Eastbourne Life with Graham Walker: Living by the Sea... and a plug for the fantastic Eagles!

Graham Walker
Graham Walker

“If you live by the sea you need to spend lots of time enjoying it” said my ten year old son. He was excited, happy and tired after three hours of windsurfing under the supervision of the fantastic folks at Spray Watersports. My younger son, only eight, was also full of energy as he chattered about his first time sailing single handedly at sea. My boys love going to Spray. The other kids I see there seem to like it as much as my mine do. And the parents I speak to seem unanimous in their praise of David and Craig who run Spray with such laid back efficiency.

Adults can learn to sail or windsurf at Spray too. In fact, right now I’m on the hunt for three or four adults who want to learn to sail and do some social racing on Sunday mornings. Drop me a line if you are interested. But even if that’s not for you then take it from me that Spray Watersports is a local diamond of a facility that we should all be proud of. Getting more of us out on the sea as well as looking at it has got to be a good thing!

A recent survey suggested that older people are starting to choose to retire to inland rural villages rather than coastal towns. The two main reasons given for this trend were cheaper property prices and the benefits of small town community life. Another trend, although one for which I only have anecdotal evidence from friends and work colleagues, is that more families with young children are making the decision to move to Eastbourne and other coastal towns. The sea, the sunshine, good schools, growing contemporary art scenes and an escape from the rat race seem to be main drivers for this group.

I moved for the sea and a more outdoor life. It’s as simple as that. The more connection I have with the sea the happier I am. Being by the sea or out on it makes life feel different. It helps put everything else into perspective. It doesn’t matter what I am doing. Whether I am walking or cycling on the Downs, walking along the promenade, or taking my old wooden boat out for a sail or a spot of fishing. The sea does it for me. The sun and the fresh air are just added bonuses!

If the trend of young professionals with families continues, and I am confident than it will, it will bring with it new businesses and employment opportunities for young people in Eastbourne. We have a thriving local tourist industry with more than four million tourists each year. But perhaps less well known is that we have a growing band of people working in the creative, digital and technology industries. More than fifty people turned up for the first creative and digital networking event in February and I hope we can double this for the next event in May.

I’m proud of my association with Eastbourne Can, a group a local people who love Eastbourne and want to make it even better. I am constantly amazed at how much people are prepared to do for the town on a voluntary basis. More than voluntary as often the members are putting their hands in their own pockets for rooms, refreshments, posters and the like. In recent weeks, the folks at Eastbourne Can have run a highly successful Wish Tower Restaurant ‘Design Day’ to make sure that the community has a strong voice in the new development for this site. And perhaps even better, the launch of a local town centre ‘Spruce up Squad’, a set of volunteers willing to clean up and do positive things, such as set up local art displays, in our empty shops. Already more than forty people have volunteered. The target is to get a hundred volunteers so that it isn’t the same people doing the work and that a ‘Spruce up Squad is always available whenever needed. So if you fancy doing something practical and positive for the town and having a bit of fun and meeting some new people then go to www.eastbournecan.com/spruceup

Finally, I have had two fantastic family evenings out at the Eastbourne Eagles speedway stadium at Arlington. I urge you all to go to check it out if you haven’t been before. A great night out watching some of the world’s best speedway riders racing for your local team in a lovely friendly atmosphere. Lewis Bridger, of the Eagles most aggressive and competitive riders is fast becoming an idol for my two boys. And two wins, the most recent a nail biter against Kings Lynn, have sent us all home happy. This is elite sport right on your doorstep. Give it a go and get behind our local Eagles! Their next fixture is against Lakeside at 7.45pm on Good Friday.