Herald Column: August 27

As a small group of family members and others gathered at the memorial at Old Toll Bridge on Saturday it was hard to believe that 5 years had passed since that fateful summer’s day when 11 men tragically lost their lives at the Shoreham Air Show. Again, I saw the dignified grief of the relatives who have been through so much over those 5 years, and still patiently waiting for the formal coroner’s inquest delayed this time into 20221 because of Coronavirus.

Inevitably that event has become part of Shoreham’s history but for those of us who were there at the time so too has the extraordinary way that the community rallied round showing superlative empathy and support for the families. Everyone contributed so much both to help the families and to make the job of the emergency services easier who showed such professionalism and sensitivity on the day of the tragedy and in dealing with the grim aftermath too. It was the one upside in an otherwise horrendous event. It also demonstrated a community spirit that stepped up quickly and effectively in responding to the current pandemic crisis where again we have every reason to be proud.

Someone who takes great pride in his community is 31-year-old Adrian Foote of Sompting who has used lockdown to mow all the verges in his part of the village. Not only that but he has restored smart edges and cleared out all the grit and debris from the gutters and bagged up all the cuttings and rubbish to boot. Adrian has become something of a local celebrity and several residents contacted me to ask if we could find some way to recognise his efforts.

I was delighted to present him therefore with one of my Coronavirus Community Champions Awards and Adur Council Chairman Andy McGregor joined me and scores of grateful neighbours to mark the occasion along with a Meridian TV crew which was certainly a bonus. Whilst some will say that the Council should have done all this, we know the pressure they are under and cannot do everything these days. It is always a common complaint that when they cut the grass they leave the cuttings to compost down rather than clear them away.

In this case Adur Council provided the refuse sacks and took them away full. Building on the success of the recent community hubs operated by Adur and Worthing Councils and a more proactive approach from council officials towards local volunteers who are willing and able, perhaps this could be a template for a partnership in the future so that more communities could be smartened up like this one in Sompting.