Observer Comment: Celebrating an extraordinary life

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THERE can’t be many people in the world who have designed a capital city and worked for the Sultan of Brunei.

There can’t be many who have survived a Nazi prisoner of war camp and one of Britain’s worst train disasters.

But quietly living among us and going about his daily business, not many people would have known about the fascinating life of Sydney Litherland.

Described by his nearest and dearest as a true philanthropist, he spent much of his career helping to rebuild the infrastructures of impoverished African states.

An ambitious young trainee architect, Mr Litherland was suddenly catapulted into battle and transported 2,000 miles away to defend Crete during the Second World War.

Captured and dispatched overland by train to Berlin in horrific conditions, he survived four-and-a-half years in a prisoner of war camp.

Then, when he should have been celebrating his honeymoon, he was caught up in a horrific train disaster which left him in hospital for six months - hardships which many of us will be unable to comprehend.

He then took off on an African adventure leaving his mark on the capital of modern-day Malawi before moving on to work for one of the world’s richest men.

But it was riches of another variety which Mr Litherland returned home with.

The experience of helping his fellow man and working with those worse off than himself.

His daughter is planning to publish his memoirs which are sure to capture our imagination and give us a better insight into the world of this extraordinary individual.

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OUR thriving community of artists, designers, and makers of all kinds is no secret, well at least not within the boundary of Hastings and St Leonards.

However, travel a bit further out, and some people would struggle to point to Hastings on a map.

That is why it is great to see the work of the local creative community recognised in London, with the collection Tasting Hastings on sale in Shoreditch throughout this month.

It can only benefit our town by getting the word out that we have much to offer visitors, and a unique culture to be celebrated, and dispel the myth that Hastings is just another seaside town that has seen better days.