HASTINGS Arts Forum threw a surprise party for chairman Harry Lyons, who stands down at the end of this month.
Volunteers and members of the forum handed over some tokens of their appreciation at the party last Sunday, including a bottle of Champagne and a Taschen book “Paris”.
Harry, who plans to begin his retirement from the forum in that European city, was taken aback.
“It was a total surprise” he said. “I thought it was just a volunteers’ barbecue, I had no idea.”
Harry took on the role of chairman in 2009 at a time when the gallery was facing enormous financial difficulties.
His committed and hands on approach lifted the organisation and re-established it as a serious arts centre.
He said: “We are at a watershed now having become a charity.
“The forum needs a new vision to forge ahead with fresh energy and get more engaged with the local community, particularly the younger talent.
“If that happens, the future for Hastings Arts forum is good.”
Stephen Gray, an architect and historic buildings consultant, is the designated new chairman, subject to being elected onto the board of trustees at the AGM.