Hastings holds moving vigil for the 27 people who lost their lives in the Channel

Around 250 people gathered on The Stade in Hastings Old Town on Thursday evening to take part in a vigil for the 27 people who lost their lives this week when a small boat capsized in the Channel.

Many held lanterns and candles in jars, which were later place around a huge red heart and a ‘Hastings Supports Refugees’ banner, laid out on the ground.

Two periods of silence and reflection took place during the vigil.

There was also anger from speakers, over the tragedy, and strong words directed toward the Government and local MP Sally-Ann Hart. One speaker urged everyone in attendance to email the MP when they returned home and raise concerns about the UK’s hostility toward refugees.

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Speaking at the vigil was Hastings Council Deputy Leader Paul Barnett who said: “People in Hastings are amazing for the care and compassion they show. They work tirelessly and give their time.”

Cllr Barnett said he would be meeting with the local MP and said: “My personal view is that we have a racist Government that drives and promotes hate. We are living in a country that now has more food banks than branches of McDonalds.

He also slammed the French for the way they treat refugees on the other side of the Channel, smashing up their camps.

Cllr Barnett has spent time volunteering in a refugee camp at Dunkirk and said; “I spoke to one man and asked him why he was so determined to come to England and his reply to me was ‘because you are fair’.”

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Rachael Roser, from Hastings Supports Refugees, who spoke at the vigil, said: “Hastings has been amazingly supportive of refugees coming forward with donations of clothing and money.”

Hastings Mayor Cllr James Bacon also attended the vigil.