Celebrating the good news about Ebola

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Christine, Richard and Edwin were invited to join a Celebration group
in London on Saturday 7th rejoicing over the WHO announcement that after
42 days SL was Ebola free.
They had the privilege and joy to meet Dr Oliver Johnson and some
of The Team who were in the front line hospital when Ebola broke out.

Dr Oliver Johnson

Dr Oliver Johnson

Stop Press! This year’s cryptic Orange Quiz Sheet is out!

Friday, October 16th, 2015

Every year we raise several hundreds of £££ with our famous (or infamous) Orange Quiz Sheet. This year the theme is Education – people, places, subjects, activities…from pre-school to university. If you like brain-teasers and cryptic crosswords, you’ll love this.  Anagrams, hidden clues, Spoonerisms, sneaky definitions: it’ll keep you puzzling it all out, for ages. Just the thing for the family to put its collective heads together over, at Christmas.  The sheets (only £1) will be available from the Tourist Information Office from Monday 19th October, or from Link regular members, especially Nola ( or 01424 751295) or Robin (  or 01424 436603).

Minutes of Link meeting of September 30th

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Minutes of Ordinary General Meeting of 30th Sept 2015

 Present: Eve Martin, Liz MacKay, Christine Boulton-Lane, Lynn White, Richard Homewood (Chair), Janet Jarvis, Derek Tomblin, Roger Mitchell, Edwin Rew, Nola McSweeney, Eileen & Bill Evans, Paul Cabban, Robin Gray (minutes).

  1. Apologies for Absence: Cllrs Nigel Sinden and Peter Pragnell, John Geater, Diane Reed, Jacqui Lockwood, Tom Collins
  1. Minutes of meeting of 15th July. Robin apologised for forgetting to run off copies of the last minutes (although they were circulated on 21st July). Nobody had any points to raise from memory, but if there is anything in the July 15th minutes that anyone would have liked answers to, please contact Robin on
  1. Treasurer’s Report: Ray presented the balance sheet for the period up to 27th September.

Donations included £2000 from the Church of the Good Shepherd, Romford, £102 from a kind parishioner, and £345 from Jo Avery’s ‘cheese fest’. The Music Quiz raised £558 after expenses. The Gold a/c is in a healthy state: it looks as though St Leonards Rotary Club will themselves be able to raise all the funds needed for rewiring the Health Centre. It is not possible to say exactly how much it will cost to send a container out in October: from past experience, the best part of £4k.

  1. Schools Report: Roger enlarged on the minutes of the most recent Teachers’ Meeting. Of the 12 schools that have a partner, only 7 were represented at that meeting. Roger is visiting each of the missing schools personally. We have lost Melinda and Sophie, our contacts at St Leonards Academy, and nobody has yet been found to take on responsibility for the link with Huntingdon. There is a possibility of a part-time teacher taking over from Nicola Banks at West St Leonards. The suspension of teacher exchanges because of Ebola has put a brake on partnerships. The British Council has withdrawn the 8 grants that were initially given for 2015. The ‘Connecting Classrooms’ scheme has come to an end, but a new scheme likely to focus on ‘individual teacher development’ should be announced in October.

Roger plans to go to SL in early 2016 (with a few others), and will take work from the schools. As the IPC (disappointingly attended by reps from only 4 of the schools) has agreed to do work around Human Rights Day in December, Roger will ask Francis Mason to get his consortium to do the same. The suggestion was made that there should be a Linked Schools Facebook page. Richard will look into it.

  1. Health (a) General update:   Some discussion of how to get the contents of the container, plus what Richard White has at St Paul’s, to Rokel in Rainham. The Working Group has been looking at prices, buying medical supplies in as necessary. David Lloyd of the Corby-Waterloo link is going to SL in November, will visit Hastings and report back on his impressions. We know that flood victims from Freetown are being relocated in Waterloo and Hastings, which must be adding to problems. Richard Lane will ask Sylvanus for an on-the-spot report. It is so regrettable that we don’t have a proper communication channel with the Headman.

(b) Electrical power update: Derek explained that installing solar panels at the health centre proves to be impracticable and too expensive. Peter Blackwell of Rotary is now in touch with 3 potential electricians and is urgently trying to get quotes. The grant from Rotary Inter national is safe as long as they have at least accepted a quote by the end of this year.

  1. Fundraising Events (a) Music Quiz. Everyone agreed it had been a great success, not least because of the genial way Richard asked the questions. Our thanks to Lesley-Ann Matthews who set the questions, and to Nola who yet again sold a lot of table-bookings.

(b) Dinner Dance 31st October at Bannatyne’s. Lynn reported that tickets are going quite well. She hopes we may reach 150. The final date for selling tickets must be October 19th. We have had a donation of £100 as a raffle prize, though more really good raffle prizes are needed. (Offers to . Michael Foster had suggested inviting Will Pooley to speak, but it was felt that we should build a whole event round him later in the year. Entertainment is already organised (The Kites, Liane Caroll) – people would not expect a serious talk at a dinner-dance, and Will Pooley would deserve more than just a few minutes. The dress code is smart dresses and suits (not just ‘smart casual’). Black tie is of course fine. Lynn has agreed a small concession with our Hastings Association friends. Robin will organise two buckets for a retiring collection.

(c) Rotarians’ Murder Mystery Evening: Friday 13th November at Crowhurst Village Hall. Teams of up to 6, entry fee £10 per head to include Ploughman’s supper and hot drink. Book via 01424 753656 or 07740 213780 or St Leonards Rotary Club is working so hard to raise funds for the Health Centre rewiring: please support this event – it should be good fun.

(d) Ideas for 2016: Lynn has an idea for a wine-tasting event – perhaps combined with a talk from Will Pooley? Robin reported that he has started work on the traditional Orange Quiz Sheet. It was agreed to run the annual quiz night on March 11th, if the right venue is available.

Nola reminded us that Dain Jensen, his son and 8 friends are climbing Kilimanjaro on behalf of Charity for Kids. Dain has a Just Giving page at .

  1. Draft Strategy: Richard outlined his thinking behind the document. We are in danger of stalling, because of Ebola, and we need to restate a clear vision and goals. He has identified 3 themes: education, health and livelihoods – 3 strands which work together. He agreed that Christine is right to say that our vision needs to be based on what the village itself perceives as its needs. In relation to creating employment and livelihoods, Richard envisages our providing basic funding for a villager to set up as, say, a hairdresser, or for a simple craft or manufacturing enterprise. It has been disappointing that the biogas scheme, which was offered to Kissy Institute as a fully developed project and could have led to a really useful enterprise, has not been taken up.

On education, Roger has already contributed idea to the second draft of the document. He urges that we be realistic, have achievable targets. He hopes that a younger person would come forward to run the educational side of the Link’s work, for the sake of continuity. Practicing teachers are under huge stress, so a teacher who is just retiring would be ideal.

On livelihoods, Derek wondered where we would find advice and expertise.

Liz suggested that some of our linked schools might come up with a simple business idea.

Richard suggested that in reality one would need someone to go out there for a few months to help set schemes up.

After some discussion of possible ways forward, it was agreed that the Trustees should meet in order to take on board these and any further suggestions, to tidy the Strategy up as a basis on which to consult with the Hastings Association (UK) and with the village. When Roger returns from SL early in 2016, having met with the SL headteachers at, say, the British Council, we will organise a conference with our own teachers and headteachers. A separate meeting on health and livelihoods should perhaps be organised in London rather than Hastings, since it is always our London friends who have to make the journey.

Richard will discuss with Yvonne and Yvette the possibility of a London meeting.

Roger to add a brief overview of the schools links for the Where are we now? section.

Richard summed up our aim: to help the village to achieve permanent, sustainable change in the three areas. Eventually we should have a document that can be presented to local businesses with sponsorship in view, and can be used as a basis for grant applications to major funding providers like the Big Lottery Fund or Comic Relief.

It was agreed that the Trustees would meet on November 14th at 11am. Lynn very kindly invited the Trustees to meet at her house.

  1. AOB –

 9. Date of Next Meeting:Wednesday 25th November (and not the date we pencilled in at the meeting)

Charity Ball – October 31st

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Charity Ball gold 7 2Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link  presents an amazing CHARITY BALL in aid of our Twin Town on 31 October 2015 in the Montgomery Suite, Bannatynes Hotel, Hastings. Enjoy good food, great company and fantastic entertainment from London born, Hastings raised, award-winning jazz singer-pianist Liane Carroll and superb local band, The Kites. Bring along friends and family and take a table of 8 – 10 people and have a great evening, whilst raising funds for a good cause. Don’t miss out, book early as places are limited.
Ticket price includes three course meal, a glass of bubbly and of course the entertainment!
For further information or to book tickets contact Lynn on 01424 853356.

Music Quiz fundraiser a great success

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

We had a great MUSIC QUIZ NIGHT recently, with the questions set by Lesley-Ann Matthews. 17 teams battled it out to show off the breadth (or otherwise) of their musical knowledge. Richard kept things going at a cracking pace with great good humour. Michael, in his inimitable style, auctioned a very nice watercolour that artist Keith Collins had donated.

The Winners!

         The Winners with Lesley-Ann (far right)

After expenses, the evening raised a healthy £558. The winners were ‘Grinling Gibbons’, who just pipped ‘Unit 4 + 1/2’ after a nail-biting finish and a sudden death tie-break question. Our thanks to everyone who came, and to everyone who worked so hard to make the evening a success. Look out for our Big Quiz Night in February or March 2016!

Rotary Club’s Africa Evening a Great Success

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

AFRICA EVENING A Great Success! A great time was had by all at the Rotary Club’s Africa Evening at the Elphinstone Sports and Social Club on July 15th. Guests were entertained with African music and singing and dancing by King Masco and his African Dancers. Bruce Forsythe look-a-like Derek Tomblin played his cards right to help raise funds for the Rotary Club’s Health Centre project. Yvonne Johnson and colleagues from London provided a banquet of traditional Sierra Leone food

In full swing

In full swing


King Masco shows us how it's done

King Masco shows us how it’s done

Play Your Cards Right with Derek and Miki

Play Your Cards Right with Derek and Miki

. Funds raised will go toward re-instating and improving the lighting and power supply to the Health Centre in Hastings, Sierra Leone and our thanks go to Eric and his colleagues at the Rotary Club for their efforts. Thanks also to Yvonne and co for the excellent food!

Minutes of the Link meeting of 15th July

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015


Richard Homewood (Chair), Christine Boulton-Lane, Nola McSweeney, Edwin Rew, Bill Evans, Ray Keene, Cllr Nigel Sinden, Diane Reed, Janet Jarvis, Roger Mitchell, Eve Martin, Liz MacKay, James Bacon, John Geater, Tanya Kavanagh, Sue Furness (minutes).

Apologies for Absence

Robin Gray, Lynn White, Derek Tomblin & Jacqui Lockwood.

Minutes of OGM of 20th May and Matters arising

Minutes were agreed and any matters arising would be covered by the agenda.

Treasurer’s Report

Ray outlined the Treasurer’s Report. There had been membership fees (£50) paid by the London group and donations including money raised at the BBQ at the White’s house. Total funds £27477.10. Ray confirmed the Gold account (£14770.10) is purely for the Health Centre. (further details under ‘Health’)

Schools’ Report

Roger reported that the IPC meeting had been held earlier today. This was the last meeting of the year and the children judged their poetry. The IPC meetings are seen as an important way to keep the links strong. An article had appeared in the Hastings Observer reporting the IPC children meeting with the Mayor about the twin sign.

The Sierra Leone football tournament had been a great success, with St Mary Star of the Sea sweeping the board.

It was agreed that Theresa Bennett should be thanked for her organisation of the event. Roger to contact Ken Barne to source a gift up to £25 for Theresa along with a letter of thanks.

OVPA are now twinned with Maynard School in Kossoh Town. Mandy Hinxman is moving from Little Ridge to All Saints. The link will be managed by another member of staff at Little Ridge. St Leonards Academy – Roger is to meet Jenny Jones regarding who will continue the link there as Lewis has been promoted and Melinda is now a full time mother.

There will be no teacher exchanges next year due to the Ebola crisis although it may be possible for others.

At least 5 schools have equipment for the container.   Roger will try again to contact Richard White for a date for schools to move their boxes to St Pauls.

Communication with Francis has improved and he has been meeting with his link teachers. It is very difficult for them – morale is very low.

James Bacon thanked Roger for his recent talk at Blacklands.

Health Report


Christine briefly outlined the Health report (attached) from their meeting on 22nd June. She drew attention to the fact that Melanie Bray was no longer part of the Link and thanked her for her contribution.

The Health committee had met again yesterday and decided that although most of their ‘wish list’ could be purchased here, some things would be better to be purchased in Sierra Leone.   After Ebola, it is like starting from scratch and a real opportunity for us to do something. John Geater stated that more than 80 health workers in SL had been lost to Ebola and there was a reluctance to train to work in the health sector. Any child mortality gains over the last 10 years had been wiped out.

A discussion took place on committed funds from the Gold account and whether monies to be spent could be increased.

It was agreed that money to be spent by the Health committee in the UK could be increased from £2,500 to £3,500.

It was agreed that money to be spent in SL could be increased from £2,500 to £3,500. (Proposed by ER and seconded by JG).

Other funds committed from the Gold account – £1000 towards container cost and £3,500 for rewiring, leaving £3270.

It was agreed that photos were the best way of confirming what equipment had been purchased for the Health Centre from funds sent to SL .

Ray Keene stated he had received a letter about policies and procedures re payments to other counties. RH said we needed to be conscious that money going abroad is scrutinised by the authorities in connection with their counter-terrorism activity.

Liz mentioned the problems of IT equipment sent out being stolen. – Nigel will talk to IT dept at HBC re advice for security attachments.

Solar Panels

RH reported that he and Link colleagues had met with the Rotary club. The cost of a full solar power installation for the Health Centre would be £17-18K and there was a worry about the capability to maintain the system and maintenance costs. The logical conclusion would be to concentrate on rewiring so it is safe, use mains electricity and sorting out the generator as a back up for essential equipment. Rotary Club are focused on raising money for this.

RH has asked for quote on a small scale emergency lighting system run by solar energy (waiting for reply).

Outstanding electricity bills have now been paid so the Health Centre has power.

Fundraising & Future Events

The Rotary club dance had been very successful. Unsure as to how much money was raised.

Musical Quiz – 18th September

This will be held at St Pauls – the committee were urged to support it.

Charity Ball

31st October – this needs to be promoted. RH handed out flyers and poster. Need to encourage people outside the group to buy a table – an opportunity to introduce new people. Lynn is leading the organisation and the sub group will meet on 29th July. Raffle prizes needed!

Orange Quiz Sheets

Nola would like someone else to take over the orange quiz sheets (or at least help!).   RH asked everyone to think about it.


JG suggested carol singing.

JB suggested a float for the Hastings Carnival for 2016.

Cake sales.

Christine said she would like to host a garden party.

Nola suggested another quiz next year, maybe in the autumn.

Draft Link Strategy (Click here to read it in full or to download)

RH spoke about the impact of Ebola on schools. Education is the key to creating a sustainable future – we must help them help themselves. He outlined the draft link strategy which focused on four three key strands, education, creating employment and business opportunities, health and communication – Christine had input into the health aspect and Roger into the education side. RW and SF were also going to comment on the education side. Yvonne would be helping with consultation with the Hastings community in SL. We need to know and understand their priorities.   He stressed that if the link is to go on successfully, evolve and grow it needs a clear strategy which it can promote and publicise. RH asked all members to read through and give feedback at the next meeting but a vision for the future is essential if we are to continue to attract donations and potentially corporate sponsorship from local businesses such as Hastings Direct and/or Link Signs.

JG spoke of the need to have a ‘contract’ with SL – discuss their needs with them and create a partnership.

ER asked whether the Headman had been consulted. It was agreed that it would be really helpful if we could engage in a dialogue with him.

RH said Yvonne and Yvette were working on exchanging ideas with SL – may be through Cecil Coker, Sam French and others in the first instance .

Christine talked about raising the profile of the link and the town twinning. JB suggested a presentation at the Hastings Chamber of Commerce or other events.

RH and JB to meet to discuss how communication channels can be exploited and marketing opportunities.

Any Other Business


13th September, usual venue.


RM to contact RW re storage.

RH will contact the council re storage unit.

RH to also contact Yvonne re lead time.

Date of Next Meeting

Wednesday 16th September at 18.05 in the Town Hall.






  1. We again considered the list of equipment needed for the Health Centre, comparing the prices of items both in Sierra Leone and UK. We have agreed to purchase items including sphygmomanometers, stacking chairs and beds/mattresses. Liz and Chris will lead on this and request reimbursement from our Treasurer (initially up to £1,000 each). We have agreed that we will make purchases by the end of July in the hope that the Container will be arranged soon after that date. It was hoped that some money would be sent at that time to enable the purchase of some equipment that would be better sourced in SL and that we would be able to assist with the purchase of the remaining items when the next visit is made.
  2. Consideration was given to the section of the draft Strategy for the Link concerning Health. It was agreed that members of the sub-Committee would consider it and report back at the next meeting. An initial statement was that we should be asking the Staff at the Health Centre what assistance they would want from us and that it might be that concentration on Child Health including a dedicated ward for the treatment of babies/children might be the way forward.
  3. Disappointment was raised about the news that the ultrasound equipment had not been able to be used because of the unstable electrical voltage and Christine was asked to ascertain whether either a surge protector, dedicated small generator or an invertor would assist in enabling the use of this lifesaving equipment.


  1. Melanie Bray announced that she would no longer be a part of the Link although was happy to attend fund raisers. Christine thanked her for all the work that she had done for us and said she would be welcome to come to our meetings as and when she wished.


  1. It was agreed that we would meet again on TUESDAY, 14TH JULY at 11.00am at Glenwood.




This was an interim meeting primarily to discuss the purchases that were being made for the Health Centre.


  1. A number of items from the list of equipment required had been purchased and a number of items given free of charge, including such items as 2 laptop computers, 2 desktop computers and 25 chairs from the Conquest Hospital. It was felt that we needed to know when the container would be going as we would experience difficulty in storing items that had been given or purchased. The team felt that some items would be better purchased in Sierra Leone and would therefore wish that money would be available for this and a request was made for further funds to be made available for purchases prior to collection for shipment and it was hoped that the Trustees would agree to set a figure for both these requests.


  1. It was suggested that smoke damaged items might be available from the Hospice and an approach to the Hospice could prove fruitful.


  1. John Geater brought to our attention the recent report in the Lancet Global Health and stated that it was more important than ever before that in the aftermath of Ebola we should be helping the Hastings Health Centre in every way possible.



  1. It was agreed that we would meet again on MONDAY, 17TH August at 9.30am at Glenwood, SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION.







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.

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