Another great ‘cheese fest’ at Ashdown House

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015




Jo Avery and her friends have raised an astonishing £345 for the Link (plus £86.25 in Gift Aid, which shows how important Gift Aid is!). Jo writes on the Ashdown House internal website:
Staff at Hastings had a brie-lliant time, at the 2nd staging of the Cheese Fest. This saw staff supply and sample all sorts of cheese related fare. Just some on offer this year were;- Cambozola, Wensleydale with Cranberries, and specialist Sussex cheeses, a variety of homemade cheese scones and straws, cheese crisps, chutneys and accompanying savoury biscuits. A new attraction for 2015 was ‘guess the cheesy grin’ from photos of the Permanent Secretary, Director Generals in amongst celebrities.
There was a raffle of cheese related goods, including support from local businesses, from the Electric Palace Cinema and Penbuckles (cheese tasting session for two with glass of wine), and in total £345 was raised for the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship link. This charity connects the people of Hastings UK and Hastings Sierra Leone to promote reconstruction and friendship. It raises money through events and donations to help build Hastings Sierra Leone following its devastation in 1997 during the Sierra Leonean civil war. The link also promotes official twinning, informal exchanges and school to school links.

We’re very grateful to Jo and her helpers – and very impressed by their ingenuity. If anyone fancies doing something at work on behalf of the Link, we can provide leaflets so that people know exactly what it is they’re supporting.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 20th May 2015

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015
  • Present: Rebecca Ellis, Femi Gilpin, Yvette John, Yvonne Johnson, Rev René Jarrett, Dorcas Johnson, Mohammed Koroma, Elizabeth Koroma, Edwin Jarrett, Emmanuel Nylander, Janet Siesay, Raymond Georgestone (Sierra Leone Hastings Association (UK);
    Bill & Eileen Evans, Eve Martin, Tom Collins, Ray Keene, Richard Lane, Richard White, Margaret Mitchell, Roger Mitchell, Richard Homewood (chair), John Geater, Christine Boulton-Lane, Alison Day, Lynn White, Janet Jarvis, Nola McSweeney, Derek Tomblin, Jacqui Lockwood, Robin Gray (minutes).

    1. Apologies for Absence: Paul Cabban, Sue Furness, Diane Reed, Corinne Harris, Liz MacKay. Michael Foster.
    2. Minutes of the AGM of 2014
    : These were accepted (proposed Ray, seconded Lynn). There were no matters arising.
    4. School Report: (Taken at this point as Roger had to leave for another engagement.) Roger summarised the essential points of his report for 2014, and gave an overview of developments so far in 2015. (To read his report in full, click here.) He thought he might have overstated County’s attitude towards teacher exchanges: the post-Ebola ban may not be as long as a whole year. Roger advised that teachers had raised some £6,000 to help the teachers who had been unable to work due to the Ebola crisis and that this had been sent to Head Teachers at the schools in Sierra Leone. Members confirmed that they have had messages of thanks from some of the teachers who personally received financial support raised by our schoolchildren. Roger is waiting to hear from the British Council as to whether the grants may be used in another way, e.g. to fund resources for the SL schools. John suggested that if teachers could not travel before the January deadline for spending the grants ran out, perhaps other representatives such as school governors could. Such people would not be limited to travelling in the February half-term, as teachers are. Roger thanked members for some excellent ideas, which he will put to the schools and to the British Council.
    The meeting expressed its thanks to Roger for the extraordinary work that he continues to do in inspiring and organising the schools consortium.
    3. Chairman’s Report
    : Richard presented his report for 2014. (To read the full report, click here). He emphasised the challenge that Ebola had presented, and thanked all those who had worked so hard to raise funds during the year and helped to organise the distribution of basic foodstuffs (rice, oil, sugar etc) for the families affected by Ebola. We saw some of the video footage that SLHA(UK) had obtained, showing this distribution and the local people’s reactions.
    Richard stressed the need now to focus on how best to go forward over the next few years. He presented a Draft Strategy that analyses the situation under such headings as Education, Creating Livelihoods and Promoting Health and proposes a number of detailed goals together with a possible timetable for achieving them between now and 2020. The draft strategy is simply a starting point for discussion. All are asked to read it (Click here to read the full text) and to let Richard know their reactions. We will be discussing the strategy urgently in forthcoming general meetings.
    Richard reported on the efforts of St Leonards Rotary Club to raise funds for solar panels in the Health Centre. On the basis of two studies we have had done, we believe that a mix of mains power, solar panels and the diesel generator is the most cost-effective way of providing power for the centre. The Rotarians’ next fundraising event is an evening of African Music on July 10th. Members are urged to support what will be a great evening of African food and music. For details, see the post on this website.
    Richard finished by thanking Christine’s Health Working Group for all they have achieved in support of the Health Centre, collecting packing and sending consignments of equipment and protective clothing etc. . Christine emphasised that the group has benefited greatly from the help of several local health professionals, including local doctors in the UK.
    Rev René Jarrett thanked Richard for all the work that had gone into the report and the draft strategy, and the Link for its efforts to help Hastings Sierra Leone.
    5. Membership Renewal. Bill reminded us that £5 annual membership is now due. (Please contact Bill Evans on or 01424 427265.) If anyone would like to commit to ‘regular giving’ in the form of a small monthly donation via the Charity Choice button on our website, that would actually cover life membership, too.
    6. Treasurer’s Report. Ray reported on our income and expenditure for 2014. Income included items such as £800 from HBC for Ebola educational material for distribution in Hastings and the surrounding villages; some £2871 for the sale of quiz sheets and quiz night; £3487 from the Ebola Appeal; £1265 raised by Dain’s Beachy Head Marathon and over £2500raised by the Big Jump; over £2000 from the jumble sale (including £1000 match-funding donated by a generous Christ Church School parent); two anonymous donations of £2000; and donations from others including St Helens Church, Halton Baptist Church, and the Church of the Good Shepherd, Romford. After expenditure of over £25,400, we ended the year with net income of £3,853. These figures do not include monies relating to the exchange trips and the teachers’ collection. Note that we spent £12,700 on the perimeter security wall for the Health Centre, which, in the light of the Ebola crisis, was money well spent. Other major items in 2014 were the cost of a shipping container (£3424), the first round of food aid (£2,650) and further work on the health centre (£2650).
    The accounts were duly accepted and signed off.
    7. Ownership of the Twin Towns Centre: Derek gave a résumé of the position. It was clear in February 2014 that ownership of the TTC needed to be legally established so that nobody could take control of the centre. The registration document is now nearly ready to be signed, but it must state who the owners are. The SLHA(UK) proposes that ownership be registered in the names of both the SLHA and the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link. Derek reminded the meeting that when we handed the TTC to the village in 2010, we undertook to cover maintenance costs for a year or two, but expected the TTC to be self-financing, thanks to the visitor accommodation built in. Would the Link being named as co-owner mean that the Link would be liable for future maintenance costs? Yvonne insisted that the only issue was to get the building legally registered. The meeting took advice from Richard Lane and agreed to consider the matter urgently at the next general meeting (on July 15th).
    8. Election of Officers: Since the current members of the Executive Committee (Richard Homewood, chair; Derek Tomblin, vice-chair; Bill Evans, membership secretary; Ray Keene, treasurer; and Robin Gray, secretary) are willing to continue, and since no other nominations had been made, the meeting agreed nem con that the Executive Committee should continue unchanged for a further year.
    9.AOB: (i) Lynn thanked Richard for his very successful year’s chairmanship of the association, and in particular for the draft strategy. As a fervent believer in the importance of the Link’s work with schools both in our town and in Hastings SL, she valued the importance the strategy gives to education, which is in great danger of being lost sight of in the present climate.
    (ii) Mohammed was concerned that waste management did not figure in the strategy, and was keen to see our work in this area being developed. Richard advised that he would continue to work on this issue but it might not fall within the Link strategy
    (iii) Rebecca asked why the contact with the Kissy Technical Institute had broken down, and whether it could not be re-established. Richard replied that, although the students had been very interested in the bio-digesters and Mohammed Kamara had said the technology would be included in the curriculum, we now seem to have lost contact with Mohammed since the Ebola crisis. Richard will do his best to make contact again.
    10. Date of the next ordinary general meeting: Wednesday 15th July at 6.05 in the Town Hall, Hastings.

    Richard thanked our friends from London for supporting our meeting yet again, and Yvonne and her team for providing yet another fine African meal.
    The meeting closed at 3.25pm.

    Another great Link football tournament!

    Monday, May 25th, 2015

    Richard writes:

    The Link's info stand (with the new banner)

    The Link’s info stand (with the new banner)

    Friday saw St Mary’s Star of the Sea footballers victorious in both the boys and girls group matches at the Friendship Link soccer tournament on a rather windswept and chilly Friday afternoon. Jackie and Sue leapt with delight as their teams were presented with the trophies but everyone who participated put in a huge effort and all received well deserved tournament Medals kindly donated by Eve Martin and presented by Deputy Mayor, Judy Rogers.
    It was a huge success even though our friends from Sierra Leone were unable to attend due to the Ebola outbreak. Our thanks must go to Roger and Theresa for organising the event, to Ken Dullaway and his FA Youth Council Team for their help and the Sierra Leone Association members from London who travelled down with African food for the event.   Well done everyone!

    Cheering the boys & girls on

    Cheering the boys & girls on

    “African Evening’ on Friday 10th July

    Sunday, May 24th, 2015

    Our friends at St Leonards Rotary Club are continue to raise funds for the Hastings Health Centre, specifically for a solar panel array which will back-up the other forms of power available.  Their next event is an African Evening, with music by King Masco and his troupe, and an African supper by Yvonne and her team. It will be a great evening. Please tell your friends about it – and book a table, of course!Africa Evening_2

    Jeremy Birch

    Monday, May 11th, 2015
    Greeting schoolchildren in 2007

    Greeting schoolchildren in 2007

    Jeremy as Quizmaster

    Jeremy as Quizmaster

    All friends of the Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link will have been deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jeremy Birch.

    Jeremy played a key role in the Link’s development. He was the first, as Leader of the Council, to propose that the strong bond being forged between the two Hastings should be recognised in an official twinning. The idea gained all-party support, and Jeremy was present at the twinning ceremony in Hastings SL in 2007 to see his idea become reality.

    For a time he generously combined chairmanship of the Link with his many other duties and interests. In the difficult financial climate of recent years he steadfastly argued in favour of Hastings Borough Council’s continued support for the Link’s work. Above all, he championed a clear vision of the Link as a two-way relationship, with both Hastings learning from each other in friendship and mutual respect.

    Of course, we will always remember Jeremy as the witty and energetic chairman of our annual Quiz Nights. He will be very, very much missed.

    Robin Gray

    Great Quiz Night raises £1785 for Ebola relief

    Sunday, March 15th, 2015

    Richard writes:

    Link Annual Quiz Night a roaring success! Hot on the heels of the Rotary Club quiz night, the Link’s Annual Quiz Night held at William Parker School was a roaring success raising £1785 on top of over £1,000 raised by Nola’s quiz sheet sales. 33 Teams struggled valiantly with Robin’s questions and the Blackbirds were victorious scoring 102 but only 3 ahead of their nearest rival. Our thanks go to Nola and all of those in the Quiz Team and to William Parker for hosting the event. Generous auction items kindly donated – including £250 of carpeting by our patron Dain Jensen, a bottle of House of Commons whisky signed by David Cameron and donated by Amber Rudd MP,  and a voucher for ‘Posture assessment’ – raised over £350. Our thanks also go to all those who attended and contributed to this successful fundraising event.

    The Quiz in full swing

    The Quiz in full swing

    The Winning Blackbirds with genial Questionmaster Jeremy Birch

    The Winning Blackbirds with genial Questionmaster Jeremy Birch

    The money raised will help us provide more short term help to the community in Hastings SL as they struggle to maintain their daily lives alongside Ebola. We are also beginning to look beyond Ebola and plan what we need to do to help them rebuild their lives and recover from this dreadful disease. Please keep the donations coming, every penny will reach the community in Sierra Leone and just a few pounds can make such a huge difference.

    Rotarians raise over £1000 for solar panels for the health centre

    Thursday, February 26th, 2015

    Last night St Leonards Rotary Club ran a terrific quiz night at the Elphinstone Sports and Social Club. Twenty-odd teams battled it out, answering John Easter’s clever questions as posed by Michael Foster, the genial quizmaster. Michael valiantly nursed the PA system until it finally gave up the ghost. In the end, old hands The Searchers pipped their nearest rivals by just 2 points. The raffle raised over £350 and a little auction £60, taking the evening’s total to over £1000, which goes a long way towards Rotary’s aim of raising £3,500 in the year with which to pay for solar panels for the community health centre. The Link would like to thank Eric, John and the team of markers and number crunchers from St Leonards Rotary Club, and Dave Pepper and the Elphinstone Sports & Social Club team for their hospitality and hard work.  STOP PRESS. We still have a couple of tables available for our own quiz night on March 13th. It’ll be at Ark William Parker Academy – amazing AV equipment. If you’re interested, act quickly – contact Nola on 01424 751295 or



    The command centre at work

    The command centre at work

    Some of the winning team

    Some of the winning team

    Orange Quiz Sheet – the winners and the answers!

    Friday, January 16th, 2015

    Phew, it’s all over! The Quizmaster’s woolly hat has turned up 3 winners from the 18 fully correct entries we received. They are:

    1st prize: Hilary Coulson of Pinner, Middlesex

    2nd prize: Pam & John Robbins of Battle, East Sussex

    3rd prize: Bill Ross of Aberdeen

    This year we had 79 entries in all,  from all over the UK, from Somerset to Skegness, and from Cwmbran to Selkirk.

    Here are the answers (and some explanations) for this year’s Orange Quiz Sheet. (Entries had to be in to us by yesterday.)

    It’s hard to say exactly how many sheets we sold, but we raised over £1000 – partly because quite a few kind people paid more than the £1 we asked for. All that money will be turned into food parcels to help families affected by ebola in Hastings Sierra Leone to survive. A big thank you to Nola and her team who sold the sheets for us.

    We hope you all enjoyed solving the clues as much as the setter did dreaming them up.

    Quiz sheet 2014/15 – answers, with a few explanations of the trickier ones. (Apologies for a mistake in earlier copies of the sheet: nº 69 (Schweitzer) needed 10 letters, not 9. Hope that didn’t spoil things for you.)


    1. NHS ( – the even letters of ‘inches’)
    2. Red Cross
    3. Guy’s
    4. WHO
    5. Médecins sans Frontières
    6. stretcher
    7. corridor (corrida minus –a + or)
    8. ENT (end of the word ‘patient’)
    9. surgery (hidden in patientS URGE Rye)
    10. bedpans (B.Ed + pans = criticises)
    11. x-rays (x = 10, rays = flat fish)
    12. plaster cast
    13. enema (your: = your colon)
    14. syringe (hidden answer)
    15. nil by mouth (fast = take no food; nil = Nile minus –e. )
    16. rounds
    17. the bleeding time (in ‘Doctor in the House’)
    18. placebo (plaice minus –i- [iodine] plus b[ody] o[dour])
    19. keyhole
    20. toxin (sounds like tocsin)
    21. splint (splinter minus –er)
    22. bandage (band + age! the Stones were formed in 1962)
    23. temperature
    24. autoclave (Auto + cave with –L- in it. Whole thing is a steriliser)
    25. skin grafts (s= southern, plus kin, + grafts = works hard)
    26. blanket bath
    27. rectal thermometers (anagram)
    28. waiting room
    29. appointment (app[lication] ointment)
    30. receptionist (reception is also the first class in an infants school)
    31. stethoscope (2 anagrams)
    32. sphygmomanometer (anagram – it measures blood pressure)
    33. ninety-nine (- this is clue nº 33)
    34. depressor
    35. general practice (various grades of general are just above brigadier)
    36. house calls
    37. appendix (anagram)
    38. patella (kneecap: Pat [Boone] + Ella [Fitzgerald])
    39. pancreas ([Saint] Pancras plus –e- )
    40. knuckle-bones (children’s game)
    41. elbow
    42. collar bone (nick = collar [arrest] + bon + E)
    43. mastoid (anagram)
    44. glottis (OTT inside [not outside] glis: glis glis is scientific name for dormouse)
    45. prostate
    46. trachea (answer hidden in extra cheap)
    47. coccyx (cox + six. coccyx means cuckoo in Greek – bone like bird’s beak. Cubs are divided into sixes.)
    48. angina pectoris (anagram)
    49. enuresis (anagram of i.e. nurses)
    50. diarrhoea (anagram of Air Rhodesia minus –is-)
    51. scurvy
    52. whitlow (WHITe + yelLOW)
    53. psittacosis (viral disease of birds)
    54. haemorrhoids (anagram)
    55. asthma (anagram)
    56. bed sore (anagram)
    57. MRSA (anagram)
    58. nurse (hidden, backwards, in shoES RUNning)
    59. chaplain (chap + lain)
    60. almoner (almond minus –d , plus er…)
    61. surgeon (sturgeon minus T for time)
    62. physio (sounds like fizzy eau. shortly = short for [physiotherapist])
    63. consultants (consult + ants)
    64. Hippocrates (hippo + crates)
    65. Pasteur (pasture has the –e- at the end)
    66. Lister (developed antisepsis. to list = to keel over, of a ship)
    67. Crick & Watson (discovered the DNA double helix)
    68. Nightingale (Florence N)
    69. Schweitzer (sounds like the German for Swiss, even though he wasn’t)
    70. Nye Bevan (anagram of Benny + Eva. ‘top of chart:’ see clue nº 1 – This Welsh politician devised the NHS)


    Ebola Campaign: our Chairman (and others) for the high jump

    Tuesday, November 11th, 2014


    Here is Richard’s account of their amazing jump to raise funds to fight Ebola in Hastings SL. (If you didn’t get around to sponsoring them, there’s still time!)

    Matt, Richard W, Richard H, Hollie & Ellen

    Matt, Richard W, Richard H, Hollie & Ellen

    Oh no!

    Oh no!

    Here we go!

    Here we go!




    Well we finally did it! Fifth time lucky for the five of us (Richard Homewood, Matt and Hollie Lockwood and Richard and Ellen White), but only after a bit of last minute forecast watching and date swapping. Saturday was forecast as a washout so we managed to get a Sunday slot and set off in the wind and rain at 5am not sure if we would jump. As the journey went on the rain stopped and as daylight approached we started to drive into fog! Not looking good especially when just before we arrived we got a text to say don’t come till 11am because it is too foggy! Undaunted we arrived just before 8.00am to see the airfield shrouded in mist and fog. It did seem to be clearing though and confidence was growing. In anticipation of a long wait we ordered breakfast and then just as it arrived at the table we were called to get kitted up! Typical! Breakfast had to go as we were not going to miss the opportunity. We kitted up and after a refresh of what to do we headed for the plane in nervous anticipation. Everyone was laughing and joking and full of confidence as we climbed higher and higher, until the door opened that was! Watching the first two being shuffled to the door and hung out as the camera man swung from the wing the laughter turned to a grimace as it was my turn to be pushed forward. Then that was it we were out but once we stopped rolling the sensation of hurtling to the earth at over 130mph was incredible, the view was unbelievable and shaking hands with the cameraman in free fall was bizarre.

    Then after 5,000ft we jerked upward (or actually slowed down rapidly) as the parachute opened and things calmed dramatically and we gently dropped to earth soaking up the view and chatting. Then it was time to prepare for the landing and discussion about leaving legs in holes if we didn’t get it right! A quick rehearsal and then all too suddenly we hit the ground, sliding in gently thankfully onto some pretty soft grass, adrenalin pumping and cheers and shouts as we congratulated each other. An amazing experience and one I would repeat, but more importantly we had overcome our fears for the sake of the charity and the people we want to help in Sierra Leone where they are now suffering the ravages of Ebola directly in addition to their daily struggle. And that is where you come in and we are all extremely grateful for your generosity and support for the cause. We expect that we will have raised over £2,000 in total once it is all collected, but there is still time to donate if you or your friends want to. In case there is any doubt we have all paid for our own jump and all of our other expenses out of our own pockets, so every penny of the money generously donated will go directly to the charity and to the community in Hastings, Sierra Leone, and make a difference.

    Thank you once again for your generosity.  Please check on the website at <>  for updates on our work with our friends in our twin town Hastings, Sierra Leone.

    Richard Homewood, Richard White, Ellen White, Hollie Lockwood, Matt Lockwood

    Fundraising Cheese Fest – whatever next?

    Sunday, November 9th, 2014

    Jo Avery (a work colleague of Roger Reed who is married to Diane, one of our teachers) ran a Cheese Fest last week at the Department for Transport, where they work. Jo writes: “People made cheese scones, straws, brought in all different sorts of cheeses and someone even made homemade cheese! My friend came up with the idea of a “Say Cheese” baby toddler competition, where we brought in photos of ourselves and had to guess each other. We even had colleagues from our London office switch their day to Hastings to be involved.” Apparently they went for a cheese based event as a change from a coffee & cake morning. They raised £167 for our Ebola appeal (and wisely gift-aided it!), which is a great boost. It should pay for 3 sets of protective gear for the Health Centre staff.Scruptious cheesy spread at the DoT

    If anyone out there has a good idea like this one and would like to raise some much needed funds for the Link’s work in Hastings Sierra Leone, please don’t hesitate!  It’s clear from all the reports that are coming from journalists and medics in Sierra Leone, that there’s already a huge need not only for medical supplies but also for humanitarian aid to support hungry families and, saddest of all, orphaned children.  We don’t know the exact picture for Hastings, but we need to be ready to give the help that’s needed.