Following the extraordinary Council meeting I was invited to the Crawley Youth Centre to an evening hosted by A Band of Brothers.
This organisation who originated in Brighton are all male, came to Crawley and recruited Crawley men to form A Crawley Band of Brothers, working with the probation service they offer friendship, mentoring, continuity and guidance to young men who may have found themselves in trouble with the authorities and need encouraging with their skills and confidence to become useful citizens of Crawley.
The evening was a Graduation ceremony for the young men who had completed their 3 month Quest. Their mentors had spent this time working with one young man to try to understand the circumstances that had led to the young man choosing a difficult path. The young men had completed a 3 day residential training, weekly group meetings and weekly 1 - 1 meetings with their mentor and had also climbed Mount Tryffan in Snowdonia.
The understanding that is built up between the mentor and the young person is quite extraordinary and there very clearly develops a very deep bond of mutual respect and affection. Having heard from the mentor about the achievements of the young person, in some cases the young person felt confident enough to say a few words themselves. This in itself was an extraordinary brave step for them to take and Jim and I found the evening extremely moving and encouraging. During the presentations the mentors told us something about themselves and how working with the young man and developed their own skills and strengths. I would like to thank and congratulate A Band of Brothers for the very special work they are doing in our town.
One day to the next as Mayor of Crawley is so different. My next invitation was to attend the Finals of the Sussex Food & Drink awards at Brighton football stadium at the invitation of Almara and Sadique Miah from the Zari’s Restaurant in Ifield, who were one of three finalists in the best Eating establishment in Sussex. A wonderful seven course meal celebrated was a Gourmets delight using produce sourced from the very best in Sussex. Several other categories of awards were presented before we came to the big decision for us, sadly Zari’s did not win this year, but to have been the first Indian Restaurant ever to reach the finals in such a prestigious competition is an amazing achievement for Almara and Sadique, their fantastic Chef and staff, a great acknowledgement of all their hard work and also for the part they play in the community of Crawley supporting various organisations around the town.
Most of my functions this week were centred around food and Friday was no exception when we attended a murder mystery evening hosted by the Town Mayor of East Grinstead as a fundraising evening for his charity. We experienced local fish and chip shop providing the supper. It was a great surprise when our table were successful in naming the murderer and the reason although we were slightly out with the weapon.
Saturday lunchtime Jim and I enjoyed a visit to the Badminton Association Championships at K2. This was my first experience of seeing live badminton at this level is so surprised by the speed and strength of the players and just what a hard and competitive game it is. There was an extremely good crowd in attendance watching the matches and the following day I believe the final games were extremely exciting. Once again Crawley was proud to host such a prestigious event and we would be very pleased to welcome the Badminton Association back to Crawley in future
On Saturday evening we had great pleasure in attending the ATC XIX Squadron Annual dinner dance held in the Crawley TA Drill Hall. The drill had been transformed into an attractive dining area by the parents committee of the squadron and a very pleasant and interesting evening with good food and company was enjoyed by all. XIX Squadron are extremely proud of their pipe and drum band although they did not play this evening I have had the pleasure of seeing them in action last year. I look forward to seeing the cadets in action at other events throughout the coming year. I have a warm affinity with XIX Squadron, my son Mark was an air cadet many years ago before entering the RAF for 13 years of service.
A short hiatus was caused in my round of events this week, when I had a cataract from my eye. I was very pleased to be able to attend at Leacroft Surgery on Thursday evening, to reopen the surgery in Langley Green after the disastrous storm of December 2013. The partners and staff and I’m sure the patients are delighted to be back home in Langley Green and once again offering their excellent service to their patients. The building has been restored to its former glory and all the previous services will be available again. I was very happy to add my congratulations and good wishes to the partners the doctors and all the staff for their perseverance in maintaining a service for their patients under very difficult circumstances. My week ended with a slightly sad occasion when I said goodbye to the Director of Leisure services at the Borough Council, Phil Rogers and thank him for his service to Crawley over the past 17 years. I wish Phil a happy retirement and now have the time to pursue some of his own personal interests.
Last event of the week, I attended at Crawley Railway Station, at the Invitation of Vanessa Cumper and the Station Master, to join them, children from the Gatwick school, representatives of other organisations including Crawley Museum Society, to view some extraordinary murals and works of art that have been produced by various groups in and around Crawley. It was extremely cold and windy and sadly one of the mural had been blown onto the railway line and run over by a train. Unfortunately this forced the Station Master to have to remove many of the other murals for safety reasons. It is hoped that a more permanent display of the murals can be made in the booking hall in the near future. I sincerely hope this can be done so that once again Crawley can revel in the skills of our children and other artists, who have produced some extremely unusual and yet Crawley centric murals. Thank you Vanessa for organising this event and bringing together so many different groups to produce some terrific work.