In glorious early August sunshine – and surprisingly light wind – people flocked to the Western Lawns for a family day of fun at this year’s Friends’ Summer Fête.

In her opening remarks, the Mayor of Eastbourne, Cllr Janet Coles, commented on how important our fundraising would be in the coming few years now that the renovation work on the outside of the Devonshire Park Theatre is underway and the 130 year-old building would be watertight at last.

We could not have wished for a more perfect day for this event as holidaymakers and the people of Eastbourne joined the Friends to enjoy the array of stalls, games and a varied programme of entertainment.   The takings for the day at around £3,500 were testament to how deeply everyone dipped into their pockets to test their skill, try their luck or acquire treasures to take home.  Toys, Pandora’s Box and, of course, the cake stall proved very popular.

But trade was brisk throughout and demand was so high among the twenty-odd stalls on offer that many sold out! There are always those willing to try to win a bottle of spirit or wine in the raffles and the tombola proved extremely popular.

There was a true carnival atmosphere on the Western Lawns as people sat in the sunshine enjoying the entertainment and some refreshment, delicious ice cream or a cool glass of Pimms.

The fête had started with a bang with the arrival of Stix Drummers in their dramatic black and purple costumes.  They stayed on for much of the day circulating around the fete and to do a further set.  As one of the pictures below, would indicate they went home with at least one new member!

The early crowd were lucky to be entertained by a display from the Shining Stars Dance Academy recently back from their success at the Dance World Cup and the afternoon carried on in true English fashion with the Band from the Little Common branch of the British Legion playing a medley of familiar tunes.   The entertainment was further enhanced by guitarist Mark Caira, Elemental Circus and the hugely talented Black Strap Molasses.

With plenty of fun for the children, including a funfair, storytelling, and several Punch and Judy performances, it was a truly family day out.

Ray Sparks (Mr Punch & Judy) with Chairman, Lesley Raven

Friends’ Chairman, Lesley Raven, was pleased to present Eastbourne’s Mr Punch & Judy, Ray Sparks with a bottle of champagne to mark twenty-five years of his show on the Eastbourne seafront.

Lesley and her committee are delighted with the outcome and thank everyone involved: the teams of helpers in setting up and running the event and the many visitors who came along to support it. And, of course, the weather helped!

Chris Jordan with twins Kevin and Stephen Pallister



It was particularly good to welcome Friends’ Patron, Kevin Pallister with his family and twin brother Stephen and Chris Jordan and his wife Natasha.  Kevin, Chris and Natasha were of course, taking time out before the matinee performance of Round and Round the Garden at the theatre that afternoon.

Also there was old friend and Talking Scarlet actor, John Hester, who had done so much to promote the event at the theatre during the Murder in the Park series.