COLUMNIST: Mike Mendoza, chairman of Adur Council, on Christmas goings-on

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AS I sat down to write my column, I realised that this is the last piece before Christmas. I have spent several days, off and on, dressed as Santa, so it should have dawned on me earlier!

The feeling of goodwill around the district is quite moving as I attended events as myself and events as Santa. So may I take this opportunity at this time of the year to ask you to think of others, maybe a neighbour who may be alone in their home with no family or friends to turn to, who may end up for days without seeing a sole. Maybe an elderly relation who you have not seen or made contact with for a long time, how about just a phone call to say hello and wish them a very happy Christmas?

Last Saturday, while out in the town centre dressed in my Santa suit, a little girl called Mia came up to me with a Christmas card, I found that so moving. Thank you Mia, I will make sure that the real Santa receives the card.

It’s amazing what a red suit and a big beard can do to children of all ages, at least it made a lot of people smile. Santa has also been visiting various venues around the district, including the Shoreham Centre, and he is looking forward to being at the Fishersgate Centre on Sunday.

I never cease to be amazed at the talent on show at the Sir Robert Woodard Academy on the Lancing/Sompting border. Only a few days ago, we were entertained by their steel band and singers at the Herald Community Stars Awards, this time the academy had its own awards ceremony and once again the musical talent sprung out of the woodwork, as you would expect from an institution that is specialising in the performing arts. A 60-piece orchestra performed several popular pieces, and then we were mesmorised once again by the quartet of classical vocalists and, of course, not to forget the excellent recipients of educational awards.

While at the academy, I had great pleasure in chatting with Alison Lapper MBE. Alison presented prizes to the winners. We discussed disabled facilities in the area, Alison highlighted the ‘gap’ in the boardwalk along Shoreham Beach and how much she would love to be able to travel in her wheelchair all along the beach. She also commented on how difficult it is to access various outlets in Shoreham and the rest of the district. We agreed to get together in the new year to discuss how we can improve access for those with disabilities in our community.

I mentioned in my column last week how much I was looking forward to the concert at the Shoreham Centre over last weekend and I was not disappointed. The Shoreham Singers By Sea, founded by Herbie Flowers in 2009, excelled themselves. The 100-plus line up of singers sung their hearts out to a packed audience with music from the shows, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Abba and Christmas carols. I am already looking forward to seeing them again next year.

I had the pleasure of performing the opening of the brand-new YMCA training facilities in Fishersgate. My, how this organisation has changed over the years from virtually a youth club to what it is today, a grown-up group of dedicated people helping to get young people trained and into work. The offices are open every weekday with a fully-qualified team of 37 people.

This is where I take the opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas and a great new year. I will be out and about visiting people who are working over the festive period and thanking our own Adur staff for the many hours of work that they put in to make our district the place to live and work.