A generous community

When Bees Homes launched this year’s campaign with Fizz on Foot we had no idea that local businesses would contribute so many donations that we’d have enough for five hampers. It was just as well since the 10 nominations we received were very moving and deserving illustrating how many good people there are in our area.

So it’s a great ‘shout out’ to these organisations who responded to Ian Shearer’s encouragement and made contributions.

A set of amazing nominations

The nominations came in all shapes and sizes: wife nominating a husband; daughter a mum; a friend her friend; an employee her boss; a charity worker people he’s supported; an employer her employee; and a hotelier someone who has helped Eastbourne’s business community.  The common denominator, each nominated person has gone beyond the norm to make others’ lives better.

When Councillor Steve Wallis Mayor of Eastbourne introduced the nominations at the start of the annual judging event, which is held concurrent with the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas breakfast, he noted that everyone (nominator or nominated) is a winner. High praise indeed from someone who will be found this Christmas Day helping to feed the homeless.

These were the nominations we received:

  • Howard: leader of Eastbourne Foodbank
  • Kali: inspirational mum and playwright
  • Tracy: Mother, daughter, friend and business woman
  • Ana-Bela: Mum, Nanna and charity volunteer
  • Edward & Rupert: supportive brothers and fund raisers
  • Karl: exceptional husband, carer and father
  • Leanna: mother, carer, event organiser and volunteer
  • Sarah: mother, carer, part time worker and sole parent
  • Ansley: mother, carer, and home educator
  • David: entrepreneur and community enabler.

A goodly crowd of Chamber of Commerce members and guests assembled bright and early for breakfast at Le Bistro Pierre Eastbourne on 17th December to hear each story narrated by a wide cross section of the local community. At times you could hear a pin drop and a few tears were shed.

And the winners are…

Everyone was given a voting slip and asked to place a x against the 5 nominations they felt most deserving. Here’s the (slightly truncated)  stories that were selected:

Howard set up Eastbourne Foodbank 7 years ago. Howard works tirelessly to support the local community and those living in poverty. Because of him ,000s of people and children have been given hope, time and have been seen and heard. They have been given their dignity back. Most importantly  no one has gone without food or the basic necessities in life. Every person whether they are a client, staff member or volunteer is treated with dignity, love and equally. He is humble, kind, compassionate. He is a role model for many people. He doesn’t like recognition and won’t like me doing this, but he truly deserves to be acknowledged.

Kali, who, as well as being the most amazing mum to her three children has created the fantastic family musical “The Lost Toys Big Adventure”, which is showing at the Hippodrome in December. Kali’s son Finlay was born with a rare brain malformation called Pachygyria and at just a few weeks’ old had to have an operation to remove part of his brain. It has left him very week on his left side, missing fine motor-skills on his right side, impaired vision and unable to walk or talk. He needs constant care and it must be simply exhausting. How she has managed to find time to write and produce this production is beyond me.

Kali has been driven by hers (and others’) experiences of going to the theatre with children with additional needs and having been judged when children act differently or make unusual noises. She recalls one family even being asked to leave. Consequently, she has come up with a very inclusive event (a relaxed performance as she calls it) and has been determined to produce a truly sensory experience too. “Lost Toys”, as it is known, which was first performed at the Towner Gallery last year, is about a doll, a robot, and a superhero, who were made at the North Pole factory and who fall out of Father Christmas’s sleigh and land in Eastbourne. It is an incredibly enjoyable and professional production, which my kids adored when they went last year.

Tracy is the most loving and caring person and, since being diagnosed with Grade 3 Breast Cancer on her birthday this year, 11th June 2019, she has shown us all how amazingly brave and strong she is too. The year before her own diagnosis Tracy nursed her own close friend through this disease but sadly, she lost her battle. Tracy has run a delightful business, Hastings Holistics, for years now giving beautiful treatments and recently trained as in Oncology Massage to help others like her friend.
Tracy endured 8 rounds of gruelling Chemotherapy which she proved to be resistant to. An emergency op was scheduled but then a decision not to operate as the cancer has now spread to her lungs, lymph glands and liver. Tracy now awaits news of the possibility of being put on trial drugs and is spending as much quality time as possible with her husband and daughter for the time she has left. While Tracy was going through this herself her Mother was suddenly diagnosed with cancer as well and lost her battle in August after just a few months. Tracy has taken care of all that has to be done dealing with this and caring for her distraught Father and her own emotions and is always there for her own friends and extended family.

Tracy makes time for everyone with a smile and a laugh especially her only daughter and beloved husband.

Edward & Rupert. Edward was diagnosed with Astrocytoma in 2016 (a form of brain cancer), he had to be flown to America for 10 weeks of Proton treatment and to start with all the family were able to be together, but as in many cases the family got split up when the Dad had to return to the UK. As time went on the family re-grouped and treatment continued locally, but the boys kept being separated during treatment, finally there was good news and things have settled down, well, settled as far as treatment, but then the boys started going out fundraising and have been bucket collecting, selling raffle tickets and Edward even had his hair shaved off donating his hair to a charity for wigs to be made for poorly children and the money to Children With Cancer Fund for them to do wishes for other local families. All through treatment & the fundraising, Rupert has been by his brother’s side, supporting him and any fundraising activities that Edward has done.

Sara suffers from a kidney disease which she discovered this year has been inherited by one of her two sons.  This means that she regularly has to go to Southampton Hospital for check-ups with him.  She also discovered this year that her partner and father of this little boy had become a drug addict and was using all their money to continue his habit.  She managed to encourage him to seek help but had to remove him from their home as he was becoming too unreliable both as a partner and a father.  He has not managed to become clean as far as I am aware, but she tries very hard to maintain contact with the father and her son through mediation and external services.

Sara works part time and is never off sick or takes time off to deal with her personal issues. Sara is one of those people who is never ‘down’, she always comes to work looking beautifully dressed and groomed!   You would never ever know that any of this was going on behind the scenes and I only found out because I bumped into her in the ladies loos having a little cry one day.

Handing over the hampers

Before Christmas, Ana and Ian will be presenting hampers to those who very kindly provided the nominations for them to then hand over to the winners. Keep a watchful eye out on Bees Homes Facebook page for the pictures.