🏊‍♀️Sea swimming, liveable neighbourhoods, the sad death of the oldest gay in the village and more🏳️‍🌈

Plus autism diagnosis waiting times, updates on Ukraine appeals, and an exhibition on Tatty Devine at the Hove museum.

🏊‍♀️Sea swimming, liveable neighbourhoods, the sad death of the oldest gay in the village and more🏳️‍🌈
Source: The Brighton Seagull

Good morning everyone, and welcome to our Monday update. We're very excited that the clocks go forward this Sunday, especially after the lovely sunny weather we've had in the last few days! We don't know about you, but an hour less sleep in exchange for longer, sunnier days is a trade we're willing to make. This week we're talking sea swimming, liveable neighbourhoods and the sad death of the oldest gay in the village.

Please share this with anyone you think would be interested, and if you think you've got a story to tell about our city, consider signing up to contribute here.‌‌‌


🗞News This Week🗞

'Oldest gay in the village' dies, nearly 1,000 people in Brighton and Hove are waiting for an autism assessment, and 'Liveable Neighbourhood' scheme on the cards for Hanover and Tarner

'Oldest gay in the village' dies, aged 98

The 'oldest gay in the village' at Brighton Pride 2019
Source: The Brighton Seagull

George Montague, who many people will know as a ‌popular participant in the annual Brighton Pride parade, has died.

George died at home on Friday 18th March, with his husband, Somchai Phukklai.

He released a statement on Twitter the day he died, saying:

Dear friends and supporters, George is wishing to say goodbye.

He thanks everyone who has been supporting his campaigns, [and hopes] that he might have helped a little for us to live in a better world.

Everyone please continue your good works for good causes. I shall rest now, goodbye. George, 98.

He spent 43 years fighting the government on a gross indecency conviction in 1974.

The government pardoned thousands of people convicted under historic anti-gay laws in 2016, but Montague continued to press for a full apology, which he received in 2017.

George met his partner in 1997, they entered into a civil partnership in 2006 and were married at Brighton Town Hall in 2015.

Almost 1,000 patients waiting for autism diagnosis across the city

Nearly 1,000 patients in Brighton and Hove are waiting to be diagnosed with autism, according to figures from NHS Digital.

Around 970 adults and children who were referred to autism services under NHS Brighton and Hove CCG were waiting for an assessment in December 2021, up from 710 the year before. This comprises 1% of total national referrals for autism diagnosis.

This compares to 88,000 people across the country, up from 64,000—a 38% increase.

According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the earlier and faster an autism diagnosis happens, the better. It says first appointments should take place no later than 13 weeks after referral.

Those guidelines have not been followed in Brighton and Hove, with 340 people being seen within 13 weeks in 2021, and 350 in 2020. Figures are not provided by NHS Digital on the number of people waiting longer.

Potential low traffic neighbourhood in Hanover and Tarner

Changes are afoot in Hanover and Tarner, as potential road closures, one way streets and pocket parks are being discussed for the neighbourhood.

The planned changes would make the area Brighton's first low traffic neighbourhood, or 'Liveable Neighbourhood', in efforts to reduce traffic and 'rat running'.

Two schemes have been proposed, with differences being limited to where the one and two way streets and road closures are.

The council hopes this will make Hanover and Tarner a 'safer, more liveable space', and that it will be 'the first of many Liveable Neighbourhood schemes' in the city.

An online consultation and two community engagement workshops are taking place this week, at:

  • White Room, Phoenix Art Space – Tuesday 22 March, 3pm – 7pm
  • The Barnard Community Centre – Thursday 24 March, 2pm – 6pm

🖋 NIBS 🖋

  • Jim Deans' Ukraine aid mission has been described as a 'massive success'. Jim said:
In the last week, four overloaded vans have took support to the most desperate of people, but they need more.

We are splitting the loads between refugees on the Hungary border into Ukraine, to the thousands in Mukachevo who have chosen to stay in Ukraine having fled Kyiv and Mariupol, and finally our support team in Mukachevo are ferrying into the war zone and into hands of troops, emergency support teams and people trapped.

Make no mistake: what we take goes there and anything you give will make a difference, we are not a big charity but we have the biggest bravest hearts. Without your support this just cannot happen. We are all invited to the biggest party on earth, its in Mukachevo and you are invited by the people there, The date " The day we beat the Russians".

To find out more information on how to support Jim and his work, visit Sussex Homeless Support CIO.

  • Paul Clark from Clark's Meat and Poultry has launched a fundraiser to restore a poppy mural. The mural, which we wrote about here, is on the birth place of veteran Second Lt Ernest Frederick Beal BC, at 148 Lewes Road. The white paint over the mural has been removed, but there is still some damage. So far Clark has raised £85, with hopes of raising at least £200 to cover restoring the mural, and any extra going to The Poppy Appeal. To donate, click here.
  • We promised to update with ways to help Ukraine, and we've found another: The Grand Hotel on Kings Road is asking people to donate to Ukrainian refugees at the Polish border. They're asking people to donate items from Sunday 27th March to Sunday 7th April. The full list is available here.
  • Charlie Southall, who bought the Montreal Arms in Albion Hill, has been suggesting he could use it to house Ukrainian refugees, but the local community are suspicious this is a ploy to fast-track planning approval. The full story of the meeting is incredibly funny, and worth a read here, our favourite moment being:
A neighbour of the pub asked: “If you have got a million pounds in the bank, why don’t you fund the refurb yourself?”

Mr Southall replied: “I’m not sure why there’s a suspicion that I want to deceive the community and line my pocket . . . everything I own in the world, I have given half to this.

“Can anyone else in this room tell me that they have given half of their wealth to charity?”

Another resident replied: “You haven’t given it. You’ve bought a pub.”

This edition of The Seagull is sponsored by Cybersyn, a friendly digital analytics consultancy based right here in Brighton.


💥The Big One💥

Sea swimmer raises nearly £5,000 for charity

A picture of Ruth Rayner in a swimming costume by the sea
Source: Ellie Barnard/Ruth Rayner Charity Swim

What happened? An avid sea swimmer from Hove has raised nearly £5,000 from two years of swimming in open water in 'skins'—a term for just wearing a swimming costume, not thermal swimwear.

Sounds cold! Every day? Ruth Rayner, aged 50, started sea swimming in 2017, and on Monday 16th March 2020, started swimming in open water every day.

She said:

I didn’t set out to do it for any particular length of time but it became a part of my daily routine, my way of coping through unsettling times.

February 2021 was particularly challenging as I lost my grandma and aunt within the space of two days. This meant I relocated to Yorkshire to be with my mum and found myself swimming in a local reservoir, in sub five degree water, every day for a month.

I swam through snow blizzards, gale force winds and had to break the ice to get in the water on one particular day. It was brutal but it helped numb the pain of overwhelming grief.

How much did she raise in the first year? By Monday 15th March 2021, Ruth had swam every single day for a year, raising £2,865 for charity—£1,900 for Alzheimer's Society and £965 for the RNLI.

Ruth said:

Of course, I was looking forward to the challenge ending as I was pretty tired and still in the early stages of grief. I needed time to adjust, process, rest... It soon became apparent though, that the only way I could adjust and process my emotions, was in the ocean. I was calm and things were clearer in there, so I carried on swimming. Every day.

Now, although I'd said it was a one year challenge, many knew regardless of what I said (and truly believed), there was a high probability, it would turn into a two year challenge. And they were right.

Year Two has seen more reservoir swimming (although mostly in the summer this time), quite a few night swims due to working away and not getting back until way after last light, plus some (non-Covid-19) health issues. Having the unconditional support of my mum and a core group of swim buddies has, without doubt, helped me get through this second year!

How many swims has Ruth completed? She has now swum in open water for 730 days in a row, and completed 800 swims in those days.

How much has she raised in total? Across the 730 days, Ruth raised a total of £4,758, split between Alzheimer's Society and the RNLI.

She also, after her first 300 swims in 2020, donated £300 between Seabirds Ltd, Leave No Trace Brighton, RNLI, Firefighters and Sycamore Park Care Home (where her Grandma was a resident).

Ruth said:

Grandma had Alzheimer’s and, although she died of Covid-19 (aged 95), this disease was not going to go away. She was a strong, capable lady and I am proud to say we have always had an incredibly close bond. I have too many memories to mention but many involved swimming, from her taking me for my weekly swimming lesson when I was small, to me teaching her to swim when I was a teenager. Treasured times.

She was excited and proud that I was nearing the end of the 365 days of sea swimming (when she died) and I know she would have been overwhelmed by the support everyone showed. It's now incredibly important for me to complete this extended challenge, in her memory.

How can I donate? To help Ruth reach her £1,000 goal for Alzheimer's Society (she's very close at £930), click here, and to help boost her RNLI goal, click here. The JustGiving pages will stay open until the end of April.

👉Finger On The Pulse👈

Tatty Devine, Wai Kika Moo Kau, and the Bravo Awards

🎵Gigs: Lucy May Walker, mischievous, darkly funny folk-pop; Friday 25th March at The Brunswick, tickets here.

🎥Cinema: Oxide Ghosts, for all the dads and dad-proximate people who like Chris Morris, lots of rare behind-the-scenes Brass Eye material; Saturday 26th March at The Duke of York's, tickets here.

🏛Exhibitions: Misshapes: The Making of Tatty Devine, lots of odd-looking and interesting jewellery, like the sound of the piano belts; until 4 September 2022, free admission.

🎭Theatre: Merlin In The Wild Wood, "walking the boundaries between civilisation and nature, human and animal, madness and belonging" ooh; Sunday 27th March at St Augustine's Centre tickets here.

Swoop in

If you have a story for Seagull, please get in touch with our editor at [email protected]. And if you want to contribute:‌‌

☕️ Where to eat? 🥪

Coffee: Black Mocha on Gloucester Road has some interesting cakes baked in-house and some lovely lunch options to but for us where they really shine is their drinks, particularly their eponymous speciality, the Black Mocha. Made with 70% chocolate, it's an intense experience.

Brunch: Wai Kika Moo Kau on Kensington Gardens, small veggie/vegan eatery with a good lunch menu and plenty of cakes too. Their soup of the day is almost invariably delivious and their strawberry hot chocolate tastes like one of the strawberry sweets you get in tins of Quality Street; if that doesn't sell you I don't know what will.

Dinner: Pompoko on Church Street, completing this week's trio of North Laine establishments. A favourite haunt of penny-pinching Japanophile students, if you want very fast, very affordable Japanese food there is nowhere better. ‌

Bonus: The BRAVO awards, for Brighton's best restaurants across a range of categories, are nearly done with their voting, which is free, open to everyone and closes on Thursday, so get voting here!

🔜 Next Time 🔜

That's all for this week—don't forget to fill in our contributors form if you'd like to get involved, forward to friends who might be interested and if you've been forwarded this and enjoyed it (or are reading on the website), please subscribe.‌