Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Minutes of latest Link ordinary meeting

Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Minutes of Ordinary General Meeting of 25th July 2019


Present:  Edwin Rew, Malcolm Brewster, Derek Tomblin, Ray Keene, Richard Lane, Isabel Hodger, Roger Mitchell, Lynn White, Christine Boulton-Lane, Bill & Eileen Evans, Anne Brooks, Richard Homewood (chair), Robin Gray (minutes). Eve Martin is not able to attend meetings but sends her best wishes. (Richard welcomed Malcolm Brewster, who has a background in community nursing and has been involvement in Buckswood School’s Swaziland trips; and Anne Brooks, who has a secondary schools maths background and is looking to support Isabel.)


  1. Apologies: Cllr James Bacon, Nola McSweeney, Liz MacKay, David Lewis, Mandy Hinxman, Martin Copland.
  2. Minutes of AGM (11th May) and of OGM (21st March) were accepted, with any matters arising being covered in today’s meeting.
  3. Chairman’s Report: Richard summed up the Trustees’ recent deliberations. We are making water the initial priority in the Sanitation Project. He has written to all schools asking them to get quotes for a borehole, where they are not eligible for connection to a nearby mains. (Three schools are fortunately able to be connected, and we will fund that.) Isabel outlined the situation of each of the partner schools. 80% have responded to a letter we sent and will now be urged to push on with getting quotes.  Richard is in communication with Yvette & Yvonne about the best way to get money to the schools.                On the Twin Town Centre, we have not had the feedback we were hoping for from the visit that Olu Palmer and Rev Edwin Jarrett made to Hastings. We are convinced that the community must take responsibility for the TTC and not always look to us for funds. It was agreed that we would be prepared to consider what percentage of any bill we could cover, if the TTC management provided a good case for works and detailed quotes.                                                                                                                                                   Roger reminded us that we had asked Rev Jarrett to obtain a wreath on our behalf for the funeral of Victor Campbell, and that we must reimburse Rev Jarrett. Richard to find out how much we owe.
  4. Treasurer’s Report. In Martin’s absence, Robin presented the balance sheet Martin had prepared, together with some explanatory notes.  It was agreed that it would be useful in future if the balance sheet could be accompanied by the spreadsheet showing what is allocated & committed.
  5. Schools Report.  Isabel reported on a very successful visit from 5 SL teachers in June (- though travellers must be warned in future about carrying perishable goods in their luggage).  See Appendix A for the full report. The group going to Hastings next year will be so big (about 24) that it will be difficult financially for the Link to block-book the flights on the teachers’ behalf. Since the British Council grants are with the schools well in advance (in the hands of the two cluster-leading schools), there is no reason why the schools cannot pay up front for the air fares.  (We are still waiting for two schools to pay £700 each for last year’s exchange. Roger is pursuing this.)                                                                                        Roger reported on how well the soccer tournament went at the new venue – Bulverhythe. We are sad to be losing Teresa Bennett, and hope that she can establish a contact for us with the person responsible for community sport, before she goes. The Observer has now published an account of the tournament, and an account of the teachers’ visit will appear soon. (Yes: see p.44 of the Hastings Observer of 26th). The 2020 visit from SL teachers is likely to take place in late September/ early October, since our summer term is so busy.                                                                                                                                               Michael Foster is still pursuing a freedom of information request to find out how the Brighton Academy group made its decision to pull suddenly out of the schools’ consortium.  Battle & Langton was praised by Ofsted for its global curriculum work. Isabel will write to B&L to ask for an article to post on our website. There could also be an article in the local press giving an all-round view of the ‘zero waste’ work in our schools, and the impact that is having on the children’s learning. Christine reported that children and parents coming into A&E speak enthusiastically about their school’s contacts with Sierra Leone.
  6. See Appendix B for Christine’s full report. It is now clear that the small Family Planning building will not now be used as a waiting room for TB and AIDS patients. There would surely be room for a dedicated building in the grounds of the Health Centre at some future point. Christine is working on getting updated photos of the Health Centre, and useful statistics on issues such as number of live births etc. There was another discussion about the cost of shipping goods out as against simply purchasing them in SL.   Isabel thought that quite sizeable quantities of school stationery etc are always carried over by teachers in their second suitcase. The meeting agreed that the free medical supplies we are given may well be worth the cost of shipping. Derek and Christine will measure the volume of the boxes of such supplies Christine is storing and get a quote.
  7. Events: (a) Lynn : the wine-tasting evening raised a remarkable  £667. It is still popular, and Ted Bacon is happy to continue to give his generous support, so it looks as if we can go on running it on an annual basis.                                                                                   (b) Music Quiz: Robin – Everything in hand. He will email a poster round when it is ready and hopes members will publicise the event as widely as possible and get teams together.                                                                                                                                                  (c) Sierra Leone Association day trip to Hastings on August 10th (11 am to 7 pm).  If Link members could drop by Wellington Square Baptist Church hall, especially at the start and end of the day, to make sure everything is going smoothly, that would be appreciated.

(d) Sierra Leone Association Thanksgiving Day:   Sunday September 8th. (We tend to leave around  12, the service is from 3pm onwards, followed by a convivial meal.) The Londoners support us magnificently, and we should support them, too. If members would like to come, would they contact Robin so that he can see what car-sharing is possible (robin.gray1066@gmail.com).

  1. AOB: (a) Isabel has some beautiful African cushions/ cushion covers for sale. We share the profit with Abie Mason’s charity, empowering young women by teaching them skills. Contact Isabel on isabelandkev@me.com                                                                            (b) A band has offered to run a barn dance as a fundraiser. Does anyone know a good venue for a barn dance? A barn on a farm? It would have to be within easy reach of Hastings. Any ideas: please contact Richard on richardhomewood@sky.com                          (c) Christine has heard that the old airport site at Hastings is now to be the site of a works handling gold and diamonds.  Perhaps that will bring some prosperity and jobs to Hastings.
  2. Dates of next meetings: Next ordinary general meeting is on Thursday September 19th at St Barnabas’ Church (Hastings) at 7 pm. The Trustees meet on September 14th at 10 am.

Appendix A:  Education Report for OGM 26th July 2019

 Reciprocal Visits

Five teachers from Hastings, Sierra Leone arrived on 15th June for their planned visit accompanied by Francis Mason. Sadly, one teacher was unable to get her passport in time. However, she should be able to visit next year.

The following schools hosted

St Mary Magdalene RC – Emelia Macauley, Beckley Preparatory School

All Saints CE – Bernadette Ramu Will, Edest Preparatory

Sedlescombe CE – Patricia Kamara, Jui Upper Primary

Claverham Community College – Sia Lovetta Mbayo, Huntingdon Secondary, Allentown

St Leonards CE – Trevina Lee, Baptist Model Primary

It was a full programme as usual, teachers spending 4 days in their schools and one day at a workshop run by Isabel, and hosted by Battle Abbey (Thanks Kitty for organising this). It was not without mishap … losing a case in transit, and recovering it to find stale fish and fruit seeping through the contents! Apart from that everything went smoothly. The usual Morris Dancing, Crazy Golf, visit to the Mayor’s parlour, meals out and a very successful welcome event at St Helens, (thanks for all your hard work Roger) and farewell BBQ hosted by Richard Homewood (thanks Richard and family).

The workshop introduced some ideas for school improvement and at the end of the week a Reflection Meeting allowed partners to work on an Action Plan, and Paired Support Plan. It has been very gratifying to see What’s App communication showing this working in practice with Bernadette and Patricia. Sia had an INSET day with her staff last week too. Small steps working towards sustainability.

We have been collecting names of teachers from UK who wish to visit next February.  Eleven teachers are entitled to travel through the British Council grant. Most schools are keen to use left over British Council money plus a contribution of £300 from HSLFL to allow a second teacher to travel. Isabel now has an almost final list of 23 participants for February 2020 and still waiting for a final 2 or 3 to respond. We already have the names of all but one of the Sierra Leone teachers travelling in 2020. At the Teachers Meeting the possibility of moving this to September 2020 was discussed. Isabel is still investigating whether this is possible.

British Council projects

Schools in both countries continue to work on Zero Waste. All our schools now have Eco Warriors who have been busy keeping staff and children on their toes.

Christ Church have been very busy with an African Disco planned, a Green Day with no electricity use allowed, Forest School planters, raising awareness during Sports Days and creating art from plastics. They are also working on ‘plastic bricks’ linked to an Internet initiative. Zoe had brought along an example.

Battle and Langton’s Ofsted report mentioned the valuable contribution that the Sierra Leone Link was making to the school.

Claverham are working on the Hugh and Anita’s ‘War on Plastic’ to raise awareness.

Sacred Heart are changing all their lighting to LED and are planning plastic art based on Quentin Blake’s pictures during Story Telling Week in the autumn.

Sedlescombe have had an assembly, school litter picking event and a focus on re-cycling.

There was also discussion on collecting crisp packets for recycling, on line training for Sierra Leone teachers using Francis’s new IT suite, and African cooking lessons in Francis’s new canteen!

On July 2/3rd Faith and Isabel attended a British Council training in Birmingham (Mandy had planned to come but sadly had a family bereavement). The training was designed to prepare Cluster Lead teachers for their role, including training other teachers. It was intense and brain stretching, and we have given feedback on aspects of the training to British Council.

At the Teachers Meeting schools agreed to receive training during the autumn which will lead participants to receive a Global Teacher Award.  This training will be carried out by 18 Hours, our local Adviser, specific dates to be arranged as soon as possible.

Soccer Tournament

This was a huge success this year. The change of venue to Bulverhythe playing fields with a café and easy car access was a silver lining of the cloud of Brighton Academies leaving the link. The teams all played well with good support from parents. Theresa Bennett organised the event for the final year using Bexhill Sixth form students to referee. We are hoping that we can continue this event, the teachers were all very enthusiastic at the Teachers Meeting recently, and are willing to help organise if Theresa’s replacement is unable to do so.

Isabel Hodger.   16/07/19

Appendix B: Health Report

Minutes of HSLFL Health Sub-committee held 1st July, 2019

Present :-   Christine Boulton-Lane, Dr. Chris Chinery, Liz MacKay, Derek Tomblin, Ray Keene, and Edwin Rew     Apologies:-  Melanie Southwood and  John Geater

Update re Health Centre

Christine reported on the latest position with regard to the Health Centre.

Binta Bah has advised that the building that was going to be used for TB/Aids patients has now been allocated for Family Planning. CBL had suggested to Binta that consideration be given to a new building for the Aids/TB patients within the Centre grounds and was hoping that Binta would take this forward. However, to date, no comments or figures have been received despite follow up by CBL

A discussion followed concerning the lack of information regarding the use of the Health Centre. If details of births/TB patients etc and feedback re diabetic checks were advised on a regular basis the Committee would be able to make a fully informed recommendation to the Trustees.

If we are unable to get this information from Binta the Committee wondered if it would be appropriate to contact the District Medical Officer with whom CBL had established a good relationship when they met. We are conscious that Hastings is not the only centre under the control of the DMO.

It was suggested that evidence of the work recently funded by the Link including the tiling and decoration should be displayed on the Link website. Also before and after pictures of the chairs supplied from the Conquest and recently refurbished in SL at the instigation of Binta Bah.

At present the Committee does not have any specific plans for the Health Centre but recommends that we continue to support this essential work. To this end CBL will be requesting an update from the Treasurer as to the sum set aside for Health purposes. Donations for this purpose come from talks undertaken to local groups.

The next meeting has been set for 9/9/19 at 10.00 Glenwood, Old Roar Road.

All updates will be recorded in the Minutes of our meeting to be held 9.9.19