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Completion of the Shoal Bench 2018

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Bank Holiday Monday dawned bright: the sun rose in a cloudless sky and by 11.30 Splash Point at the foot of Seaford Head was thronging with people waiting for the celebrations to start:

The ever-popular Pop-Ups were in full voice and full seaside fig, dreaming of marrying a lighthouse keeper and hoisting up the John B sail.

At midday Peter White aka Seaford’s booming Town Crier gave the summons for the crowd to gather at the jetty.

And there, meandering in the sunshine after the final stage of installation, was revealed the completed 35 metres of Seaford’s first beach sculpture, the monumental mackerel shapes of The Shoal community memorial bench. Brainchild of inspirational gardener Gabby Tofts and local sculptor Christian Funnell, swimming along its length are hundreds of sprats, sardines and herring plaques, each with a message of remembrance or celebration.

In the presence of the Mayor, Linda Wallraven, tributes were paid to the hundreds of sponsors whose purchase of the plaques made the project possible. Included among the speakers was our very own Hilary Miflin, Community Outreach Manager of Seaford Community Cinema, one of the first local organisations to sponsor The Shoal with the acquisition of a large mackerel plaque.

Hilary spoke of the importance of mutual support among community organisations and acknowledged the crucial role played by supporters in bringing success to all such endeavours. She also took the opportunity to remind people of our very first film festival, dedicated to Women & Film in this anniversary of the granting of women’s suffrage, due at the end of the month. Standing next to MC Roger Daw, here she is, brochure in hand.

Formalities completed, the striking up of Seaford Silver Band heralded the lifting of the barrier to let the crowd surge onto the jetty for a closer look at the finished Shoal.

But as everyone settled on the beach afterwards to enjoy fish and chips from the ‘Salty Sea Horse’, Seaford’s vintage horse box, and a glass of something sparkling, the work was only just beginning for the cinema festival leafleteers present, including our youngest, 11-year-old Raphael, grandson of Hilary and Ben Miflin. Showing a savviness beyond his years, note his careful positioning at the entrance to the jetty!

Lastly, in the words of the song:

Oh Sussex, Sussex by the Sea
Good old Sussex by the Sea
You can tell them all that we’ll stand or fall
For Sussex by the Sea!

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