Well done to the Worthing Society for commissioning a memorial stone in tribute to our late Queen. I was honoured to attend its unveiling by the Mayor in Beach House Park on Friday and say a few words about the Royal Family’s links with the town and how we had been ‘short-changed’ on visits.
The late Queen actually only visited Worthing officially once in 1999 for the opening of the new Durrington High School site. She had been previously in 1951 as Princess Elizabeth for the opening of a new wing at what was then the Courtlands Hospital. The stone was placed under the tree planted by the Worthing Society last year as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy, a fantastic environmental project to link special areas of rain forest, jungles, botanic gardens and green spaces across the Commonwealth countries.
This was an idea first mooted by former Labour minister Frank Field 20 years ago but only came to fruition with the Queen’s support when it was launched at the Commonwealth Leaders’ Summit in 2015. Given his strong interest in all matters green perhaps we can now entice the new king to Worthing to see the tribute to his late mother and catch up with all the exciting things which have happened in the town in the last 24 years since her visit.
Many congratulations also to the Friends of Shoreham Fort who have just been given the prestigious King’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2023, one of only 4 groups across West Sussex to receive it. It has been a longstanding labour of love for Gary Baines, Sharon Penfold and their band of hardy volunteers as their charity which has brought back to life this important scheduled monument on Shoreham Beach. It is just frustrating that their endeavours are constantly undermined by mindless vandalism which has made it necessary to fence of much of the site between the open weekends and many other educational and family events which they hold there.