It was a grey, misty, mizzly morning and I must say that a stroll along the seafront wasn’t looking that attractive. But on the way to the start I stopped off at the Martlets Hospice where nurses Ginny and Evelyn came out and gave me a wave.
The Martlets was the reason FSH was started 25 years ago and so this greeting made all the difference.
In 1995 a group of volunteers, myself included, organised a Christmas Fair to raise money to help with the building costs. Later, when the Martlets was operational we continued running the Fair, distributing proceeds to other Sussex hospice care providers; we now support 13 hospices across Sussex. Until that time, I’d never been inside a hospice so decided to volunteer at the Martlets doing various roles and, after a few years, I joined its Board of Trustees. Through this involvement I witnessed the dedication, professionalism and expertise that hospice care encompasses. Today the Martlets has 18 inpatient beds and, like most hospices, the majority of their care is delivered in peoples homes. Running costs are £7 million of which 28% is government funded.
Much encouraged and starting at Shoreham Station the route took me through a residential area, passing St Julian’s Church, Shoreham College and the Sussex County Croquet Club at Southwick (where a planned Croquet Day last year for FSH had to be aborted due to torrential rain and flooding.)
By the time I reached Shoreham Port it was blowing one hell of a gale but as I crossed the bridges of the Lock I have to admit it was quite exciting – walking alongside the port, deserted except for a man fishing on the dockside.
Although unfamiliar to many people there’s been a port here since Roman times and after the Norman invasion it was one of the largest cargo handling ports on the south coast.
A little further on I was joined by my friend Francesca and her husband Philippe. They had walked from Hove – into the headwind – to meet me. It was lovely to catch up as I hadn’t seen them for ages. They took a photo by the colourful beach huts and as we walked and chatted the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful morning – although the wind continued to rage.
A little way further along we saw Super Mario running towards us – full pelt into the turbulent headwind – his costume was ballooning out and he almost took off like a kite. His name was Pete and was running a 10k – we took these photos before he hurtled off on his way.
At Marrocco’s we met Sue and Pete Korman and had a delicious (distanced) coffee. Sue Korman was the brains behind the Sussex Hospices Trail back in 2016 and it was her ‘throw-away’ suggestion that inspired me to do this walk! I’d always intended to walk the whole trail……but sometime in the future and certainly not in one month!
Then I continued alone, propelled by the caffeine and the galeforce wind, past the remains of the rusty West Pier and the gleaming 531 ft steel needle that is the i360.
Walking up West Street I popped into Mountain Warehouse and bought a lighter mini backpack advised by Jon and Ieva, the very helpful sales assistants. After all, there are 21 walks to go!
I finished today’s walk with a rare selfie!
There really wasn’t much space for meditation today but it felt so good to meet and laugh with friends although strange and restrictive not being able to hug one another. Touch is so fundamental to human communication. A caress of the arm, holding a hand – these everyday gestures we usually take for granted – are more important than we think -it’s our primary language of compassion, which is why hospice staff are struggling with the current situation. Nursing staff are finding physical distancing and having to wear PPE difficult as these are counter cultural to the essence of hospice care, where touch and facial expression are so important.
This walk was so different from my previous pastoral and coastal walks. Shoreham Port was fascinating and the buzz of Brighton in the sunshine was so exhilarating!
My thanks to Judy and Les Salvidge from Local Fuels Shoreham Port who sponsored this section of the Trail in loving memory of Judy’s mother, Yvonne Harvey. I stopped for a few moments at the plaque the family had erected for her on the trail and remembered the sunny day in August 2016 a group of us gathered to unveil it.