Life’s a beach in Ostend

Trush and Pat on the Hastings stand in Ostend SUS-150406-160228001
Trush and Pat on the Hastings stand in Ostend SUS-150406-160228001

Tourism in Hastings is set to receive a boost and attract more Europeans than ever to the town, after a replica of Hastings’ beach was set up at a major maritime festival in Ostend.

Representatives from Hastings Borough Council’s (HBC) marketing department set up the replica Hastings beach at the ‘Oostende voor Anker’ exhibition which ran over four days at the end of May.

Complete with a large picture of Hastings’ fishing boats, real Hastings beach (since safely returned), a local lobster pot and an authentic Hastings Borough Council deckchair, HBC’s marketing team was supported by John ‘Tush’ Hamilton and wife Pat, better known for their fishermen’s rolls.

Councillor Kim Forward, lead member for marketing at HBC, says tourism is vitally important to the town’s economy, and overseas visitors are especially valuable, because of the money they spend here. “So it was great that we were able to show off Hastings at this massive maritime show in Ostend, which attracts up to 250 000 visitors, from across northern Europe,” she said.

Tush said for many years he and Pat attended the event and cooked their fishermen’s rolls; which they still get asked for.

He added: ““Although we don’t cook at the Ostend show any more it is great to be able to still attend, meet old friends and make more new ones.

“I was also able to demonstrate net-making, which always attracts the crowds.

“The Belgians love Hastings, and we had visitors not just from across Belgium but from France, Germany and England too :- and were able to give all of them leaflets about The Stade in their own language, thanks to European funding.

“Pat and I were pleased to show off a lot of old photos of our fishing heritage and some lovely old model boats too. “Particularly appropriate was the model of our old lifeboat ‘The Cyril & Lilian Bishop’, which was used in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.

“Dunkirk is just down the coast from Ostend and a number of ‘the little ships’ attended the show after their recent 75th anniversary event.”