“THE Queen got it right again, focusing her Christmas message on the essential items in all of our lives: family, friends and community.
“She observed that family stretches wider than our immediate family and I am sure this is true for us all.
“This has been a difficult year, full of uncertainty and with difficulties at home and abroad. But also with hope, as communities have pulled together and families support their neighbours as well as their blood relations.
“There is reason to be optimistic despite the many commentators who predict gloom.
“We have an abundance of local talented people with energy and enthusiasm who work on specific projects bringing new investment into the town, such as the pier, and the Jerwood Gallery.
“In Hastings over Christmas our community has really pulled together to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
“Pat Fisher of Gizmo ran her first Christmas lunch for children in the new St Leonards site, and was overwhelmed with volunteers on the day.
“At the YMCA in Bohemia Road, the Surviving Christmas operation worked with its customary military efficiency, delivering more than 500 food hampers to the elderly and housebound. And then provided approximately 120 meals a day for all comers on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Tuesday.
“They too commented when I visited and joined everyone for lunch, at the wonderful number of volunteers who came, particularly on Christmas Day.
“But when I asked what it was that the visitors most wanted from Surviving Christmas, I was told it was the friendly smile and welcome that was most appreciated.
“I know we can all give and receive that during 2011. That’s my wish for New Year. Oh, and that Military Wives stays at No 1 for many weeks to come...”