High Sheriff amazed by dedication of Petworth volunteers

During his visit to Petworth on Thursday, October 19, the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Mr Andy Bliss QPM, said he was impressed by the volunteers who support the amazing number of initiatives in the Petworth district, and who put so many hours into making Petworth a supportive, enjoyable and creative community.
Petworth Cottage Museum was a stop for the High SheriffPetworth Cottage Museum was a stop for the High Sheriff
Petworth Cottage Museum was a stop for the High Sheriff

The day began at the Petworth Community Garden with Kate and Richard Green, with transformational stories of clients who are finding companionship, restoration and wholeness while tending the prolific array of garden plants. Similarly, the Men’s Shed with the creative objects they make.

At the Sylvia Beaufoy Centre the High Sheriff met the youth club staff, Dan Sneller – senior youth and community development manager, Karen Cheesman – charity manager and trustee – Eileen Lintill. Also Martin and Helen Taylor of the 1st Petworth Scouts, headmaster John Galvin and the school ambassadors from Petworth C of E Primary School, Amy from the Wakoos Nursery with a wonderful group of pupils and Lauren from Kaleidoscope Pre-School. Andy Bliss listened intently to each as they shared the variety of learning experiences on offer.

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Coffee was kindly provided at the Petworth Park Sports Pavilion, where the High Sheriff was welcomed by trustee Alan Copus who introduced Oliver Gilchrist of Petworth Park Cricket Club, Rob Torode of Petworth Football Club, Michael Crawley of Petworth Lawn Tennis Club and representatives of the Petworth Bowls Club, Peter and Sue Miles.

The High Sheriff at a reception at Petworth Library during his visit to the townThe High Sheriff at a reception at Petworth Library during his visit to the town
The High Sheriff at a reception at Petworth Library during his visit to the town

At midday Andy arrived at the Petworth Centre of Chichester District Foodbank at the United Reformed Church. The operations co-ordinator, Midhurst and Petworth, Ines Garcia and Joanne Kondabeka CEO, showed him around the food store room and box packing area and introduced volunteers Jude Sennitt, Julie Reagan from the store management and box packing team and Sara Bennie, deliveries and kids holiday lunch pack co-ordinator and Jenny Elliot, one of the client contact and the sign posting team. Maureen Purser represented the United Reformed Church and Petworth Area Churches Together and their PACT Friday Coffee Morning and Fr Mark Gilbert, St Marys C. of E. Caroline Stoneman, who heads up several initiatives... The Friendship Centre, Petworth & District Lunch Club & The Petworth Community Minibus, enthusiastically shared the work that she and her teams provide, and Yvonne Stout described the valuable work of the Petworth Cottage Nursing Home.

Co-Founder of the Petworth Centre of the Chichester District Foodbank, John Riddell, who accompanied Andy Bliss for the day, hosted a delicious lunch at The Angel Inn, where foodbank staff were joined by chair of the town council, councillor Liz Singleton, retiring chair of the Petworth Business Association, Sally Matson and Carolyn Pearce of Market Town Developments.

Sally Matson, then led the High Sheriff on a tour of town businesses, before arriving at the Petworth Cottage Museum with chair of Trustees Gordon Stephenson and volunteers, who used their extensive research of cottage life during the time when Mrs Cummings was the resident and whose husband worked in the stables of Petworth House.

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As the day ended, a tasty array of cakes with tea and coffee were served at the Petworth Library, the venue for a reception hosted by WSCC Libraries, represented by Gareth Edmunds, and Petworth Town Council.

The High Sheriff visited the town’s foodbankThe High Sheriff visited the town’s foodbank
The High Sheriff visited the town’s foodbank

Welcoming the High Sheriff were PTC's chair, Cllr Liz Singleton, Sasha Lines, Clerk to PTC, Cllr Daisy Daynes, Cllr Richard Mayger, Cllr Juliet Fynes, Cllr Patricia Hewlett. Apologies were given by local district councilor, Harsha Desai, but Chichester District Council was represented by leader Cllr Adrian Moss and Cllr John Cross (Fittleworth), the deputy chair.

West Sussex county councillor Janet Duncton was there to greet the High Sherriff together with other invited guests, including Sue Rhodes of The National Trust, visitor and operations manager at Petworth House, who showed the strong link between the town and the visitor experience. Leconfield Estate’s agent, Simon Knight was present, as were Tony Sneller and Barry Flannaghan of The Coultershaw Heritage Trust and Petworth Society's Mike Mulcahy were able to inspire a very enthusiastic High Sheriff, who delights in exploring the history of West Sussex. Petworth Vision committee member Michael Smith, spoke of the initiatives being explored and introduced by PV.

Vikki Wood, chair of Petworth and District Community Association, described their work with the Hampers Green Bonfire and Firework Display (Saturday, November 4) and the annual Fete in the Park (June 29, 2024).

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The wealth of Petworth's artistic gift was represented by chair of the Petworth Festival, Neal Franks and Petwer Drummond of the Petworth Fringe, Petworth Town Band with Martyn and Paula Streeter, Rachel Townsend of the Leconfield Singers and Petworth Chorus by Tom Colwell. Ricia Hewlett of Petworth in Bloom, with her team, was pleased to tell Andy Bliss, they obtained a Gold Award once again, this year for the fourth time.

The High Sheriff at the Sylvia Beaufoy CentreThe High Sheriff at the Sylvia Beaufoy Centre
The High Sheriff at the Sylvia Beaufoy Centre

Andy Bliss, though quite weary after such a busy day, said he found the day very encouraging and was delighted to have met so many people willing to take on responsibility for the wellbeing of the town.

John Riddell, who organised the day, said he was pleased to be able to introduce so many participants and was grateful for their co-operation which made the day such a success.

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