Eastbourne, Wealden & Lewes

Category Archives: Local News

Does your child love cooking or are you looking to spark their interest by teaching your child foods of the world?

Then you’ll be excited to hear that a new cookery school is planning to open in Eastbourne. We spoke to former tv chef, and cookery writer; Lerato to find out more.

“I love bringing people together to share good food and part of my journey has been to teach people tips and tricks to becoming better cooks and taking the fear out of cooking. This has led to a food career in print, television and in the kitchen with our supper clubs, cookery classes and private feasts.

The cookery school has been running for a few years in Brighton and in London. Our Kids cookery club launched recently alongside the new cookery school in Eastbourne, after many parents wanted to bring their kids to the classes. While some have come along with their children, I felt the children needed their own dedicated space to learn and develop at their own pace.

In our kids cooking classes, your young chefs will learn tips for cooking healthy, wholesome and indulgent meals. Our parents & kids classes are also a lot of fun and great way to bond, teach and learn with your child.

The classes will inspire and equip them with cooking skills, knowledge of produce, sources of food and cuisines from around the world. My goal is to guide them as they increasingly develop cooking skills and gain independence. They will also learn teamwork, cleanliness and safety in the kitchen, all these while having a great time creating meals from scratch.

There’s nothing like this in Eastbourne and the surrounding area and I’m really excited to roll this out. I also organise kids cooking and baking parties, a great way to learn and have fun with their friends.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about Lerato’s classes, please click on the links below:

Lerato needs your help!


Your support will enable us to set up a permanent location where we can also run as many community-focused events as possible, using food for good. You can support us by choosing rewards to use towards booking your classes, events or gift cards!

All supporters’ names will be included on our Founders wall for all to see what you helped create.

Visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/eastbourne-cookery-school for full details!

Following success in Brighton & Hove and Worthing, Rugbytots has arrived in Eastbourne, so we spoke to Esther and Becks who are co-owners of the franchise for Brighton, Eastbourne & Worthing to find out more.

“We took over the business in November 2018 and have grown to 300 tots, managing seven coaches and five venues in Brighton, Eastbourne & Worthing. We run weekend classes and have recently been invited into schools and nurseries to run weekly sessions including after school clubs and curriculum time which is super exciting!

We’d had a number of enquiries from parents about Rugbytots from this area, so we started to look into how we could expand, and in September we launched our first Eastbourne classes at Cavendish Sports Centre.

Our classes are very popular and the Autumn sessions (for 2-3.5 years) is fully booked, so we’ve decided to add another 2-3.5 years class for winter sessions, which starts on 23rd November.

As parents ourselves, we know that finding a class that your tot enjoys is key. So, we offer free taster sessions and a two week money back guarantee, whereby if your tot doesn’t enjoy the class and the kit/water bottle hasn’t been used, we will give a full refund – something that is welcomed as peace of mind by our new parents.

We still have a couple of spaces left for our winter sessions in Eastbourne and we’d love to welcome new tots to the group!”

Find out more Rugby tots….

Rugbytots is a fun structured play session taking children on a journey of sporting imagination with engaging and energetic coaches supporting them every step of the way whilst teaching how to catch, pass, kick, run with the ball and play as part of a team.

Eastbourne classes are on Saturday mornings, at the following times:

  • 9am; 2 – 3.5 years
  • 9.35am; 3.5 – 5 years
  • 10.25am; 2 – 3.5 years

Classes are £7 a session paid in advance and pro rata and the winter sessions start on Saturday 23rd November and run until 15th February 2020 (11 weeks).


You can find out more at www.rugbytots.co.uk or from our Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/RugbytotsBrightonEastbourneWorthing/

Plans to change the way support is offered to families and young people will be presented to council leaders on Monday 7th October 2019.

The Early Help Strategy sets out how East Sussex County Council will spend £4.4 million on early help services and safeguard support for the most vulnerable children and families.

If approved, the revised strategy, which focuses an increasingly limited budget on services rather than buildings, would help target support to more than 2,000 families and young people at risk of needing social care intervention each year.

The proposals include offering early help services from 16 children’s centres and youth centres, and working with partners to maximise external funding for parenting support or parent peer mentoring groups and schemes.

Stuart Gallimore, director of children’s services at East Sussex County Council, said: “The proposals we are putting forward will help us target support to more than 2,100 families at risk of crisis each year, and around 500 vulnerable young people, and continue to offer support to all families of pre-school children.

“The draft strategy was drawn up following an extensive review of how we deliver services. We are grateful to all of those who have given feedback during the consultation period, which has helped us finalise proposals to concentrate on services for the most vulnerable.”

If approved, the Early Years Strategy would save £2.6 million while the council would continue to spend £4.4 million on early years services a year.

Under the revised strategy, 14 centres will no longer be designated as children’s centres. The county council will work with partners to identify an alternative provider of early years or education services to take over 10 of the centres.

Rooms at three centres based in externally owned buildings – Heathfield, Newhaven and at The Bridge in Hastings – will remain available for hire to provide services as needed, while Hampden Park children’s centre will close with services moved to Shinewater children’s centre.

The county council would no longer run two nurseries in Bexhill but would work with providers to ensure, where reasonably practicable, that there are sufficient nursery places in the area, as it does across the rest of the county.

While the council does not have a duty to operate childcare facilities, it will continue to run both Cygnets and Rainbow nurseries until September 2020 to provide increased certainty and continuity for families.

As well as Health Visiting services for pre-school children, all families in East Sussex would continue to have access to the School Health Service , the Family Information Service and improved online advice and information about the services offered by the county council.

Additional services would be maintained where externally funded support is available and a further 200 families will be supported through the Troubled Family Programme.

As well as targeted support, the strategy could also provide open access drop-in facilities, the details of which are currently being discussed with partners.

The draft strategy will be considered by Cllr Sylvia Tidy, lead member for children and families at a meeting on Monday, October 7. Details of the meeting and strategy are available at https://democracy.eastsussex.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=4020&Ver=4

Over twenty well know personalities from the world of media and sport will take part in a family fun charity football tournament on Sunday 1, September in Seaford.

The 7-a-side tournament, of 11 teams, that includes players such Albion legend Kerry Mayo, TalkSport presenter Michael Kurn, TV star Rob Lamarr and Britain’s Got Talent runner up Wayne Woodward as well as separate LookALikes team, to include Mrs. Brown, Pamela Anderson, David Beckham, James Corden, Robbie Williams, Prince Harry and Marilyn Monroe will be playing for the trophy at Seaford Town FC.

The tournament is the brainchild of local builders’ merchants, Chandlers Building Supplies – known for its charitable outreach programme. In association with Celeb FC and hosted at Seaford Town FC, the event will run from 12 noon until 6 pm. Food, entertainment, competitions, music and kids’ entertainment is all on offer.

All proceeds from the day are going to four charities; Rainy Day Trust, Teenage Cancer Trust, Variety – the Children’s Charity and local Seaford WOLO charity – helping families affected by cancer.

Sue McKinney of Chandlers Building Supplies, said: “This footie charity tournament promises to be a wonderful family day out. Come and meet the famous faces and enjoy the entertainment. The charities are all very worthy of your support. Everyone is welcome and we’re all looking forward to a great day.”

Tickets available from www.ticketsource.co.uk/chandlers and on sale at the gate on the day, subject to availability. Adults £3, children £2 (under 2s free) with all the proceeds going to charity.



After a turn out of over 1,000 people last year, Happyjacks Softplay are doing it again and inviting everyone to Eastbourne Sports Park on Tuesday 30th July, for their annual Picnic in the Park event to help raise vital funds for Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.

So bring your picnic and a rug, and let your little ones have a go at some or all of the activities that will be available on the day! Try something new or a family favourite….  and help to raise lots of money for this great charity!

It’s only £1 entry per family, with the first 200 families also receiving a FREE goody bag too!

Further money will be raised via your donations for taking part in various activities at the stands, so bring a few £s per child and all those bits of loose change to have a go on all sorts of fun stalls and games. Activities in the Main Arena will be FREE to take part in. Remember all proceeds will go to Chestnut Tree House.

We caught up with Jaki Tompkins from Happyjacks Softplay who is busy planning the event “I was astonished by the turnout last year and we’re hoping that this year will be even bigger! We have so much fun organising this event every year and it’s great to see everyone having fun attending it. The fact that we’ve raised over £5,000 for Chestnut Tree House is really amazing and shows a great community spirit in Eastbourne.”

Chestnut Tree House is the children’s hospice for East and West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and South East Hampshire and cares for 300 children and young adults from 0-19 years of age with progressive life-shortening conditions.

The Picnic in the Park events have raised £5,627 over the past five years, which is enough to cover the costs of two whole days of all of Chestnut Tree House’s community services.

Keep up to date with all of the plans for the 2019 event via the dedicated Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/1273326782818203/ 

From the beginning of the year, one of Eastbourne’s most popular swim schools became the responsibility of Claire Bryant. Previously Claire worked for different swim schools in the area, but 2019 was about taking the “plunge”, so we caught up with her to find out more…

Hi Claire, what made you want to take over Eastbourne Otters?

The great thing about Eastbourne Otters is that it has been running for five years and is already a well-established swim school local to Eastbourne. Having worked to help build the reputation as one of their coaches, involved at every level from the Ottertots through to the Squad swimmers, I was passionate about continuing with its success.


What do you see as the future direction?

I really enjoying teaching and coaching at Eastbourne Otters, so I want to ensure we keep all of the great things about the school, including the range of sessions for complete beginners to advanced competition level, for both children and adults.

Our classes are small and taught by qualified professional teachers, with an element of fun at the same time. We are happy to work with nervous children and adults and have lessons every day throughout Eastbourne.

I’m also looking at options for more pre-school swimming sessions and of course finalising our popular summer intensive classes, so watch this space!


What do you want Eastbourne Otters to be known for?

I have been a swimmer all of my life and bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm with me whenever I go onto a poolside. My goal is for all of our students not only learn this really important life skill, but to enjoy swimming as much as we all do!


Thanks Claire. If your interested in learning more about Eastbourne Otters, including details on a free trial lesson, visit http://eastbourneotters.org/ or call Clare on 07936 592840.

Babies and children from Puddle Ducks in West Kent & East Sussex had fun raising £2,137 for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading charity supporting children and young people with cancer and their families.

Every autumn, local swim school Puddle Ducks hold a week-long charity event where children raise money (and learn valuable water safety and survival skills) by attending swimming lessons dressed in their pyjamas.

This year Puddle Ducks’ chosen charity was CLIC Sargent which supported 315 children and young people from Kent and East Sussex in 2017 alone, from places such as Maidstone, Brighton and Battle.

In Kent & East Sussex, CLIC Sargent’s specialist care team of social workers and nurses provide emotional, practical and financial support out of the Royal Alexandra Children’s hospital in Brighton, as well as supporting young cancer patients at home or who are being treated at other specialist children’s hospitals in London, Surrey or Hampshire.

Clive Relf, who runs Puddle Ducks West Kent & East Sussex with his wife Lindsay, explained, “We were delighted to fundraise for CLIC Sargent. They do fantastic work and our Puddle Ducks families thought it was wonderful opportunity to help other children.

He continued, “Our Charity Pyjama Week is a great way of teaching our children important lifesaving skills in a fun and relaxed environment, whilst raising money for such a great cause. We had a tremendous time and we would like to give a big thank you to all our customers and their little Puddle Ducks who helped us to raise over £2,000 for this fantastic charity.”

Puddle Ducks provides award-winning swimming programmes for children 0-10 years of age. Taught by experts, they focus on teaching independent swimming in a nurturing environment with individually tailored activities to suit all abilities. Puddle Ducks swimming classes take place at 18 pools across West Kent and East Sussex.

For more information on the classes available at Puddle Ducks please call 01892 617246 or visit www.puddleducks.com/westkentandeastsussex

Pictured (L-R): Clive Relf (Puddle Ducks West Kent & East Sussex – owner), Janina Westwell (Puddle Ducks West Kent & East Sussex – Senior Teacher), Louisa Langford (Puddle Ducks West Kent & East Sussex – Marketing Co-ordinator), Charlotte Burgess (Puddle Ducks West Kent & East Sussex – Teacher) and Alex Drury (CLIC Sargent – Fundraising Engagement Manager)

If you  are looking to see Father Christmas before he sets off on his Christmas Eve adventure, check out our special list of locations below….

If you would like to submit a new location, please email us!



Santa at Knockhatch
8 – 23 December (selected dates)
Come and visit Santa in his special grotto at Knockhatch, Hailsham Bypass, Hailsham, BN27 3GD, 01323 442051

Santa’s Grotto at Drusillas Park
17 November – 23 December (selected dates)
Experience the winter magic first hand at Drusillas Park this year! Alfriston, East Sussex, BN26 5QS, 01323 874100

Santa’s Sweet Factory
24 November – 23 December (selected dates)
Visit Santa in his sweet factory and discover an enchanting land where imagination comes to life,
Paradise Park, Newhaven, BN9 0DH, 01273 512123

Santa Specials at Spa Valley Railway
Weekends from 1 – 24 December
Meet Santa and receive a gift, facepainting and spot the snowman competition, West Station, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5QY, 01892 537715

Santa Specials at the Bluebell Railway
Weekends from 1 – 24 December
A Christmas visit to the Bluebell Railway is a magical experience, Sheffield Park Station, Uckfield, TN22 3QL, 01825 720801

Santa’s Grotto at Monkey Bizness
From 24 November (selected dates)
Unit 27 Cliffe Industrial Estate, Lewes, BN8 6JL, 01273 311566

Santa’s Grotto at the Enterprise Shopping Centre
1 – 24 December (selected dates)
Station Parade, Eastbourne, BN21 1BD

Magical Millbrook Grotto
24 November – 24 December (selected dates)
Visit Santa in the Magical Millbrook Grotto, Tubwell Lane, Jarvis Brook, TN6 3RJ. Outdoor Event.

Santa’s log cabin at Priory Meadow Shopping Centre
22 November – 24 December
Come and meet Santa in his log cabin, which will be situated in Queens Square, Hastings, TN34 1PJ 

Breakfast with Santa
15 & 22 December, 9am
Full English Breakfast, unlimited hot drinks and juices, a visit to Santa’s Grotto and a present for all children, The Holly Blue, Hailsham Road, BN24 5BU, 01323 763212

Breakfast with Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves
1 – 24 December (selected dates)
Enterprise Shopping Centre, Station Parade, Eastbourne, BN21 1BD

Breakfast with Santa’s Elves
Thursday 20 December, 9.30am
Enjoy a pancake breakfast, plus use of soft play or watch a Christmas film. Treasure Island, Royal Parade,  Eastbourne, BN22 7AE, 01323 411077

Lunch with Santa
3 – 24 December (Mondays & Fridays), 10am- 12noon
Christmas themed buffett, face painting and a gift from the man himself! Monkey Bizness, Unit 27 Cliffe Industrial Estate, Lewes, BN8 6JL, 01273 311566

Teatime with Santa
23 December, 5pm
Come enjoy a visit from Santa before he sets off! The Holly Blue, Hailsham Road, BN24 5BU,
01323 763212

Early booking is advised as Santa is proving to be popular at all venues. Please contact the venue directly for prices and availability, before you travel.

Remember to visit our events pages for further updates on what is happening across our region

Remember if you would like to submit a new location, please email us!

List last updated 07.11.18.

Last week we were very lucky to be invited along to preview Wind in the Willows at the Brighton Open Air Theatre, before its launch at Lewes Castle this week. And what a fantastic evening we had! We were blessed with the most gorgeous weather and as we arrived the atmosphere was buzzing with anticipation. The scene was set with signs around the Riverbank, giving us an idea of what was in store.

As the story moved on and Mr. Toad popped out the mood began to lighten even more – his costume was simply brilliant as was the make up, and the same for Mole, Ratty, Badger and the weasels too. The acoustics were fantastic; we could hear all the words loud and clear and couldn’t help swaying along to the songs. There was a witty use of props throughout the performance really helping to put us in the moment with the cast. We highly recommend a trip to see the show for a memorable family night out.

A professional, musical play by JW productions: “As a company we are thrilled to be bringing this much loved classic to the beautiful setting of Lewes Castle… we look forward to seeing you in July!” – James Weisz, Managing Director.

Suitable for Ages 3 upwards.

Bring a Picnic
Come and lay your blankets and picnic food out in the Gun Garden. All outdoor theatre performances start at 7pm and gates are open from 6pm for picnics. There will be a pop up café serving hot & cold drinks and snacks.
To purchase tickets:
Adults £12, Concession £10 (under 13s, student or senior)
Family ticket £40 (2 adults & 2 U13s)
To buy your tickets online click here:
You can also purchase your tickets from the Lewes Castle ticket office at reception.

Towner Art Gallery is teaming up with Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival to take their Annual Schools Exhibition on the road. The gallery’s much loved exhibition is one of the UK’s largest displays of children’s artwork and this year more than 1,500 children from 32 schools in Eastbourne and the surrounding areas have taken part in free workshops with carnival artists Same Sky.

Speaking about Towner’s participation in the carnival, its president Stephen Lloyd said: “I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Towner as partners in this year’s Sunshine Carnival. Their passion for community work matches both what our Carnival stands for and also mirrors this year’s carnival theme: Our Community – Our World. The support they will bring in encouraging and enabling local schools to take part is also a real plus. Now into our sixth year, having the Towner Art Gallery on board as a partner illustrates just how popular and successful the event has become and demonstrates its significance in the town’s events calendar.”

Children at Polegate Primary School with their artwork for Eastbourne Carnival

Children at Polegate Primary School with their artwork for Eastbourne Carnival

Drawing ideas from Eric Ravilious, a key artist within the Towner collection, the project has looked at friendship including the role of tea parties and ceremonies inspired by Six Cups: Designs for Wedgewood (1937). This links into both this year’s carnival theme and the gallery’s upcoming exhibition Ravilious & Co: The Pattern of Friendship which opens on the day of the carnival.

The artwork made by the children will be displayed in Towner’s section of the carnival procession, which takes place on Saturday 27th May at the earlier start time of 2pm and will follow the established route down Eastbourne’s seafront from Western Lawns to Princes Park.

Towner’s Head of Learning Marina Castledine said:  “It has been a delight to work with so many schools. The art created is a credit to all the children, teachers and artists. We can’t wait to take to the streets!”

More information on the Eastbourne Sunshine Carnival and details of how to join in can be found at www.eastbournecarnival.co.uk