A View from the Chair

News from our Chair and Vision Facilitator Rodney Matthews 

A View from the Chair - 20th January 2021

I am very fortunate.   I make no complaint whatever of the literal view from my chair during lockdown.   When those who have never visited me ask, “How close to the sea are you?” I reply “Very close”.  Sitting on my settee is like being on the bridge of a cruise ship.

I take hundreds of photos, each with a subtle difference, from sunrise to moonlight and with a panoramic sweep through almost 360 degrees taking in these recently snowcapped Lomond Hills and the Bridges, round to the Pentlands, the Castle, Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s Seat and - of course - Newhaven itself.

My current limited exercise is often along the seashore (having to remind my sister in Kent that it is not a river!) to the Harbour and across into Victoria Park and around but also even closer to home with what was once wasteland that has been converted by the swans into a new bird sanctuary:  a small reminder of the potential to turn past into future.

On my walks I look with constrained impatience on the inevitable delays in the building nearby of the new Victoria Primary School, with its knock-on effect on the timing of our plans to adapt the current site into the Heart of Newhaven.   But I am very glad to report that progress on this is continuing steadily.   Our plans for “meanwhile use” when we first get occupation, are also developing, so we will hit the ground running.  But we are already engaging fully with the community itself in ways that are illustrated elsewhere on this website.   Those on our mailing list who receive regular Mailchimp updates will have been directed for example, to the engaging audio clip of our lockdown, socially distaced choir with a haunting version of Auld Lang Syne https://heartofnewhaven.co.uk/Newhaven-Sings.php 

There are now many activities in progress as volunteers with a range of ideas sign up to demonstrate ways in which we can support each other and especially help those who are most vulnerable, particularly in the conditions in which we are all having to live. Of course this all helps give meaning to the idea of Community.  Involvement is the key and so I encourage you to pass the word around your friends.

As an older person now into my eighth year of living alone in Newhaven, I have lost count of the number of people who have become my friends here.  

And I tell my more distant and necessarily separated family and friends to whom I recently sent seasonal greetings that I would not want to live anywhere else.

And this time next month there should be even better news to share.

Rodney Matthews

Chair  and Vision  Facilitator

20th December 2020

Originally I started to write to you with a regular Mailchimp update every twenty days or so. Now we have a regular monthly newsletter dealing strictly with our news, so I am going to continue to connect with you as Vision Facilitator around the 20th of each month, to keep that 20/20 vision idea going of both the distant view and those things that are in close-up focus.  

This time last year we had just had an extremely successful stall at Victoria Primary School Christmas Fair.  Lots of you joined us as supporters at that stage as you got to hear about the exciting proposals of the Heart of Newhaven Community. Since then even more have signed up, some as a result of our postcard delivery some because of other community activities as more and more ideas take wing. 

And very recently, as the latest Newsletter indicated a few days ago, we now have many volunteers enthusiastically following up the latest ideas. Whatever the challenges this Christmas time we have lots of activities on offer at the end of this unique year.

I’m sure you’ve finished sending out Christmas cards but I wanted to share this one with a delightful design by talented Uma Scott-Behm of Primary 5, one of our Young Hearts, with you.  My guess is that we will see more of this design in the coming year as our plans continue and progress.  Who knows what the position will be at Christmas 2021.

First Inspiration:   However, before moving on to next year I would like to go back to the very beginning in 2018 and add my own personal tribute to Joan Davidson whose death at a tragically early age has been announced.   Joan inspired me!   It was Joan who shared with me the exciting ideas produced at the first public meeting.  Then, at the first creative meeting of the Interim Steering Committee in December 2018 I looked to Joan to produce some iconic graphics of Victoria Primary School as we identified this as the Heart of Newhaven. I endorse all that has been written in tribute to Joan.  May it inspire others.

Joan Davidson

I wish you all a very Happy Christmas whatever your circumstances and we are full of confidence that this time next year will witness the Heart of Newhaven Community at its best.

                                                                                                                        Rodney Matthews

Chair and Vision Facilitator

It looks promising but when will it be ready? 

Anyone’s guess. 

The children of Victoria Primary School should have moved in last August. 

Like us, they are still waiting.    

Except that they are not just waiting.  

Covid 19 has not stopped them being what they are and doing what they do, getting on with school where they are now.   

In my last Update I emphasised what we are doing NOW, promising to share details as we get on with being what we are and doing what we do.  We are organising lots of exciting activities to help meet the challenge of living with the effects of the pandemic no one envisaged would have such a profound effect on everyone.  

Our ❤️ is beating steadily and we want to make sure you benefit from the energy pumping. 

We are working with organisations we call our PARTNERS and local businesses and enterprises we call STAKEHOLDERS all sharing our vision of the Heart of Newhaven Community we launched nearly two years ago.  

Of course we all want to move into the place that has become our icon; but everyone can see the reason for the delay. ❤️

The Scottish Land Fund to which we have applied for a major grant to help us, is to consider in more detail our Stage Two Application next year when we are closer to removal date.  Because they exist to make awards for what we have set out to do they are continuing to fund our preparation to make an even stronger case by allowing us to include all the things we are developing now to build on the reason the City of Edinburgh Council has approved our plans and also continues to help us ‘for the benefit of the Community’.

All of which means we have a golden opportunity to demonstrate what we already are by doing what we can do now.       

No need to wait.             

Here’s an example.                      

Picture this. ❤️

Hallowe’en.  My doorbell rings.  Trick or treat?  I open it to find on my doormat Frank Manclark’s Early Morning Newhaven and a retreating pumpkin costumed Young Heart (and her dog dressed to match!)  

More treat than trick.  It turned out that at Leith Market that morning P7 had been selling things they had made to raise money for a camping trip.  On another stall she spotted this and bought it for me knowing my vision because “I thought you would like it!”  But the story isn’t over. I want to get it framed for my study.   Who would like to do that for me at the going rate?  You or perhaps someone you know?     Tell me.   

In fact whatever it costs I will pledge the same amount again to help Heart of Newhaven Community funds because it’s a very good cause.

Do you see what it’s all about?   

Culture & Heritage     

Learning & Enterprise   

and definitely  

Well-being in the Community.     

And it’s intergenerational activity.   All coming from thought and generosity.

So do join us in 

Newhaven Neighbours 

For this campaign we have already teamed up with like-minded organisations who care about the heart of our community, young and old,  and by working together we can help others, increase well-being in the community, especially in the run-up to what seems as if it might be a very different Christmas. 

Help us keep the heart of the community beating stronger despite all the blips. 

Help us make this a better Christmas for everyone. 

Go to our volunteer page on the website and sign up to become a Newhaven Neighbour. 

You can read all about it here.

 Rodney Matthews

Vision Facilitator