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Families gathered at Bulverhythe recreation ground on Saturday (25 February) for the grand opening of Sophie’s Play Space Combe Valley, a new play park on the recreational fields in Combe Valley, St Leonards on Bexhill Road.

The idea for the play park was conceived by the Bexleigh, Hythe, Abbey Residents Association (BHARA). BHARA formed in 2013 to address issues affecting the local community with an aim to make improvements to the neighbourhood.Children climbing IMG_7071

BHARA teamed up with Hastings Borough Council’s Play Hastings and Parks teams who secured funding from many organisations including the Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund, Tesco Bags of Help, Hastings Borough Council, The Foreshore Trust, Hastings Borough Council’s Small Grant Funding, Jag Community Safety Funding, The Lions Club, Police Property Act Fund, Hastings Round Table and Hastings Direct.

“Better play provision in this area was identified at Neighbourhood Watch meetings in 2012 and since then the local community and partners led by BHARA have made it happen”, said Cllr Dawn Poole the council’s lead member for play.

“It’s really great news that this play space is now open and ready for all to use. Our thanks must go to all partners, council staff and our contractors Eibe play and Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Project. We encourage everyone in the area to go along and make use of all the fantastic play equipment” she added.

Secretary of BHARA, Delia Spears commented: “We are so grateful to our community and all the funders that have made this dream a reality. Well done to all the play project team for their hard work and persistence. This play space has taken four years to achieve and is the first of our many community projects”.


The Checkatrade.com Expo returns to the  Azur at the Marina Pavilion in St. Leonards on sea on Friday 17th March starting at 10am.

This year’s event will be attended by the Chairman of East Sussex County Council, The Mayor of Eastbourne and the founder and CEO of the Checkatrade.com group of companies Kevin Byrne.

Checkatrade.com is the official partner to East Sussex Trading Standards Authority  and are proud to have a presence in the County.

The Checkatrade.com group of companies are responsible for contributing  £2.8 Billion pounds per annum to the UK economy.

The event is a B2B, B2C, B2G and B2E  event and will boast other high profile visitors throughout the day.

All day networking combined with the latest products and services on offer makes the Checkatrade.com Expo the ideal event to attend if you are in the trade.

We’ve also been told that there are a few exhibition stands remaining and a high media presence confirmed so if you want to be part of the bigger, better and bolder  Checkatrade.com Expo then contact Lord Brett McLean for further details.

If you’re thinking about setting up or moving your business to St. Leonards on Sea, Hastings or Eastbourne and are looking for the minimum of hassle in set up and want ongoing management then check out this video to see why having your business in these locations will not only provide a prime location it will also provide you with a great work/life balance.

If you want to know more then visit their site here.

With the ROOT 1066 International Festival now in full swing, here’s your guide to what’s happening over the coming week.

Edith – a pilgrimage and film
Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 September

This weekend, see King Harold reunited with his common-law wife Edith, whose weathered statue mourns him still in Grosvenor Gardens, St Leonards. Film maker Andrew Kötting and author Iain Sinclair walked a 100-mile pilgrimage from Waltham Abbey to St Leonards, via Battle Abbey where Harold fell, symbolically reconnecting the lovers after 950 years of separation.

You can see the film, with a special live performance, on Saturday 17 September, 8pm at Kino Teatr, £10. Or, visit Grosvenor gardens on Sunday 18 September to see your own personal 5-minute version, as the Flat Pack Castle becomes a two-seater cinema for the day. 11am to 4pm, free.

Artist talks – John Cole and Hew Lock
Saturday 17 September

Also this weekend, there are two artist talks. John Cole, the photographer behind the portraits currently hanging among the net huts, will be in conversation with the Fishermen’s Protection Society on Saturday 17 September at 2pm at the Stade Hall. Entrance is free but space is limited.

Meanwhile, Hew Lock will be discussing his 2011 work, For Those in Peril on the Sea – which inspired the exhibition that will be on display at Electro Studios Project Space on 1 and 2 October. The talk will take place on Saturday 17 September at 2pm at Hastings Museum & Art Gallery. Tickets cost £5.

Feast of the Dead – a medieval banquet
Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25 September

If that’s tickled your appetite, how about a medieval feast to see you through the week? Every evening from Wednesday 21 to Sunday 25, the Stade Hall will be playing host to Feast of the Dead. Part banquet, part theatre, participants will be served an authentic 11th century three-course meal, while interacting with the ghosts of the battlefield. Tickets cost £25/£18, or £15 for the Wednesday preview, and vegetarian and vegan options are available. Book at: http://bit.ly/2cWPSHf.

Clash! – a choral spectacle
Saturday 24 September

Next weekend, don’t miss Clash!, a unique musical event involving seven local choirs, who will converge in the cathedral-like atrium of Sussex Coast College. Poets and spoken word artists have collaborated with composers from across the South East to create a musical ‘tapestry’ in response to the Bayeux Tapestry’s narration of the great Battle of 1066. Performances take place at 4.30pm and 7.30pm on Saturday 24 September. Tickets cost £7/£5 – go to barefootopera.com/tickets/clash-24th-sept.

Buoys Boys – new exhibition opens at the De La Warr
Opens Saturday 24 September

Leading British artist Fiona Banner presents an immersive installation exploring her ongoing interest in language and its limitations. The exhibition, which takes place both inside and outside of the De La Warr Pavilion, incorporates a series of inflatable full stops from different fonts blown up to human scale. The exhibition is open from Saturday 24 September to Sunday 8 January and entry is free.  There will be an artist’s talk at 11am on Saturday 24 September – tickets are £7/£5/£3.50 from dlwp.com.

DRIFT – how do you navigate a place?
Guided walk Saturday 24 September

This inclusive artwork that reveals how young people with complex needs experience the world in different ways. From now until Sunday 16 October, you can find sound and video installations at three different locations around the town – Warrior Square station ticket office, Bottle Alley, and in the East Hill Lift top station. Join participants for a free guided walk on Saturday 24 September – meet at Warrior Square Station at 11am.–

For more information on these events and many more, visit 1066contemporary.com.

ROOT 1066 International Festival has been funded by Hastings Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Coastal Communities Fund. For the latest news, follow @ROOT1066 on Twitter, or like facebook.com/ROOT1066.

Hastings Borough Council, in its role as Coastal Protection Authority, is planning to further improve the town’s coastal defences.

Phase 1, which is expected to take place this autumn and winter, will create two new rock groynes at Carlisle Parade and replenish shingle, recycling it from other areas. Phase 2 will focus on improving the structural integrity of the Harbour Arm, and is scheduled for autumn 2017. The improvements build on previous work in 2009, which saw a new rock groyne built and concrete repairs at Rock-a-Nore.

“Anyone who regularly walks along the promenade between Hastings and St Leonards can’t fail to notice the different levels of shingle, you can’t even walk under the pier in some areas,” said Cllr Dawn Poole, lead member for regeneration and culture. “It will be fascinating to see the gap filled in the harbour arm too – having spent so long explaining to visitors why there’s a gap in it, it will make a nice change to start explaining why there isn’t any more.”

The rock is being shipped from Norway and will be delivered by sea, probably on side-tipping vessels.

The project will cost £4,061,000, which is being funded almost entirely by a Flood Defence Grant in Aid, from DEFRA. The council will be asked to contribute £30,000 towards the scheme, funded from its rolling capital defence works programme.


With the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings coming up fast, the ROOT 1066 International Festival is getting under way. September kicks off with 10 cracking new exhibitions across 1066 Country – in Hastings, St Leonards, Pevensey, Robertsbridge and Rye.

“There’s so much happening in and around Hastings at the moment, it’s wonderful to see the energy building as we approach the 950th anniversary,” said Cllr Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council. “These exciting exhibitions give us an insight into how our history informs our modern-day life and identity.”

  • I Am A Norman
    This outdoor photography exhibition explores ‘living history’ by depicting Hastings residents with Norman-derived surnames. Photographs will be on display at the Queens Road bus shelters and Hastings Station from 1 September to 2 October.
  • We work in the dark
    In a poignant year for unions remembered and ruptured, this free exhibition from the New Road Artists is inspired by Henry James’ The Europeans. The work will be exhibited at Rye Creative Centre from 3 September to 2 October. Free.
  • Fishermen of Quiberville
  • John Cole has been in Normandy, capturing French fishermen (with a camera). From 3 September to 16 October their portraits will be hung around Rock a Nore, alongside their Hastings-based counterparts.
  • Coastal Currents Open Studios
    Hastings’ annual arts festival is back with ROOT 1066-tinted spectacles. The ever-popular programme allows free access to a range of local artists and the way they work. Open studios will run over two weekends: 3-4 and 10-11 September.
  • Another Crossing
    Bern O’Donoghue and Giovanna Del Sarto explore hazardous journeys and dangerous crossings, along with some of the issues and myths surrounding migration in 2016. Murmurations Gallery, 3 September and 2 October, free.
  • Harold’s Grave
    Much has been made about King Harold’s death – including this installation by international artist Alice Schÿler Mallet. Mallet’s golden-stone structure will open at Pevensey castle from 7 September to 1 October. See English Heritage for entry prices.
  • Edith Digital Pinholes
    Anonymous Bosch accompanied Andrew Kötting on a walk from Waltham Abbey to St Leonards for a new film about King Harold’s mistress, Edith Swan Neck. His pinhole camera photographs from the journey will be exhibited at the BlackShed Gallery, from 7 September to 1 October. Free.
  • A New Language
    Curated by Chris Winter, an international group of artists will exhibit their work at the Observer Building. Unique and challenging, the exhibition explores the culture shift initiated by 1066. From 10-25 September, free.
  • Drift
    Project Art Works work with people with complex needs, and this three-part sound and video installation invites you to experience your town from new perspectives. It will be on display from 10 September to 16 October in Warrior Square Station, Bottle Alley and the East Hill Lift.
  • Martin Honeysett 

A major exhibition of cartoons including historical works, a retrospective of artwork by Martin Honeysett and contemporary work produced by cartoonists and workshop participants on the theme of ‘when cultures collide’. Hastings Museum & Art Gallery, 15 September to January 2017, free.

ROOT 1066 International Festival has been funded by Hastings Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Coastal Communities Fund. For the latest news visit 1066contemporary.com, follow @ROOT1066 on Twitter, or like facebook.com/ROOT1066

A community arts project has been completed at Warrior Square, St Leonards in memory of Jeremy Birch, the former leader of Hastings Borough Council (2001 – 2008 and 2010 – 2015) until his untimely death in May 2015.

The local community together with Hastings Youth Council under the guidance of Graffiti Plus have completed the artwork in Jeremy’s memory on the promenade steps at Warrior Square.Group on steps IMG_3044 SM

The inscription reads: ‘People let your voice be heard, every culture, every language, every word, fore this land this life this earth belongs to you. One Hastings Many Voices’

“Jeremy played a huge role in Hastings over the twenty years he was involved in local politics. He was not only active in Hastings but across East Sussex, and, in fact, across much of the south east where he was involved in many different groups and partnerships over this time” said Cllr Peter Chowney leader Hastings Borough Council.

He added: “The cultural diversity of St Leonards was very important to him and he coined the phrase ‘One Hastings Many Voices’. This new community art project in his memory is wholly fitting; he would have loved it. Our thanks must go to everyone that was involved in its creation.

“Jeremy was a very strong figure within the council who always supported our projects and campaigns. He constantly inspired us to do our best and believe that everyone deserve to have their voice heard” said Huda Caglayan, chair Hastings Youth Council.

Plastipack Ltd, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of specialist covering materials for swimming pools, has opened an exciting new test and research facility at its headquarters in St Leonards-on- Sea, East Sussex. The new capability was officially opened by Rt. Hon. Amber RuddMP, Member of Parliament for Hastings and Rye, and Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

The unique test facility, a world first, comprises five outdoor 8m x 4m x 1.2m swimming pools located side by side. This allows Plastipack to accurately measure and compare the performance of different types of cover materials, while monitoring real-time water temperature and environmental conditions.Plastpack Ltd

Amber Rudd was delighted to formally open Plastipack’s new test facility, saying; “It’s encouraging that an interesting and innovative business such as Plastipack is growing so strongly on the world stage from their established base in Hastings. It’s vital that they are able to continue to access the support within the UK and Europe that is so important for their growth prospects.”

Peter Adlington, managing director of Plastipack Ltd, explains how the test facility will benefit the company. “Our new outdoor laboratory will be invaluable in the development, analysis and comparison of high performance cover materials for pools. It increases our understanding of how products perform on real pools and will help Plastipack maintain market leadership through technical expertise. It adds credibility to product claims with publishable results and greater environmental monitoring which sets us and our products apart from other manufacturers. It also helps raise the importance and industry awareness of credible performance data,” he adds.

The test facility has been designed and developed in collaboration with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) at the University of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute and Department of Physics. The project is co-funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

The test area represents an investment of £100k at Plastipack’s St Leonards site, which currently employs 34 core staff. The company has invested over £3 million in its manufacturing and distribution capability since it was formed in 1999. Plastipack currently exports to 34 countries throughout the world, with around 75% of its business in the EU.

Plastipack Ltd contact details: Tel +44 (0) 1424 851 659, www.plastipack.co.uk

‘Purveyors of fine burgers, fries, craft beers and good times’ the opening on the homepage of their website says it all, as Half Man! Half Burger! brings a welcome new addition to the town with the first dedicated fully licensed Burger restaurant to hit St Leonards.

With their mission being to create perfect hamburgers, fries and sides.  Friends Rory and Matt launched Half Man! Half Burger!

HMHB was launched less than two years ago in Brighton with a pop up burger shack, shortly after this they showcased their burgers at the UK Summer festival circuit before deciding to open up their first permanent home at the Marina Court St Leonards, where they officially sold out on their first day of opening.

The two friends got stared partially with a Locate East Sussex Grant to help cover the start up costs including refurbishing the venue.  Locate East Sussex also introduced them to useful contacts at Hastings Borough Council to sort out licences and meet the relevant regulations.

The business was inspired by pilgrimages to authentic American burger joints.  Their burger patties are made from grass fed local cattle, whist their buns are freshly hand made by local bakery Judges.

With plenty on the menu to choose from including gluten free buns available and children’s meals too there is definitely something for everyone.

I for one cannot wait to get myself down to HMHB to try out some of their tasty delights.




The well established Forte’s Pizzeria business celebrates its 50th year in St Leonards on Sea and many of their customers over the last five decades still keep in touch with their adopted Italian family.

fortes_1966_mario_tony_lucia_and_david (2)

Mario, Tony, Lucia and David outside Fortes in 1966

Lucia, David, Mario and Tony all celebrated their success in business and their children and grandchildren were able to entice them away from their customers long enough to recreate a photo of them from 1966. They also held a surprise gathering for them at the Pizzeria to share their achievements.

The brother and sister quartet’s Italian parents, Augusto and Minchetta, started their life in England once they had emigrated from their family village, Monforte. They took over Forte’s Ice Cream Parlour on May 24th 1965, which was originally owned by a close family friend named Tony Minchella. During the 60’s and 70’s, ice cream parlours along the seaside were a popular attraction, none being busier than Forte’s along the South East.

During 2005, the brother and sister team changed their focus and decided to reopen the business as Forte’s Pizzeria with Pizziola’s (pizza chefs) from the home of Pizza, Naples. From here, the company blossomed.

The Pizzeria features large photos of Monforte on the wall and both Pasta and Pizza Monforte on the menus as a tribute to the family’s origins.

Forte’s Pizzeria has always brought a touch of Italian authenticity to the Sussex seafront and is widely acclaimed as a true Italian jewel and if you’re a pizza lover then Forte’s Pizzeria is situated at 2 Eversfield Place, St Leonards-on-Sea.