Monday, 31 January 2011

Hastings - the place to be

Out  in the Hastings Country Park
Struggling through the council’s budget-setting process it has been easy to forget that outside the confines of the Town Hall there is a whole borough with all the richness and interest that we all treasure. This last weekend I was able to savour just some of what makes Hastings such a special place.

On Saturday morning I attended the Holocaust Memorial Service which the council sponsors. Although part of a national and international commemoration what brought it to life was the link to people and families living here in Hastings.

The theme of this year’s event was ‘Untold Stories’. One story was told for the first time by someone I have known for many years but what he recounted was totally unknown to me. As a Jew his own grandmother was a victim of the Nazi’s persecution. The family had moved around German-speaking Europe trying to find safety. His mother spent much of the war in Holland in hiding from their persecutors. His grandfather had found work in Britain but never saw his wife again.

Then a more contemporary story was told about the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s. The former Bishop of Cyangugu in Rwanda spoke vividly of the horror of mass murder usually carried out by machete. And he is now living in Battle.

As a contrast in the afternoon I wrapped up well for a walk in our great Country Park where perhaps some of those moving personal experiences from the morning could be put at the back of one’s mind. It might have been cold but the views are always stunning – glimpsing the harbour arm as it peeks out beyond the cliffs and glens or just looking out on the empty vastness of the Channel.

I then called in for the second half of Hastings United latest game and unfortunately latest defeat but the banter with staff and supporters is always a winner.

Saturday evening I was in Gurkha Palace being well looked after as usual by Bijay and co.

Sunday I was in our refurbished Falaise gym. Then in the evening I went to the Electric Palace cinema where I think I knew half the audience. The Electric Palace does a brilliant job bringing us films that don’t always get shown on general release in our local mainstream cinemas.

I finished the evening in a High Street pub chatting to Old Town residents and business people who were really positive about the future for Hastings.

When you can enjoy all this in just one weekend who would want to live anywhere else