Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Remembering Together

Like many on Sunday, I took part in an act of remembrance and it was particularly significant being the 100th anniversary. As I stood in the watery sunshine by the war memorial at St Mary’s Church, Funtington, it was hard to imagine the huge sense of relief that must have been felt by so many who marked the end of the First World War at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  For many, though, the relief must have been marked by great sadness at the deaths of so many. So it is a fitting tribute to the many who died in that war and wars since then, that we commemorate those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The 100th anniversary has been marked in so many ways this year culminating in the last month with tremendous poppy displays including at our Record Office. Poppies were lovingly made by members of staff and volunteers – those who care and look after our precious records of days past.

At the end of the War our freedom was maintained but also greater freedoms were brought with the Act of Representation. Incredibly many men who went to valiantly fight in the First World War were not eligible to vote as they did not own property, and of course at that time women were not allowed to vote either. As a result, the number of men eligible to vote went from 5.2 million to 12.9 million and the female vote amounted to 8.5 million. So the ending of the First World War also ushered in a welcome period of social change too.

There were a variety of afternoon and evening events arranged across the county, many including the lighting of beacons. In Bosham, before the beacon was lit, a local choir sang a selection of war songs to a Church packed full of residents young and old -  some even with their dogs. The sense of a community coming together to respectfully celebrate the centenary of the dawning of peace and new-found freedoms bounded round the Church walls as everyone joined in with “We’ll Meet Again”. It was a very special moment for me to be part of a community united in peace with itself, to commemorate a peace long-prayed-for 100 years ago.

Monday, 22 October 2018

Tackling Plastic On The Ground

I know I keep saying it but West Sussex is made up of some amazing communities. There are groups of people everywhere taking action to help their community in some way.

Take for example Amanda Hine who has her own business ‘Message in a Bottle’. She has set up the Litter Ladies of Chichester who are really doing their bit by running litter picks and, more importantly, raising the issue of single use plastic in and around Chichester.  Discarded plastic is seriously damaging our environment, choking our seas and harming wildlife.

I joined them on Saturday afternoon to clear a footpath running along the City Walls and Prebendal Playing field. Now this is a busy footpath next to the Lavant river bed – at present dry. Although this area had a thorough litter pick three weeks ago, in just under an hour, we filled eight bags of mainly plastic rubbish. There were bottles, crisp packets, sweet wrappers, sandwich cartons, plastic bags- it really was an eye opener.

Clearing the river bed was particularly important because when the river starts running again all that plastic would have gone straight out to the sea.

The pick was really enjoyable and I was made to feel so very welcome by the other Litter Ladies. A couple of highlights of the hour included a young lad out with his family who helped us collect litter and a man who gave us a couple of empty beer bottles, because the litter bin had been vandalised and was overflowing.  
What is abundantly clear is that we are facing an ever-rising tsunami of plastic. The recent Blue Planet and other documentaries have made everyone more aware that we are being choked by plastic and we should try to do our bit to reduce our use of it. 

I will continue to litter pick and look forward to joining the pickers again soon. There is a huge amount to be done to reduce our reliance on non-biodegradable plastic which stays, not for decades, but for so much longer.

I have several reusable water bottles and am delighted that WSCC has joined the Refill Scheme (it’s an easy-to-use app and it is free too). I use a soap bar not liquid soap in a plastic bottle and I find greaseproof paper works just as well as cling film. I avoid using plastic bags in the supermarket - in fact I would prefer paper bags.

I would really like to hear from you about how you are changing your use of plastic. What plastic are you doing without? If we can all make some changes in our lives, not just for a short time, as "every little helps" to quote one major supermarket. But companies have a really big and important role to play too.  Do we really need all that extra packaging? I really don’t think so.
Now here’s one final ask from me – don’t drop your litter – take it home and put it in your bin – let’s make a real effort to be a cleaner, greener West Sussex and to all those litter pickers across the County – thank you. You are amazing to give up your time to keep the local environment nicer for everyone.

As I once read – tread lightly on this planet –we are just life tenants here and should leave behind a planet that all who come behind us can enjoy too.