Hastings Sierra Leone Friendship Link

Minutes of the Link meeting of 17th January 2019

Present: Edwin Rew, Martin Copland, Cllr James Bacon, Richard Lane, Ray Keene, Richard Homewood (chair), Derek Tomblin, Christine Boulton-Lane, Nola McSweeney, Lynn White, Roger Mitchell, Mandy Hinxman, Sandra Stephenson, Isabel Hodger, David Lewis, Robin Gray (minutes)

  1. Apologies for Absence: Braidie Paton, Cllr Nigel Sinden, Paul Cabban, Liz MacKay, Asif Khan, Jacqui Homewood, John Geater
  2. Minutes of OGM of 4th October 2018. Robin apologised for omitting Ray from the list of those present. The minutes were accepted. There were no matters arising that would not be covered in today’s meeting.
  3. Chairman’s report/ Sanitation Project update. Richard first welcomed Sandra Stephenson (who has a particular interest in education) and David Lewis (who has wide-ranging experience from years spent in Africa working with NGOs).

Richard has written to Yvonne and Yvette about the management of the Twin Town Centre. We are receiving some accounts, but they are not clear, and are not regular. There is no rolling balance, and we cannot see what income is being earned. The money we sent for a replacement generator (some £1900 after commission) arrived too late, but the money is there for when another opportunity to buy a generator arises.

The Sanitation sub-committee has decided we should start with a pilot scheme (at Jui Lower, since it apparently has no water or toilets) and roll the idea out subsequently, involving the school communities so that they take ownership of their facilities. Richard has written to the headman and to Frederick Coke. The headman asserts that all the schools have water now, but we will need to get that confirmed.

Searching for possible funding sources, Robin has contacted Welthungerhilfe, a large German NGO, which has replied that it has carried out a water project in Hastings and is interested in meeting us to discuss working with us on sanitation. Perhaps WHH can help us to find a project manager. Robin to explore this.

There was some discussion on the useful fit of our sanitation project with the British Council-funded work on ‘zero waste’ that all our schools are engaged in in 2019. Sandra pointed out that the fact that our schools are working on zero waste might inspire HBC to get involved. Richard will contact Cameron Morley, HBC’s Waste Services Manager, and then Biffa, to discuss possible involvement. James will find out if HBC is still a member of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum, which funded Richard’s original work on biogesters and waste management in Hastings SL.

  1. Treasurer’s Report: Martin presented the latest figures. Both accounts are in a healthy state. There is a further £200 to come from the HSLAA fishing-on-the-beach event on Boxing Day; and a generous no-strings donation of £250 from Asif Khan.

Although we have lost the Brighton Academy schools, they have mainly been replaced, so that there should not be much of a shortfall to make up when it comes to Francis’s honorarium.

  1. Education Report: See Annex A. Isabel explained that schools now put in a request for a BC “Connecting Classrooms” grant as a cluster. This means a huge amount of work for the lead teacher in each cluster (Mandy at All Saints, and Faith Rew at Guestling Bradshaw). Fortunately, the detailed work on risk assessments was already done by Roger and Isabel. But there will have to be a big effort put in to organising the mandatory ‘community events’ on the zero waste theme.

Isabel reported that Kris Cymer, the IT manager at Claverham, will be part of the group going in February. He will be installing one small IT set-up and running an IT workshop. Claverham is sourcing a solar panel in SL. Meanwhile, SolarUK of Battle are in touch with Kris, and it looks as though they will be able to provide some future equipment or sponsorship. We have asked Kris to look at the possibility of solar panels in the TTC.

Isabel will use the 6 SL teachers who came here in October 2019, to help run her workshops this February. It was agreed that Isabel should take extra cash with her so that she can meet the expenses of the teachers’ programme, etc, in February.

  1. Health Report: See Annex B. It was agreed that Christine should take a further £500 with her in February for health centre contingencies. We hope that the group will be able to bring back photos of the latest improvements at the health centre, so that we can up-date that section of the website.
  2. Fundraising events:

            (a) Dinner-dance.  Everyone agreed it was a huge success. It raised over £3000.

(b) Orange Sheets.  The latest figures indicate we cleared around £600. Now that they can be bought from our website using Paypal, we sold 61 on-line.

(c) Quiz Night March 15th.  Nola reported that she has already had 21 table-bookings (out of a maximum of 35).  We shall need lots of help on the night, and raffle prizes, with the accent on quality rather than quantity.

(d) Other:

– We are likely to have a Music Quiz in September (Lynn will check with Lesley Ann) .

– James will ask if Ted Bacon is able to offer us a wine-tasting evening in, say, July.

– Sussex Brass will give us a concert on Friday 24th May. Details to be worked out.

– Roger reported that the traditional inter-schools football match is uncertain. Teresa Bennett has not yet had a response from the Sports Dept at Claverham.

– We discussed the possibility of some of us going to the London Association’s dinner-dance on February 9th. Anyone who is going should let Richard know (richardhomewood@sky.com) . The Londoners always support our events, and would appreciate our being there for their 25th anniversary celebrations.


  1. AOB. (a) James asked if we pro-actively look for opportunities to speak about the Link to local groups. In fact, a number of us have responded to such requests in the past, and are happy to do so at any time when approached.

(b) Lynn suggested that the quantities of African clothing that we seem to have accumulated over the years could be divided between our schools for the children to use in Africa-related events. Would people let Lynn know what they have that could be used in this way (lynnwhi@live.co.uk), and she will co-ordinate things.

(c) Mandy suggested that we would be welcome to use the facilities at the HSLAA for meetings, though it was thought that it is easier to hold ordinary meetings at, say, St Barnabas’s, which we have to ourselves.


  1. Dates of meetings. It was agreed to decide on the dates of further Link meetings in 2019, to make it easier to secure bookings. Ordinary meetings will be held at St Barnabas’ Church , Hoads Wood Road, Hastings at 7 pm on 21st March, July 25th, September 19th and November 21st. The AGM will be held at St Helen’s Church Hall, The Ridge, Hastings on Saturday 11th May at 1pm.

Annex A:  Education Report

New Schools

We are pleased to welcome Sedlescombe and St Mary Magdalene School in Bexhill as the 11th and 12th member of our partnership. We have one or two other schools who might join us in the near future.

October Reciprocal Visit

Six schools welcomed teachers for the visit in October accompanied by Francis Mason.

They were:

Battle and Langton – Cordelia Sannah – Jui Lower

St Leonards Academy – Sylvanus Huggins – Huntingdon Secondary

Battle Abbey Senior School – Christiana Palmer – Kellys

Christ Church CE – Osman Kamara – Kankalay

All Saints CE and Dudley – Jo James Kaindo – Edest

Hollington- Serrah Conteh – Jui Upper


It was a very successful week. The Sierra Leone teachers spent 5 days in their schools, working alongside their partners. They were very keen to learn about education in Hastings UK and took lots of good ideas back with them to try out in Hastings, Sierra Leone. They attended a full day workshop on ‘What Makes a Good Teacher’ hosted by Battle and Langton School. To end the day, Kitty Davey at Battle Abbey arranged for a guided tour of the the abbey and the battle field.

Other activities included a very interesting tour of The Old Town led by Kevin Boorman, some crazy golf, a meal with Alison Baines, a meal at Mama Putts in St Leonards, and a wonderful Farewell event hosted by Christ Church CE.


British Council Connecting Classrooms

Four schools were successful in achieving a British Council grant as part of Cluster 1.

These included

All Saints (Lead Cluster School with Mandy Hinxman taking the role of Lead Cluster Teacher)

Claverham Community College

St Leonards CE

St Pauls


We are just applying for the next Cluster of schools (Cluster 2) to include

Guestling (Lead Cluster School with Faith Rew taking the role of Lead Cluster Teacher)

St Mary Magdalene


Battle and Langton



We may have enough schools to make up a third cluster later in the year.

Unfortunately there will be no teachers from Cluster 1 visiting in February 2019 as the cost of flights was too expensive when trying to book at the last minute.  So they will join Cluster 2 teachers to visit in 2020.


Isabel will go out in February 2019 to continue to partnership link, run some workshops, visit schools and hopefully meet with some Education officials in the REC and the new Head at the British Council.

Also going will be Kris Cymer, IT manager from Claverham, who will be working with Huntingdon Allentown to set up a computer with solar panel, and lead some training for teachers on how to use it effectively. He may also be able to work with other schools, or even with the Twin Town Centre if time.


The British Council grant is very demanding this time round and at our next meeting on 29th January we will be putting together an Action Plan for all schools to make sure we complete all the activities required. Our whole partnership project is ‘Zero Waste’ and we will be doing activities such as beach cleans and celebration events to engage the community as well as the schools.  Our partner schools in Sierra Leone will also be doing community activities, and sharing ideas with us here in UK.

We hope to bring some of our Sierra Leone teachers over in summer 2019. We will try to coincide their visit with some of the activities mentioned above, plus the annual Soccer Tournament which Roger is working on.

Isabel Hodger

Annex B:


The last meeting of the sub-Committee was a working party on the 20th December to pack the items in the twelve boxes which have recently been sent via Rockel Shipping to the Health Centre to arrive before my arrival next month.  The items include the usual gowns, and dressings etc donated via Melanie from the Conquest Maternity Department;  Binta had requested in particular suture materials, dressing materials, pain killers,  glucometers to check for diabetes and disposable gloves all of  which have been included    These items have been provided by my team to whom I am extremely grateful.  Without them it would be very difficult to work as we do to provide what is needed at Hastings as well as undertaking to help with the building.  We have also sent the usual baby knitwear, blankets and teddies which I know will be gratefully received.  Well done our wonderful band of knitters here in Hastings and Bexhill!  We have included a box of items from the Conquest Hospital which are unlikely to be used at Hastings but hopefully will be useful to the Connaught Hospital in Freetown to where some of our patients are sent.

I am very pleased to report that the remedial building works at the Health Centre should be completed by the time I arrive.  You may remember that we had to replace rather than repair the roof over the original part of the building.  The exterior is about to be painted in white and blue – and I am very much looking forward to seeing what was, at best, a tired looking building, much improved.  The alteration to the original estimate does mean that we need to increase the amount which is now required to enable completion but under the circumstances, I believe, is justified.  We have sent £3,500 so far towards total costs of approximately £5,500 including generator repair and securing the water supply (not included in the original estimate).  Evidence of work done to date has been seen and the situation will be updated on the visit by me with photographs on all the work done when I return. ( It was agreed by the meeting that a further £2,000 should be sent immediately to Binta to cover the final costs and that I should take a further £500 with me to be used if/as needed).

We am so grateful for the support we receive from friends and the local Churches here  and  I never cease to be amazed that I am sometimes given money for doing what I like doing best ……. Talking!  (£100 had been donated  from my last talk)

Finally, an extremely large thank you must go to Ray, Liz, Derek, Edwin, John,  Melanie Southwood,  Eve Martin and Chris Chinnery without whom we would not be able to achieve the things we do.

It is hoped that the sub-Committee will meet shortly after my return in early March to discuss my visit and the future needs of the Health Centre.

Christine Boulton-Lane