I do not know where the past year has gone but it has seemed to disappear in front of my very eyes. We are now at the start of 2024 which will be my 67th year. A big thrill for me in 2023 was gaining my bus pass and becoming officially a pensioner. Age doesn’t stop me from wanting to make Ryde and the Isle of Wight a better place and campaign for improvements and the rights of local citizens. I am excited and have great hope for 2024. 2024 will see openings and launches of new projects and campaigns that will see growth of opportunities in the Town.
Community Spirit and Hope – Supporting People through Cost-of-Living Crisis
For me the most important thing is bringing people together and celebrating community spirit. Throughout 2023, every other Thursday, the Appley and Elmfield community have held a warm space event at St. John’s Church Hall the 2nd and 4th Thursday (12-3pm) of each month. They will continue through 2024.
Baby Boomers and Future Generations of Islanders – A New Youth and Community Centre in 2024!
I am very aware being born in 1957 with the baby boomer title (post Second World War child) that my generation of over 65 year olds now makes up around 30% of the population whilst young people aged under 18 mak- up only 18%. This is in my view the wrong balance and I believe we need to strongly invest in our Island children and young people. 2024 will see the completion of the renovation of St. Thomas’s Church in the Town Centre and the opening of Ryde’s new Youth and Community Centre. This will mean Ryde’s own youth service, Network Ryde, will expand and develop and support young people to grow and gain opportunity. In December 2023, there was a celebration of young people obtaining Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the stories of their achievements were amazing. Ryde Town Council is the only Parish and Town Council on the Island to have invested solidly into its future generation and I am very proud of this fact. This pioneering work has resulted in IW Community Action with IW Council on gaining over £3M to invest in a similar youth centre of excellence in Sandown at the old Town Hall. Network Ryde | Youth Cafe
Appley Tower Refurbishment and Opening in 2024!
It was back in 2016, I first found out that IW Council who owns the historic Tower, had closed it and planned to sell it off. I started a campaign to save it and get a plan in place for it to be refurbished and reopened for the benefit of the community. In November 2023, the scaffolding has gone up and the refurbishment and restoration of the Tower is in full swing. The opening of the Tower as an Art Gallery and viewing point with visitors able to see across the Solent should be in early summer. Natural Enterprise, the charity leading the renovation, has established an Appley Tower Heritage Project and has gathered all the information about the history of the Tower and surrounding area and this will be on display in the future. Appley Tower Players have written a new play, “Wish you were here!” and have given performances in Ryde Library and local primary schools. Natural Enterprise | Appley Tower Heritage Project
Campaigning against Sewage Overflows released into Solent and Flooding
At the end of 2023 saw a dramatic rise in monthly rainfall in Ryde and across the whole Island. In 2018, I put forward a successful motion to IW Council to declare a Climate Emergency, and at the end of 2023, sadly we experienced the realities of climate change. High tides and rainfall have dramatically changed with rainfall being 110 mm in August, 64 mm in September, 250 mm in October, and 200 mm in November. This accounts for a record increase of rainfall by 100% from previous years. This torrential rain near coastal settlements such as Ryde and Ventnor caused serious flooding and landslides which saw residents losing their homes and livelihoods. From March 2022 to March 2023 there were 16787 hours when sewage was discharged by Southern Water into our waters. In October and November 2023 there was a single duration release of sewage lasting 681 hours at Sandown. The environmental combination of surface rainfall and sewage releases is getting so regular and significant that you cannot describe this other than an environmental crisis and emergency.
I have launched a campaign and petition to get IW Council and the Government to rethink the future of the Island in relation to this massive environmental change. Go on-line and sign up to the petition if you agree with me – https://www.change.uk.org/save-isle-of-wight-from-environmental-realities-of-climate-change
Although climate change is causing havoc, I do have hope that if we as a community speak out, campaign with all generations joining together in 2024 we will achieve things and with the symbolic opening of Appley Tower we will achieve change to stop pollution and other environmental consequences of climate change for future generations.
9th Annual Pancake Day Event – Tuesday 13th January 2024 (Venue to be decided)
Every year since 2016, I have held a pancake day event to raise awareness about food poverty in Ryde and raise funds for local food projects. In 2023, I raised £2000 and gave £500 each to Oakfield Food Pantry, Oakvale Foodshare, Ryde Aspire Food Project and Ryde (IW) Food Bank (Grace’s Church. This year I will be raising the issue of poor nutrition. I established the event with the late Erica Manley and the event acts as a celebration of her life helping others.
There is a significant Ukrainian community on the Island and they play an important part in our local community in so many ways. I am linking up with others in the Liberal Democratic Party on ways to effectively support the local Ukrainian community especially as sadly the war continues in Ukraine.