CAROLINE ANSELL MP: More in common than that which divides

After airlifting 15,000 people to safety in two weeks, I pay tribute to our military personnel and all those who worked with them in Afghanistan, and at home, who worked 24/7 to make this possible.

Afghanistan was certainly spoken about all around the constituency this Bank Holiday weekend where I had a full three days of engagements meeting and greeting people and enjoying the cultural and sports events and festivals we have here.

Some of the highlights included a celebration of diversity at Willingdon Trees Community Centre. There was music, art, food, children’s activity and lots of good conversations. The wonderful Hampden Park Shed, which I visited in May, donated arts and craft materials. It was a great event to bringing people together and recognising the truth that we all have so much in common than anything that divides us.

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I also spoke at the Tommy Tomlin Memorial event at Eastbourne Rugby Club. This Royal Marine veteran and rugby player was a much-loved local figure. He fought lung cancer with his customary bravery and passed away when so many of his friends couldn’t travel. It was an event Tommy would very much have enjoyed, especially the fancy dress! It was good to speak to veterans, families and to club officials about a big uptake in the number of junior players.

I popped over to the Devonshire Quarter too for the Music for Rooftops event. This was a premier of melodies from Eastbourne composer Clive Whitburn and it was performed by internationally acclaimed Onyx Brass. A new experience for me!

The Festival of Accessible Sport in Princes Park organised by Defiant Sports was a new experience for Eastbourne. There were a great number of local groups – information and campaign work designed to get everyone active.

It was great to speak to Liz at Eastbourne Access Group and Jenny at Dementia Friends. I had a go at adaptive archery but declined the chance for some boxing! 

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Continuing the sports theme was a fundraiser at Willingdon Golf Club in aid of the Friends of Eastbourne Hospital. It was organised by the wonderful Don and Abbey McPhee.

There was another town first in Eastbourne’s Vintage Festival in Gildredge Park – an event with film, music, food, fashion and furnishings. It showcased the work of lots of our local organisations like Chaseley Trust and groups like Plastic Free Eastbourne.

I don’t remember a busier Bank Holiday but time has already moved swiftly on with September’s big ‘Back to School’.

I’ve written to our primary schools to ask them to nominate a child to represent Eastbourne and Willingdon for the Children’s Virtual Parliament. This event, sponsored by Microsoft and Wakelet, is taking place on Friday October 29. 

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It is being organised ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow. It will give children the chance to debate issues relating to climate change, with some time also dedicated to other issues such as COVID-19 and technology. 

It will be a ‘first past the post election’, so the first school to get their nomination to me will be duly elected!