A mighty throng filled All Saints Street in the Old Town on Saturday evening (December 19) as the Winkle Club’s inspired procession of remembrance wended its way behind a lone piper to Winkle Island.
Working under the title of A Christmas Time To Remember, representatives from the RNLI, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, Hastings Fishermen and the Winkle Club were joined by civic dignitaries who included the mayor, deputy mayor, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff of East Sussex.
Before the procession got under way from the Priscilla MacBean site in Old London Road, Father Robert Featherstone together with Father Ronald Partridge (Old Town Parish Priests) said a few words of remembrance and reminded the crowd of its seafaring history, particularly in the Old Town.
The procession with its banners, wreaths and light-sticks made an impressive and yet sombre site as it arrived on Winkle Island.
Once more as wreaths were laid, the crowd was asked to recall those no longer with us but still very much remembered.
Carols were sung by the Sea Cadet Choir and hot soup and rolls were then served.
Every branch of the Trees of Messages which had been placed on the Island, had an individual message for a family member or loved-one who had served in the RNLI, The Coastgards, as Fishermen or Winkle Club members.
Richard Stevens, vice-chairman of the Hastings Winkle Club, said: “The evening was made even more poignant by the fact that the date fell on the 34th anniversary of the Penlee Lifeboat disaster when 16 died in 1981, including eight volunteer lifeboatmen.”
Pauline Lindsay, chairman of the Winkle Club’s fundraising committee, said: “This event proved that there was a real need within the Old Town to recall those who have gone before and gave so much to our community.
“We are pleased to have been able to meet that need in this small but significant way.”
Richard Read, chairman of the Winkle Club which organised proceedings, said: “The event seemed very well-received and if all goes well this could turn in to an annual Old Town Act of Remembrance. I certainly hope so anyway.”
The Winkle Club is more than 100 years old, being founded in 1900 by Hastings fishermen to help the under-privileged families of the Old Town. Apart from some specially selected residents, Winkle Club members have included personalities such as the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, Lord Montgomery, Sir Norman Wisdom and Sir Winston Churchill.
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