generosity of spirit. So many lives are touched by hospice care and it was great to be able to pay tribute to all involved in delivering that care.

“We are grateful to Richard Burrows, owner of Danny House for generously making his house and grounds available to us, to David Arnold and Bob Mayston who organised it so brilliantly.”