OUT IN THE FIELD: Sorry for offence over church building rant

The lynchpin at the school: Pauline Taylor is given a send-off by staff at St Thomas a Becket
The lynchpin at the school: Pauline Taylor is given a send-off by staff at St Thomas a Becket

Sometimes I make mistakes. And sometimes my fingers tap away at the keyboard and I open my mouth before I have put my brain in gear. Last week I did both and managed to upset a huge swathe of the Eastbourne population when I said it was a shame that the Germans hadn’t had the disused and derelict St Elisabeth’s Church in their sights when they carried out bombing raids in the town. I didn’t mean the existing and thriving St Elisabeth’s Church which sits alongside its namesake in Victoria Drive but a lot of the congregation were upset. In addition, what I didn’t realise at the time of writing was that the old St Elisabeth’s was actually used as a refuge by local people looking for safety during the relentless bombing campaign and there are many among the congregation who remember hiding there during the Second World War. To make matters even worse the article appeared on the morning of the atrocity in Nice when 84 people were killed. My timing and inappropriateness couldn’t have been worse. I am sorry. I have apologised to Vicar David Gillard, am meeting some of those people who sought refuge in the church later this summer so they can share their stories for our Looking Back section. Lastly, I am handing over the bulk of my column this week to church manager Mandy Mulford who called and wrote to me after last Friday. Mandy said, “St Elisabeth’s Church on Victoria Drive, that big ark type building that can be seen from the Downs is derelict and indeed, disused as reported in last week’s Herald. What people don’t see is the real St Elisabeth’s Church next door. With a healthy congregation and a busy community centre St E’s (as it has fondly become known) is far from disused and derelict. Quite the opposite in fact. During the week you will find three different drama groups, Slimming World, Tomboogiers, Brownies and Rainbows, Diddidancers, singing lessons, three different art groups, pilates, Creation Station, the newly launched POD Youth Club and many more. “There are two dedicated community arts workers responsible for visual and performing arts. There is a fully equipped stage with theatre seating for 150. Sundays are busy too with services for the more traditional worshipper and a family service for the more contemporary minded. It can be tough living in the shadow of the old church, people think we are shut! “The fact is, we are right in the heart of a highly populated area of Old Town with many families and schools nearby, we are dedicated to providing a central hub for groups to meet and developing a strong local worshipping community.”

We are packing up at Herald Towers today and moving to offices at Map House in St Leonard’s Road. Farewell to our Berkeley House friends and neighbours at Warren’s Law and Advocacy, Sovereign Cargo and Countrywide Estate Management.

Finally this week, congratulations to the wonderful and lovely Pauline Taylor, who retires after 24 years as receptionist at St Thomas a Becket School and will be sadly missed by staff, parents and children.

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