My walk started in Alfriston where was ‘seen off’ by Jimmy & Fran.
I think these canine send offs might have something to do with my posing by signsposts they frequent! I chatted with their owner, Nick of Emmett & White Antiques, told him about my walk and then headed off across the Cuckmere River and up on to the Downs. It was grey and murky again today and it got greyer and murkier as I climbed up the track onto the Downs. Once up, where my guide notes promised some fabulous views, all I could see was mist – visibility was about 50 metres – such a pity as I know this walk has some stunning views.
My path took me across the Folkington Estate which brought to mind a fabulous summer concert hosted by Harry and Jacquie Brunjes at Folkington Manor in 2015 where Alexander Armstrong and Jonathan Veira performed. Harry and Jacquie have been great supporters of FSH over the years. Another Folkington resident, David Dimbleby, endorsed FSH’s very first Mad March Hospice Quiz for us in 2014.
I trundled on down into Jevington – a pretty, sleepy village which has nestled in this narrow valley for a thousand years. I dined here with friends at The Hungry Monk, home of the Banoffee Pie, many years ago. It is now a holiday cottage. Climbing out of the shelter of Jevington, back up onto the Downs, the weather had not improved! There was a blustery wind and needle-pin rain and I was grateful for my Berghaus waterproof jacket with its very protective hood. Without the distraction of scenery – or any sheep or cattle – I was able to get into the rhythm of simply walking and going within – my mind kept interrupting – but I managed to switch it off for a little time.
On the approach down into Eastbourne I recalled the last time I was in this spot – it was three years ago when I came to do a photo shoot with some of the gorgeous young tennis stars participating in the Eastbourne Tennis Tournament. FSH has been the chosen charity of the tournament for the past four years – this would have been our fifth but, like most events this year, it was cancelled.
I came off the Downs and into Eastbourne along its deserted promenade. The sea was grey and rough but at least it had stopped raining. Our charity has many connections with Eastbourne though its Chamber of Commerce; The Grand Hotel has been particularly supportive over the years, hosting away- days, meetings and supporting our fundraising events.
On my way back from the walk I called in at St Wilfrid’s Hospice where Chief Executive David Scott-Ralphs, Medical Director David Barclay, and members of the nursing team greeted me and posed for a photo.
It felt very odd holding a conversation wearing a face mask. Apart from briefly donning one for shopping, I hadn’t done this before and it brought home to me a little of what front line staff have had to get used to and how difficult it must be for them and their patients. It must be especially difficult for people with poor hearing – my hearing is not 100% and I unconsciously lip-read. It also made me aware of how expressive our eyes are, how we connect and smile with them.
St Wilfrid’s serves a population of 235,000 people covering an area of around 300 square miles. It receives 35% Government funding. The inpatient unit has been at full capacity and hospice at home care has increased hugely over the past three months.
While I was there, Val, one of St Wilfrid’s long-standing volunteers called in with cakes she’d made for the staff. I was given a slice which I munched in the car on the drive home – it was scrummy!
Walk 8 of The Sussex Hospices Trail was sponsored by Jeanette Swayne in memory of her husband Tim. They both loved walking and enjoyed the flora and fauna of this beautiful area together.