Eastbourne’s fantastic volunteer groups and small businesses

Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne
Stephen Lloyd MP for Eastbourne

One of Eastbourne and Willingdon’s greatest strengths is its deep sense of community. This is shown by the numerous different volunteer groups serving our town.

They cover a huge range of support activities from care for the carers, dementia and numerous other medical conditions, children with disabilities, all the sport activities you can imagine, numerous church activities, school groups, those helping people less fortunate than ourselves, our theatres, animal protection societies, the much loved Eastbourne RNLI, St Wilfrid’s, and all points in between. The list is virtually endless.

These phenomena are rarely explored in any detail but I profoundly believe they are absolutely crucial to the overall health of our town. Why? Because the very nature of giving of one’s time and expertise with no expectation of monetary gain, is a truly altruistic act.

It may seem small in the grand scale of things but actually it’s hugely significant. Significant in that it shows just how much we care for Eastbourne. Significant in that if so many folk didn’t step up to volunteer, two immediate consequences would occur. Firstly, the entire superstructure which ensures many of our vulnerable neighbours are cared for would collapse as the statutory authorities do not have the wherewithal to cope.

Secondly, we’d be a much less kind town. And though kindness is not a word we hear so much about nowadays, it is utterly pivotal to the overall health of Eastbourne. If you did my job which amongst other things is to meet and work with many community groups, you would be amazed at just how extraordinary they are. You would also be struck by the astonishing fortitude of so many people as they, often, struggle against innumerable barriers to make their volunteer groups a success.

You would also see on a daily basis tremendous acts of kindness toward others, and I never fail to be humbled by their impact.

They are the living, working proof of that old maxim - we keep it by giving it away. And the upside of kindness of course is that we prefer to be around people and communities who wish to support others. It’s simply a nicer environment to live in and bring up one’s family. And in Eastbourne and Willingdon I see it every single day. Thank you to all those of you who volunteer and do so much for our town. The difference for good that you make in the community is simply incalculable.

Small Business Saturday: another one of my jobs which I attach an enormous amount of time and energy to, is supporting our local economy. And small businesses across Eastbourne play an immensely important role in this. It’s about aspiration, energy and helps give our town a genuine ‘can do’ attitude. I love it and believe, in its own way, they are as important to the overall health of Eastbourne and Willingdon as the voluntary groups I’ve already alluded to.

I have lost count of just how many businesses I’ve visited or opened, and every time it’s with a sense of excitement.

This weekend we celebrate Small Business Saturday; an annual event run by the Federation of Small Business, a group I respect and know well. I’ll be out and about as usual at the weekend popping into various shops, large and small, to see people and say hello. So my ask to readers of the Herald is this Saturday, to take in just one extra shop or business, and buy something to show your appreciation for those behind the counter.

It takes courage to step out as a small business and it can be pretty challenging sometimes, so give them a pat on the back. They deserve it.

Town Centre Christmas Market: Do you fancy showcasing your entertaining skills for the crowds this Christmas? If you do, Eastbourne’s Christmas Market, is the place for you. It’s running for three weeks from November 30 every day from 10am to 6pm in Terminus Road. They’ve already got a staggering 100 hours of free entertainment booked and the entertainment co-ordinator,

Leanna Forse has secured choirs, bands, soloists, dancers, circus performers, shows and even an entire festive family pantomime.

However they’ve still some weekday slots to fill so if you fancy the possibility of being in Eastbourne’s X-mas Factor Final, here’s your chance. If you’re part of a choir, a band, or perform on your own, please contact Leanna at Leanna.forse@gmail.com as soon as, to see if you can book one of her few remaining slots.

Also come along and join me and our Devonshire Park Theatre panto stars when we turn on the Christmas lights this Friday evening from around 4.30pm. I promise ‘not’ to sing. Leanna heard my voice and, shockingly, turned down my offer to join her fun-packed entertainment schedule...

That’s it folks. Have a great weekend and I hope to see you around town.