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Lewes District Group AGM and Firle Talk, Tour and Tea

12th September 2019

Lewes District members gathered in the beautiful East Sussex village of Firle, a village little changed and under the guardianship of the Firle Estate, for their AGM on 6th September. Huge thanks were expressed by all for the hard work and dedication of the committee members, particularly those standing down after many years in post.

Jim Greenwood was thanked for over 30 years of service as was Edmund Critchley who stands down as District Chair this year.

Mary Greenwood was presented with a beautiful shrub rose and thanked for holding the fort for so long as Secretary. Mary will continue to support the Committee alongside Martin Heath, the newly elected Secretary. Philip Pople will take hold of the reins from Edmund as the new Chair. John Kay was thanked for his continued support on planning and huge appreciation shown for his depth of knowledge and expertise. John presented his planning up-date to the meeting.

There followed a fascinating talk by Alastair Deighton, the Estate Manager at Firle. Alistair spoke of the complexity of maintaining the estate and the many projects undertaken to keep it viable and to support the village and its community. Such projects included hosting weddings, film shoots and country fairs and, most striking the World Sleddog Association Dryland World Championship on the 16th & 17th November 2019!

Many innovative projects are in the pipeline including working towards Firle becoming a carbon neutral village, the building of 14 affordable homes via a community land trust, whilst continuing to up-grade and provide homes at well below the market rent. The estate supports the local village school which is sadly threatened with closure and local businesses such as the village shop Firle Stores, The Ram and the Burning Sky Brewery.

Alistair then lead members through the village and up to stunning Firle Place ending with a wonderful afternoon tea served in the tearoom.

Thank you to our members who generously donated over £100 on the day for the village school. The school is supported by the Estate and the Lewes Group Committee decided to do this to thank them for their hospitality and help in arranging the visit.