News from across Sussex - February 2014

School governors

School governors - Credit: Archant

A look at what is happening out and about in Sussex

Crawley Museum artist's impression

Crawley Museum artist's impression - Credit: Archant

Heritage Lottery Fund boost for Crawley Museum

Crawley Borough Council, in partnership with Crawley Museum Society, has been awarded £1.15m by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to provide a new museum in the town centre.

The new museum will be located in the medieval timber-framed house The Tree and its annexe on the High Street, with a glass corridor linking the two. The current museum in Goffs Park House only holds about 10 per cent of the society’s artefacts. The new site offers more space and it is hoped that its central location and architectural quality will make it an invaluable addition to Crawley’s heritage landscape. The Tree is a Grade II-listed building originating from around 1280.

Planning permission, which was a stipulation of the bid, has already been granted.

Helen Poole, Curator of Crawley Museum, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to hear the news. The HLF’s financial commitment, on top of Crawley Borough Council’s support and input, will enable us to expand the museum service to take account of all the rich diversity and heritage of Crawley in a fine setting.

“It is a real asset to know that we have the HLF’s support in our quest to do this. Our final goal will be a long time coming, but in the meantime we shall keep going in the current museum. We invite everyone to come and see us there and talk about the future, which now looks very promising.” Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East England, said: “A new museum in one of the town’s oldest buildings will give heritage an enhanced role in the educational and cultural life of Crawley.

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“It will provide increased opportunities for community-based events alongside both temporary and permanent exhibitions about the history of the town and its people.”

The total cost of the project is £1.95m. Crawley Borough Council had already agreed to spend £763,000 to refurbish The Tree and bring it up to standard. Work is expected to start in April 2015 and will take around 18 months.


Music meets Friends of Skiing

Ingrid Christophersen MBE hosted Music Meets Friends of Skiing at her home, Bentley House near Lewes, to raise money for British athletes going to the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi, Russia, in February 2014. Ingie has been involved in skiing for most of her life and was awarded her MBE for services to the sport. A Champagne reception was followed by a Gala Concert and a buffet supper.

The entertainment was provided by Laszlo Poth, piano, Georgina Kellen, soprano, Thomas Eisner, violin, Stefan Holmström, bass baritone, Paula Boyagis, mezzo soprano and India Moynihan, a 16-year-old singer, with support from Gillian Poth. The programme was a mix of classical and light music, going from Bach to Mozart,from Bizet to Cole Porter and finishing the evening with the audience joining in Rogers and Hammerstein’s It’s a Grand Night for Singing.


Business recognition for Worthing’s Amanda

Local business owner Amanda Hodges met business guru Theo Paphitis after being selected as a winner of his #SBS (Small Business Sunday) award on Twitter. Worthing-based Amanda set up her business, PuddyPooch Pet Boutique, in May 2011 and has found Twitter a valuable communication and marketing tool. She soon began ‘following’ Theo Paphitis on the social media website and became aware of his iniatitive aimed at boosting small businesses.

Each week hundreds of business tweet Theo and he picks six as recipients of his #SBS Award. After winning in September Amanda now appears on the #SBS website ( and was invited to a get-together for winners at the Birmingham ICC where she met Theo.

Amanda set up PuddyPooch Pet Boutique to combine her passion for animals with her love of style. The business stocks a wide range of products, from Prima Dog Pet Beds to Superman dog collars!


Sussex Scraps - Sussex history, anecdotes and folklore, compiledby Chris Horlock

Das Boot

In April 1919, a few months after the end of World War I. this German submarine (U-118) was washed up on the beach at Hastings, causing quite a stir. It had been surrendered by German forces in February, but while being towed to France broke free and, after several weeks floating around, went aground at Hastings, opposite the Queen’s Hotel. Thousands flocked to the seafront to see the vessel and in time, the Town Council imposed a charge for anyone climbing on board. The proceeds went towards a fund for events to welcome home the town’s troops, planned for later that year. In time, the U boat became an eyesore and ‘in the way’, so the order was given to break it up for scrap. However, souvenir hunters quickly moved in and took parts away. The town itself decided to keep the submarine’s gun but it got buried in the shingle by wave action. Although recovered in 1921, the gun was disposed of despite calls for it to be displayed, mounted on a plinth, as a permanent reminder of the event. The submarine had seen little war action. It had been built in the Vulcan shipyard, Hamburg and was launched in February 1918. Under the command of Herbert Strohwasser, it managed to sink two ships while on its only patrol before it surrendered, exactly one year after it was launched.


Mint condition

Sussex is the county with everything, so it’s no surprise that it once had a mint - a building where the nation’s coins were made. The Royal Mint operated from the Tower of London, from the 1270s, and did so for some 500 years, but before this there were other, smaller mints scattered across the country, including one at Pevensey. The souvenir postcard view shows what was left of it just over 100 years ago, when it was a tourist attraction, but the works went back to the time of William I (following the famous Battle of Hastings of 1066), with coins being made between 1076 and 1154. It’s often wondered why the mint building wasn’t built inside Pevensey’s famous castle, just across the road – for security - also built following the battle. The answer is probably that tthe castle took far longer to build that anticipated, the need for coins being urgent, so the mint ‘opened shop’, as it were, on a separate site. It would have been well guarded. However, it’s always supposed there was a tunnel, connecting the two together. The old mint workings were eventually incorporated into the large house, seen here, built 1342; initially it had 28 rooms and the remains of the mint were next to the kitchen. For years, the building was a popular tourist attraction – retaining the name of ‘The Mint House’, and it still stands today. It came up for sale recently, with presumably all its old rooms gutted. Can any Sussex Lifereader from the area let us know if it’s been sold off yet, and what its fate will be? And what happened to all its historic furniture?


Sussex singing academy hits the high notes

A pioneering singing school started by one of the founders of the Brighton Institute of Modern Music is now so successful it is about to take on children in Britain’s second city.

Vocademy, which has been based in Ivy Road, Worthing for the past five years, also has schools in Brighton,

Hove and Horsham.

Now creator Damian Keyes, 37, is about to launch a sister school in Birmingham.

Vocademy runs 10-week part-time one-hour singing courses for kids aged six to 18. Courses are age specific and all are led by qualified CRB-checked teachers.

Damian said: “The kids love it and we see such a transformation in them at the end of the 10 weeks. I started Vocademy because, to me, there was nowhere that let kids go and learn to sing to contemporary cool music that they’d enjoy and relate to. It’s really taken off and we’ve got schools all over the south east now. The feedback from parents is brilliant. A lot of the kids stay with us term after term.”

One of the original founders of the Brighton Institute of Modern Music (BIMM), Damian started Vocademy after leaving BIMM in 2008. A bass player whose session credits include work with Alanis Morissette, David Bowie, The Prodigy and Eric Clapton, he’s also a member of The Indie Killers.

The Birmingham franchise of Vocademy is due to open in 2014.

Sussex residents encouraged to become school governors

A charity has developed a campaign to encourage people to become school governors. Governors make vital decisions but recent research undertaken with residents in Sussex showed a low level of public awareness about the role they play. Among other things, three quarters of people didn’t know that school governors are responsible for deciding admission policies. More than half didn’t realise they also decide on which Head is appointed.

The findings led SGOSS – the school governor recruitment charity funded by the Department for Education to provide a free school governor recruitment resource for schools – to develop its ‘School Makers’ interactive video campaign which launched at the start of this year. The campaign aims to raise awareness and drive recruitment to fill some of the 30,000 governor vacancies in England.

The campaign’s focal point is an interactive video in which three young pupils interview candidates to be a School Maker. Participants must navigate a series of decisions that governors face, such as whether to sell part of the school playing field in order to finance improved IT facilities. As Liz McSheehy, Chief Executive of SGOSS said: “We know that a full and diverse governing body is a source of enormous strength to a school. The School Makers interactive video campaign looks to raise awareness of what the role involves and we hope it will inspire interested parties in Sussex to apply to become a governor. If people feel they have skills to offer and care about making a difference in their local community, we want to hear from them.”

Governor Mimi Harker urges others to get involved: “Being a governor is one of the most important roles I have taken on. Children’s futures are shaped by the decisions we make, and when the school is judged, its reputation is built or broken on those decisions.”

See the campaign here:

Sussex by the sea

This is Hollywood House at South Bersted, not far from the village church, where William Ward Higgs, a Victorian composer, lived for a number of years. He is famous for one song (and sadly, not much else) that everyone in our county knows, virtually the Sussex theme song – Sussex by the Sea. It’s played at any local event where upbeat, rousing music is needed and most people try to join in the words.

They go like this:

‘For we’re the men from Sussex, Sussex by the Sea.

We plough and sow and reap and mow,

And useful men are we;

And when you go to Sussex,

Whoever you may be,

You may tell them all that we stand or fall

For Sussex by the Sea!

Oh Sussex, Sussex by the Sea!

Good old Sussex by the Sea!

You may tell them all that we stand or fall, For Sussex by the Sea.’