26th November 2014 – AGM, St Augustine’s Hall, Seaside
Last time we were in St Augustine’s Hall, it was one of the hottest days of the year. This one was cold and wet and dark, but nevertheless, there was a good turn out and a successful result.
The AGM included a review of the year, an update on progress, and the ominous warning that Local Trust needed to see a strong team and a full set of executive officers in order to release the first lot of funding. The Board was duly appointed (see full list here) and officers stepped forward: Jane was re-elected as Chair, Heidi took on Vice-Chair (Resources), Nik becomes Vice-Chair (Programmes) and Adrian remains as Finance Officer.
All signed on the dotted line and this goes off to Local Trust (the lottery body) for them to (hopefully) send the money. Watch this space…
21st November 2014 – Bo-Ho-Ho A Curious Bohemian Christmas
Eastbourne’s Christmas season kicked off in Devonshire West with the Bohoho Curious Christmas fair between Leaf Hall and the Crown and Anchor. It was a quirky and crafty bohemian-inspired street market, with artisan stalls, entertainers, stilt walkers and vintage rides, funded and organised by the Devonshire West Big Local team. The Big Local Big Bunny even made a guest appearance, greeting children as they finished their day at Bourne School.
This thoroughly family friendly event included a mini-fairground with traditional organs, an old fashioned sweet vendor selling candy floss and a very jovial Santa in his Boho Grotto taking letters. Over fifty stalls filled the streets and the upstairs rooms of Leaf Hall and The Crown and Anchor, everywhere decorated with retro tin lanterns and boho bunting. The music stage featured a variety of musicians and performers, including actors from the Royal Hippodrome, and the sound of the vibrant Stix Drummers echoed through the wintery chill. Local choir Bourne to Sing led carols, followed by an impromptu sing-along by youngsters from the YMCA.
Local businesses threw themselves in to the spirit of things, several staying open for the evening, and Thayer’s Ice Cream had special offer cones. Devonshire West’s newest trader, Kim from the Card Shop, said she was really excited to be a part of the event. People also enjoyed the opportunity to see the refurbishments at Leaf Hall, and some noticed shops they had not realised were there; other visitors were delighted to discover the area, saying that the event had drawn them in.
It is estimated that 750 people came along, although it was not easy to tell because there were so many ways to enter the site. Jacy Kilvert, who runs the YMCA, said “I have never seen so many people in Seaside.” Devonshire West Big Local had their own little Boho Hub, courtesy of Mencap, and Jane Dubery and Adrian Ley were on hand to talk about the big plans ahead for the first phase of the £1million lottery grant. They were assisted by the Big Local Christmas Elf (Hannah Gausden) dashing between venues and activities, performing a quick wardrobe repair in the grotto.
Local people were delighted to see a Christmas event in Devonshire West. Comments included: “The best Santa we’ve ever taken the kids to” and “What a lovely atmosphere”. Jacqui Stewart, of the DWBL Events Group, said “This event was great on so many levels, many of us gained new skills, made new friends and it was an opportunity for the community to come together – we heard their kind words, we saw them smile and heard them say let’s do it again. Merry Christmas, everyone!”
25th October 2014 – Training day at Sompting Big Local
When the Plan is approved and the Lottery funding is on its way, the DWBL Board will need to be confident that they can manage the money fairly, responsibly and with full accountability. In preparation, a small team of DWBL representatives went to Sompting for a training day covering tendering, procurement and grant schemes.
Yes, these are all as serious and complicated as they sound, but there was also a visit to their Big Local hub. It was a fabulous facility, small but perfectly formed – they have all sorts of weekly activities and a drop-in/information role, and were staffed by a dedicated team of volunteers.
16th October 2014 – Assessment meeting
Make no mistake – it might have had a Big Bunny photocall and some DWBL fairy cakes (courtesy of Jane), but this was a really important meeting.
The Local Trust interviewer already had the Plan (submitted 22nd Sept), and they seemed to like it – she said the fairy tale introduction was funny and original, the data was wide and well analysed, and the strategies were strong. But they needed to meet some of the team and ask some questions. She didn’t hold her punches and grilled us for details. Everything was answered robustly and confidently.
Thanks to all the Devonshire West board members who attended the Big Local Plan assessment meeting with Rachel from Local Trust in the Royal Hippodrome Boardroom on Seaside Road. I think Rachel was really impressed and has gone away with a really clear understanding of your passion for the area. We are hoping to hear back in approximately a fortnight on whether the Plan has been endorsed. Special thanks must go to the plan writers Jane and Adrian, and to Lorna as well for organising the displays.
2nd October 2014 – Partnership Meeting
We also had Sharon McIntyre presenting the Driving Devonshire Forward leaflet – look out for this popping through your letterbox soon.
7th August 2014 – Community meeting (Plan approval)
Some 40 or so people dropped-in to the community drop-in meeting on Thursday 7th August in St Augustine’s Hall behind Christ Church. The Big Local Big Bunny was at the gates to guide the way…
Everyone got the chance to scrutinise the draft Plan, people voted with their sticky dots and put their feedback on post-its. This will all go towards helping the Devonshire West Big Local team make the Plan as strong as possible, reflecting what the community wants. It is only when the team is convinced that the Plan is robust, supported and achievable that it can be sent off to the Local Trust. And it is only when they have scrutinised it and asked all sorts of questions that they can approve it and the money can start coming in to our area.
Remember, this is a resident-led team. Everyone volunteers their time and energy for the benefit of the community, trying to bring this project together in the best way possible. If you would like to be involved, please join in.
12th July 2014 – Mermaids and Mariners in Seahouses Square
Seahouses Square was bedecked with sea shell streamers and fishy bunting for a day of free family fun on Saturday 12th July, organised by Devonshire West Big Local. Some 300 visitors streamed through to play the games and enjoy the music, and about 60 people attended a series of fancy dress workshops at Leaf Hall in the weeks before.
Badge making and street art proved the most popular activities, and chaos reigned around the fish balancing stall. The YMCA band performed with gusto, and it was their members who ran the PA system for the more experienced musicians.
Jacqui Stewart, the events organiser, said: “Devonshire West Big Local is all about building links, collaborating and finding projects or ideas to make the area a better place to live. One of the big things that has come out of all the consultations over the last year or so is that people want community events. They want activities like this to get everyone together and create a good community buzz. So, even though the plan isn’t finished yet, even though the £1million isn’t here yet, this sort of event is already doing the Big Local ideas.” Jacqui was seen during the day cycling up and down to Leaf Hall with a parrot on her shoulder and her pirate hat flying behind her. “The sun shone eventually, and the day was full of smiles and noise. It’s wonderful to see the community come together.”
25th May 2014 – Bonfire Society Street Party
The Marine Parade triangle was closed off and the Bonfire Society invited a range of local businesses and groups to run stalls; there was music and drumming, art and cakes, sowing and seedlings. And glorious sunshine.
The Devonshire West Big Local team had a stall there, telling people about the project and canvassing for more opinions and volunteers. Themes are beginning to take shape and the plan for the first few years will be being drawn up soon. Look out for news.
20th April 2014 – Easter Fair
Residents of Devonshire West Big Local put on a spectacular Easter event for local families at Leaf Hall on Sunday 20th April 2014. Originally planned for Seaside Rec, the event was brought inside at the last minute to avoid the April ‘showers’.