On the 11th I visited Kathleen Woolledge at Barton Lodge to celebrate her 100th birthday the following day. Patrick and I managed a week away following that and the day after our return it was back to work with the launch of the Marine Restaurant in Milford on Sea. The following night it was a charity evening at the Rivaaz Restaurant in New Milton in aid of the British Heart Foundation. Ebad and his team put on a wonderful evening and I was even pressed into taking part in some traditional Indian dancing.
On the Saturday evening we had the New Milton Lions Club Anniversary Dinner to mark 40 years since they were awarded their Charter. A lovely evening in excellent company. I cannot praise the Lions, Rotary and Round Table organisations highly enough for the work they do within our community. They are also backed up by the other bands of volunteers who work tirelessly to raise funds for those in need.
On Friday 29th I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Les Evans who was celebrating his 102nd birthday. A lovely gentleman who was great fun to chat with and who keeps very up to date with current affairs. Madeleine Newland and his neighbours arranged a surprise party and kindly invited me to attend. It was a very jolly time and I must pay tribute to Mr Evans’ neighbours for the way in which they all look out and care for each other in their road. It really is what community spirit is all about.
November has been a busy month and full of variety. It began with delivering a card to the Advertiser and Times offices for Charles Curry’s 90th birthday on the 3rd. Charles was not there as he was enjoying an aeroplane flight over New Milton which was a surprise present from his family. I don’t know about anybody else but I think that the A&T is a marvellous paper – full of local news and I cannot imagine not having it. Even when I was working away from home in my youth I still had a copy sent up every week from home.
On Saturday 6th I had a personally, very special, engagement when I was asked to dedicate the new seat at Long Meadow to the memory of ‘The Grove’. For those of you who do not know, The Grove was a much loved, and very much missed, maternity unit in Barton on Sea. It was closed down in 1988 following cutbacks, just short of what would have been it’s 60th anniversary. It was lovely to see Joan Knott again who had been ‘matron’ there from 1975 and also catch up with some of the ‘girls’ who I had been on the Grove Action Committee with when we fought to save it.
On Sunday 7th , I dropped by the 100th birthday celebrations of Mr ‘Jack’ Gibson at the Cliff House Hotel in Barton on Sea. Again, a wonderful gentleman with a lovely, caring group of family and friends.
Tuesday 9th saw a visit to CODA Music Trust at Walkford to wish them well in their bid for funding from the ITV Peoples’ Millions. Cllrs Nick & Gillian Geary, the Mayor and Mayoress of Christchurch were also in attendance.
The following evening it was the opening of the ASBOC café in New Milton. Unfortunately I was again suffering from laryngitis and couldn’t attend but it is a tribute to the hard work of all of those involved that this much needed facility is now up and running.
Remembrance Sunday on the 14th was a very special and moving event. Despite the persistent rain the people of New Milton turned out in force. The organisations represented the everything from war veterans to the young people of the town. I was very proud to march alongside them all up the main street and on to the Memorial Hall where a service of remembrance took place. To mark the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Old Milton Road my fellow councillor, Goff Beck, researched the event and a series of pictures showing the damage caused was enhanced with personal memories from people who were caught up in the attack. It was a very moving and thought provoking service with a significant contribution from the youth of the town.
Monday 15th was the meeting between New Milton Town Council and Arnewood Youth Council and I presented badges to the new members of the Youth Council before handing over the chair to my deputy, Cllr Alan O’Sullivan as I was still suffering from laryngitis.
Fortunately by Sunday 21st my voice was back as I had organised a meeting of the Mayors of Lymington, Christchurch and myself representing New Milton to a guided walk around Lymington. The three towns all share much common history and, as a guide with Lymington Town Tours I asked Helen Theobald and Roland Stott to help me with this walk. It was bitterly cold but we all managed to thaw out afterwards in a local hostelry ! It is scheduled to do the same thing around Christchurch in the Spring at the kind invitation of the Mayor and Mayoress of Christchurch.
On a very cold morning I presented myself at the new LIDL store at 7.30 am. Despite the cold people were already queuing in anticipation of the opening at 8am. Dave Thomas showed me around the site. The design of the building was specially conceived for the location and sits very well on the site. The store itself was bright and airy and, once the ribbon was cut, was soon full of shoppers. I think that New Milton now very firmly earned its reputation as ‘the place to shop’ within our area.
Saturday 27th saw two engagements beginning with the Neighbourcare AGM at 10am. A wonderful organisation headed up by Phyllis Inglis and Ted Horne which offers reasonably priced transportation for the elderly and disabled to and from medical appointments. They, along with many other organisations, are feeling the burden of the current economic downturn along with restrictive legislation. However, they continue to remain positive and committed to their much needed role within our community.
I then went to the ‘44’ Manor Road where the Contemplation Group have just opened their newest house which caters for those with physical and mental disabilities. The conversion of the property has been to the highest of standards and they really have created a ‘home from home’ atmosphere. It was great fun meeting staff and clients alike and opening their Christmas Fair.