New Year - 2008
Standing in the freezing wind collecting money for charity on the corner of William Street and Mortimer Street, while motorists sweep blithely and illegally up the "pedestrianised" shopping road and potential donors scurry past heads down, it would easy to take a jaundiced view of Herne Bay life.
Not so. The mean-spirited bureaucrats may have banned the rattling of collecting tins as "intimidatory" but those same tins now carried silently outside supermarkets and shops and on street corners still fill not just with coppers and silver but with pound and two-pound coins and folding money as well.
Herne Bay is a town with a huge and generous and fiercely beating heart. Survey with pride the number of good causes that benefit from the donations of those who, not infrequently, themselves have barely enough to meet their own needs. Look at the array of voluntary organisations backed by a veritable army of townspeople who give willingly of their time and energy, that contribute financially and practically to the requirements of those who need their help. Consider the clubs and associations, and their dedicated and long-suffering committees that arrange meetings and take minutes, organise social diaries and functions, that run the social life of this Town.
The community’s churches, Anglican, Catholic and Non-Conformist, go about their god-fearing and god-loving business in harmony and in an entirely proper way. Over this Christmas and New Year they will have contributed hugely not just to the spiritual but to the emotional and practical life of the small coastal town and surrounding villages that they serve not only on high days and holy days but throughout the twelve months of the year.
It should be small surprise that the Little Theatre in Herne Bay topped the poll in the People’s Lottery bid. The town came out and voted in droves for its own and for just one of the organisations that it has taken to its bosom because that organisation gives so much pleasure to so many.
Those too-frequently caricatured "drug-taking, foul-mouthed, fornicating, anti-social" young people of the Town play, also, a huge part in a very caring and social life. Miss Herne Bay and her Court - and this year’s has been exemplary - and those behind them do not simply parade in pretty frocks, dance and win prizes. They work hard and often in very inclement weather to bring colour and joy and fun and laughter into some otherwise drab and neglected corners of life and to help to raise still more funds for charity.
It is the uniformed young people of the town, also, who are there when a hand is needed. At Carnival, the Hospital Fete, Winter Festival, Remembrance Sunday and other public occasions they do their turn. And in nominations for the Kent County Try Angle Awards the young people of Herne Bay feature prominently.
Suzy and I have neglected, to some extent, our volunteers during this past year. A garden dug up for the laying of new drains, the weddings of two sons and the acquisition of two daughters-in-law and a boisterous Newfoundland puppy as a playmate for Lulu, seem to have eaten into the social agenda just a little! We may have been denied the much wished for General Election but we have a great deal to reflect upon with great pleasure during 2007. I have no doubt that we also have much to look forward to in 2008 when, hopefully, normal domestic and social service will be resumed. In the meantime, heartfelt thanks to all of those who do so much to help keep the town clock ticking and, from Suzy, our extended family and myself, our very best wishes for the New Year.