HELEN BURTON: The pier, and the importance of volunteers

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001

This week I attended two events being held by Sheikh Abid Gulzar. The first was a reception at the end of the pier to see the new function rooms that have all been renovated.

The reception was held in the Ocean Suite, a large room with a dance floor and its own bar, which is at the very end of the pier and has gorgeous views of the sea and seafront. During the evening we were then shown the Victoria, Albert and Alice Suites which have all been refurbished and could be used for various events, from meetings to parties. The Sheikh talked about the work on the pier and made it clear that he wants the pier to be for the whole community. I must say it is looking great now and I love the picnic tables everywhere, they make it possible for anyone to go and meet with friends or family and enjoy the space.

As I was waiting for my Dad to pick me up after the event I spent some time people watching and I couldn’t help but notice what an added attraction the Sheikh’s car has become too. More people took photos of the car than the Carpet Gardens!

On Friday Mr G invited 150 volunteers to a free afternoon tea at one of his hotels, the Boship Lions Hotel in Hailsham. He wanted to celebrate Volunteers Week by showing his appreciation to local volunteers. 13.8 million people volunteer regularly in this country and the Office for National Statistics estimates the value of this work to be 23.9 billion pounds annually. Volunteers are vital to our communities and it was lovely for local volunteers to have their valuable contribution to society recognised in this way. Whilst thanking volunteers Mr G spoke of his own commitment to charity. He supports many local causes and often holds events to raise money for charity. One of the speeches was from a 97-year-old volunteer in the Lions Club who had been volunteering for 51 years – an impressive commitment. The afternoon was a great opportunity to talk to other volunteers and find out about other local projects, and of course there were quite a few Pevensey Volunteers there too!

The Sheikh invited us to enjoy the grounds of the hotel after the event and one of my fellow volunteers and I enjoyed a walk around the lakes and gardens, although we didn’t manage the whole 17 acres! I attended a wedding there a few years ago so it was lovely to see what has been done. The grounds are now occupied by many inhabitants, from gold painted hippo statues to real alpacas. I loved the rheas (also real) as they had beautiful blue eyes and were fascinating to watch. Mr G hopes to hold regular events at the hotel to raise money for charity and I would certainly love to attend a good barbecue there (as long as there were vegan options of course)! Well done Mr G, it’s lovely to see the importance of volunteers being recognised.