Review of the Year - July to December 2016

Bexhill Roaring 20s. Photo Simon Newbury. SUS-150720-104537001
Bexhill Roaring 20s. Photo Simon Newbury. SUS-150720-104537001

In the second half of a two-part feature, the Bexhill Observer takes a look back at the highs and lows of the six months from July to December 2016.


Grace McAdie

Grace McAdie

• A man who stabbed his ex-girlfriend 23 times with a knife was jailed for life after being found guilty of her murder.

Lauren Masters, 20, was killed in the kitchen of her flat in Sutherland Avenue by Paul Withers, 22, in August last year.

The father of Lauren’s two children was sentenced to a minimum of 24 years in prison following the trial at Hove Crown Court.

• The attempt to reclaim the Guinness World Record for the most Charleston dancers fell just short but that did not ruin the fun at the Roaring 20s event.

Alfie Peak

Alfie Peak

More than 977 dancers were needed to retake the record but only 825 were managed at the De La Warr Pavilion.

Hundreds enjoyed the spectacular day of 1920s entertainment on the seafront with bands, classic cars and attractions.

• A flag-waving capacity house cheered the 10th annual Bexhill Festival of Music to a triumphant conclusion.

The Last Night of the Bexhill Proms at the De La Warr Pavilion was the

Ravenside Retail Park in Bexhill is closed SUS-161120-154606001

Ravenside Retail Park in Bexhill is closed SUS-161120-154606001

44th and final event of more than a month of music-making.

It also brought the curtain down on former West End singer and councillor Tony Mansi’s decade of leadership of the festival he founded as he stepped down from both roles this year.

• Bexhill enjoyed a bumper week of events for the annual carnival celebrations. Hundreds lined the streets to welcome the traditional procession on the final day.


Harley Simpson SUS-160112-102207001

Harley Simpson SUS-160112-102207001

• Tributes poured in after a 19-year-old former Bexhill schoolgirl tragically died in a car crash.

St Richard’s Catholic College alumnus Grace McAdie died when her Ford Ka car left the road and flipped on the B2165 at Northiam.

The teenager’s family said she was ‘bubbly, kind, caring and fun-loving, and lit up any room she walked into’.

Grace had just completed her first year at Bath Spa University, where she was studying psychology, and was spending the summer with her family in Battle.

• Thousands of motorcyclists descended on the town for three days of free biker heaven at the weekend for the 2016 Bexhill MotoFest.

The country’s first ‘ride-in’ cinema attracted dozens on the De La Warr

Bexhill's Christmas lights switch-on festival 2016. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-160312-064601001

Bexhill's Christmas lights switch-on festival 2016. Photo by Frank Copper. SUS-160312-064601001

Pavilion terrace before the legendary Wilko Johnson played a sell-out gig in the auditorium.

More than 3,000 bikers roared onto the seafront for a whole day of music, entertainment, food and motorcycles-galore, including a special guest, a Honda Goldwing trike.


• The ever-popular Bexhill Festival of the Sea returned to the town over the weekend.

The event on the Metropole Lawns included cooking demonstrations by Billingsgate Seafood Training School, a presentation by WhaleFest, foraging by Wild Feast, stalls highlighting excellent local produce, and global seafood cuisine.

• The council finally agreed to hold a review into Bexhill’s political future after receiving a petition more than a year ago.

Rother District Council’s cabinet approved the community governance review, which many hope will lead to the creation of a town council.

The consultation starts later this month.


• Four men who left a father with severe brain damage in a ‘brutal’ attack more than three years ago in Bexhill were jailed after being found guilty.

Alfie Peak was attacked outside a takeaway on Sea Road in the early hours of July 27, 2013, leaving him with life-changing head injuries.

Zack Dangerfield, 25, of Preston Road, John Panice, 26, of Wartlington Drive, Stephen Luck, 26, of Kinscott Close, and Thomas Unwin, 25, of High Street, Ripley, Derbyshire, were all found guilty of GBH with intent at Hove Crown Court.

• The entire 1066 country sprang into action for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.

People from all over the world flocked to the area, including Bexhill, for the myriad events to mark the occasion.

• A ward by-election sparked controversy as the Liberal Democrats told Labour and Green Party supporters to vote for the independent candidate, Deirdre Earl-Williams, to make sure the Conservatives did not win.

Labour were aggrieved by this tactic as they had their own candidate standing in the election.

Cllr Stuart Earl’s wife won the election with 59.8 per cent of the vote, keeping the seat independent after Tony Mansi’s resignation.


• Thousands of people descended on Galley Hill for an ‘amazing’ firework display for Guy Fawkes Night – hailed as ‘a dream come true’.

Organiser Shining Lights reckons around 4,000 people, including many families, came to watch the fireworks and have some fun on Bonfire Night.

• A controversial plan to build a five-storey hotel in the town centre was refused.

Most Rother District Council planning committee members decided the Egerton Road proposal would be an over-development which would aggravate parking problems.

More than 100 residents and business owners objected to the 73-room hotel plans ahead of the meeting.

• Storm Angus caused chaos with Ravenside Retail Park closed for three days due to safety concerns.

The popular shopping park at Glyne Gap was shut by emergency services during the worst of the storm as large metal roof sheeting came loose in the strong winds.


• A drug dealing gang suspected of distributing cocaine across East Sussex and conspiring to murder was disrupted after a year-long investigation.

Eight people, including one from Bexhill, were charged following dawn raids across the county.

Ten people were arrested in total in the early morning raids on suspicion of a number of crimes including conspiracy to murder, money laundering and dealing class A drugs.

• The family of a popular 11-year-old boy who died following a road collision paid tribute to him.

Harley Simpson, who attended Pebsham Primary Academy before going to The St Leonards Academy, died on November 4, after the crash on October 22.

A silver Renault Espace hit a central crossing bollard on A259 in St Leonards and then Harley, who was waiting to cross the road.

• This year’s Christmas lights switch-on was hailed a success by the organisers.

Shining Lights laid on the event for the second year in a row, which saw thousands of people flock to the town centre.

• A homeless man ended up in hospital after he was assaulted by a stranger on Christmas Day.

The unprovoked attack happened in a seafront shelter on De La Warr Parade, near Bexhill Sailing Club.

Lauren Masters

Lauren Masters

Bexhill Festival of the Sea 2016. Photo by Sid Saunders SUS-160409-152008001

Bexhill Festival of the Sea 2016. Photo by Sid Saunders SUS-160409-152008001

Tony Cunningham (far left) and residents against the proposed hotel in Egerton Road. SUS-161019-104450001

Tony Cunningham (far left) and residents against the proposed hotel in Egerton Road. SUS-161019-104450001