Eastbourne & Willingdon's Profound Sense of Community: Your response to my request for Christmas presents for those elderly and frail people in the DGH and in the community who would be on their own and not be receiving any presents on Christmas Day, was nothing short of sensational. Over 200 gifts were donated along with well over 300 individual gifts of Xmas nibbles. The feedback since from our wonderful NHS nurses both in the hospital and in the community who delivered the gifts on the day to their patients, has been just heartwarming to hear. The sheer difference to so many individual's day that your generosity made possible. Over the last few days I've had relayed back to me lovely stories of how peoples' whole face lit up when they received their surprise present. Just magnificent. My office team had also added a handwritten card to every single gift saying 'Happy Christmas, from Eastbourne' and that's exactly what it was. Thank you all for your kind support.
And of course my initiative was just the tip of the iceberg for what our town does over the Christmas period. I know that there were dozens of other similar acts of generosity across the community, which is why I am sure our town really does get that wise old maxim, "that to keep what you have, you must first give it away." Be it Eastbourne Rotary organising Christmas lunch for their home-alone guests at Our Lady of Ransom or Don and Abby McPhee's brilliant Variety Show on behalf of the Mayors two charities, Embrace and Rebourne Corner, at the Willingdon Golf Club a day or two before Christina's Day, or on the day itself at our beautiful Bandstand where there were plenty of volunteers collecting for Eastbourne Cancer Research and St Wilfred's; all these and so much more would have been going on across the community over the last week. I am absolutely convinced it is one of our town's core strengths - the commitment and passion to serve others, to put out our hand to help someone in need. And that is my New Year's message, my friends. We live in challenging times at the minute, of course we do. We can all see that, but if we approach 2018 with optimism and a continuing desire to help others less fortunate than ourselves, along with a continuing love and appreciation for our lovely Eastbourne. You know what - I believe we'll be just fine!
Happy New Year, folks, and I hope to see you around town.