Count-down to a successful garden party
A NOVEL way to open the annual Hospital Garden Party was adopted by Town Mayor Cllr Patrick Douart.
He invited the public to take part in a count-down to the opening of their own wallets.
Accompanied by his wife Maureen on Saturday, he told crowds assembled on the hospital lawn: "We are blessed with a lovely day and I hope it will encourage all of us to spend, spend, spend."
At its last meeting, the League of Friends of Bexhill Hospital had agreed to invest in more than 116,000 worth of medical equipment for the hospital.
Introduced by league chairman Stuart Earl, the Mayor told supporters: "We can all see and appreciate where the money goes.
"So don't be shy and on the count of three open your wallets."
He added: "I declare the party, and your wallets, opened!"
The public took the mayor at his word and, as usual, supported the work of the League of Friends generously.
The charity was helped to a 4,074 profit thanks to the support of a wide variety of hospital and town-based organisations.
Much of the league's ability to continue its work comes from the actions of grateful patients.
Hastings resident Bob Halsey has been a patient in Bexhill hospital for seven weeks after having had a leg amputated.
He is so grateful to Irvine Unit staff that with the help of his wife Lynn he has been sitting in his wheelchair in the unit's foyer day-by-day selling garden party raffle tickets and programmes.
He was able to hand in nearly 400 in ticket and programme sale and donations on Saturday.
His actions prompted Lily Lawrence, a long-term volunteer at the league shop in the unit, to get a thank-you card signed by league supporters for Bob.
Bob was helping on the Irvine Unit staff book stall at the garden party and enjoying listening to Eastbourne Pipe Band and the band of Little Common branch of the Royal British Legion on Saturday.
He told the Observer: "I am so grateful to the Irvine Unit. I think the staff are fantastic - absolutely brilliant.
"You could not wish to be in better care.
"You start off laughing when you wake up and continue until you go to bed at night."
Bob hopes to leave hospital by August.
But he pledged: "We are coming back next year to do the same thing again!"
In introducing the mayor, the league chairman had paid tribute to the many organisations which had assisted garden party organiser Douglas Mayne in making the day such a success.
From a Crossley to classic Jaguars, pre-war Morris to an Aston Martin, Bexhill 100 Motoring Club members had provided plenty of visual interest.
Hooe Line Dancing Club members put on displays.
Bexhill Rowing Club had two rowing machines in action and a single scull craft on display.
Police, Coastguard and the Ambulance service had vehicles on display.
"Choose as many as you want; pay as much as you want" - that was the selling slogan on the Lions Club bookstall.
Club members had a queue throughout the afternoon for their hot-dogs and hamburgers.
Rotary club members ran side-shows, the Past Rotarians manned the gates, the Tangent Club were selling toys, Bexhill Floral Group had their usual plant stall, the renal unit had a busy stall and Bexhill Physios were inviting the public to Splat The Rat.
Away from the bustle of the stalls, supporters were enjoying tea and cakes on the Irvine Unit lawn.
Drawn by the generous offer of free portrait sessions with Sue Jackson at The Studio at Bexhill Photographic for the class winners, proud parents entered their offspring for the baby show.
The hall at Bexhill Health Centre was packed as the league chairman announced the results.
The 0-six months class was won by eight week-old Paige Williams with Isla Baldrin second and Hannah Flanagan third.
The six to 12-month class was won by eight month-old Jake Hills with Leighton Scott second and Amy Louis Green third.
The 12-24 month class was won by Lucy Flanagan, 17 months with Lewis Walker second and Lily Webb third.
But the overall winners were hospital patients for, once again, the garden party had brought together supporters from all sectors of the community in support of the work of the League of Friends.