Busy Christmas time round Crawley

Mayor's column
Mayor's column

My duties continue to be hectic just now, but with lots of lovely Christmas events.

I always enjoy visiting schools and it was a particular pleasure to attend and present attendance certificates for Junior Neighbourhood watch to pupils at Desmond Anderson School. The children had taken part in a six week after school course to learn how to keep themselves And their families safe. Children are much more observant than adults and the skills they learned on the course will stay with them for many years. The pupils told us their favourite parts of the course and all agreed that they had enjoyed the course.

I am very grateful to the volunteers who give their time to take these courses and encourage the children to be safe.

On Thursday I was invited to Lloyds Bank Branch in The Broadway to support their Tea, Tinsel and Talk event, in support of Alzheimer’s Society, staff had made a lovely array of cakes and tea and coffee was on offer for a donation to the funds. Lloyds bank has supported Alzheimer’s Society as its corporate charity for a couple of years their target of £2.5 million was doubled in the first year and they are looking forward to hearing the final sum at the end of this year.

The afternoon took us to St. Catherine’s Hospice to turn on their Christmas Trees and light decorations.

Quite a crowd of staff, patients, family and friends gathered in anticipation of the switch on whilst enjoying mulled wine and mince pies. The Hospice Chaplain welcomed everyone and handed over to me. Without a button or a lever, as I spoke the words “It gives me great pleasure to turn on the St Catherine’s Hospice Christmas lights “ magically the lights came on, both inside and outside the building. The hospice has touched many families and lives in and around Crawley and we are privileged to have such a caring facility in our Town. Unfortunately the hospice is not funded by the NHS and relies on fundraising and donations to provide the wonderful care to patients and families. Their annual Tree of Light and Remembrance Service at K2 attracts hundreds of people each year.

My next function was a new experience for me, a Charity Christmas Street Fayre with snow! As the skies did not oblige the organisers had arranged for snow machines, to create a really festive feeling, and of course the children loved it and just got covered in white foamy stuff, hot mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and stall selling a lovely array of Christmas decorations and gifts. Carols played in the lovely setting of Ifield Street. Organised by the Ifield Chestnut House, this year they were raising money for St Margaret’s School Ifield SEN unit and Colgate School SEN unit.

Another huge thank you to Gary and his team of volunteers raising funds for special needs.

Next it was off to Deerswood Lodge Care Home in Ifield, for their Christmas fair and a tour of the home. Nice comfortable rooms and lounges, friendly kind and caring staff, we were warmly welcomed.

Later in the evening, Jim and I were guests of the Crawley Portuguese Association at their Christmas Dinner and Social evening. This was a return to see old friends as I had attended their Summer event, almost 200 people sat down to a traditional Portuguese dinner, with sausage and vegetable soup.

Cod and potato pie with a rich creamy sauce followed by a mango cream mousse dessert, all delicious. Local talent provided the entertainment and special guests from the Portuguese Embassy attended. Another warm and welcoming event, with signing and music. It is so nice to be invited to these wonderful community events.

I was so pleased to attend the Alzheimer’s Society Christmas Carol Concert at St Margaret’s Church Ifield. The 2nd time St Margaret’s has hosted this event, and it proved to be just as much fun and happiness again this year. Christmas Readings and Poems were read by members of the Crawley Forward Thinking Group, all whom are living well with dementia, and who planned the concert with their support worker Tim Wilkins.

This was followed in the church by the monthly De-Cafe meeting with loads of refreshments and Christmas goodies. A large congregation sung the familiar Carols, led by the High Sheriff Jonathan Lucas and his wife Carolyne.