Herald column April 28th 2022
I was riding along on the crest of a wave with the best of them at the Worthing Gang Show on Thursday evening. Everyone had a great evening, and it was just so good to get out and mix amongst families and young people just enjoying themselves without having to hide behind a mask. The jokes were just as corny as all the years ago when I appeared in gang shows in my scout days in Lewes, but the standard of singing seems to have improved.
After the obligatory zoom calls, I started off y constituency Friday with a visit to Shoreham Port to catch up on how they have been surviving the pandemic and how the Ukrainian situation is affecting them. I am glad to say that our local trust port is in robust health and busy recruiting. Port Chief Executive Tom Willis was particularly keen to show off the new Port Kitchen café due to open next month.
The idea is to take advantage of the increasing visitors to Shoreham and offer them a unique harbour view over their locally sourced breakfast, lunch or supper from sunrise to sunset. And when they are in season the aim is to showcase local produce such as scallops as Shoreham has been the biggest port for that particular shellfish in the country. I met some really enthusiastic young people taken on as part of the DWP’s ‘Kickstart’ scheme all looking forward to serving customers for real in a few weeks’ time.
In the afternoon we welcomed Health Minister and fellow West Sussex MP Gillian Keegan to Worthing to see progress on the exciting new Integrated Care Centre behind the Town Hall, having been previously booked to attend the formal launch before going down with Covid. I then took her for a sneak preview of the new Worthing Red balloon School in Windsor Road which is due to open later in the year and specialises in offering places to 11–17-year-olds self-excluded from school due to anxiety, trauma or other medical conditions.
This former residential home has been kitted out thanks to the generosity of local businesses and will be a fantastic addition to Worthing’s educational offer to young people who would otherwise struggle and potentially drop-out altogether at great harm to themselves.
I ended my packed constituency day by running a constituent through with a particularly blunt sword as you do after a particularly busy Friday. Before you think I have lost the plot, the actual plot was the St George’s Day Mummers Play courtesy of the North Lancing Residents Association which took the place of the traditional Christmas panto cancelled due to Covid, but which still featured Father Christmas. I played the heroic Bold Prince (of course) duly despatching the baddy the Black Knight played by the same constituent I get to kill every year. Fortunately, he doesn’t’ take it personally.