PCA: It’s In The Name

Here’s a blog post from our friend, neighbour and local activist, Marek Kohn for the Prestonville Community Association:

A while back we in the Prestonville Community Association got talking about the Greenway path that runs along the old railway line through New England Quarter. We lobbied for it to open when Network Rail was holding it up. But now many people don’t feel comfortable or safe on the neglected, graffiti-covered path it has become.

The problem, we thought, was that it doesn’t seem to belong to a community. And thanks to committee member Martin Poole, Vicar of St Luke’s, we’ve come up with a solution – urban farming! Or gardening, anyway. Friends First, a group which has run a farming project in West Sussex for homeless people, is up for doing something similar on the Greenway. If it works out, there’ll be people down there regularly, cultivating it and looking after it.

We’ve been working on it with our neighbours in the Ditchling Rise residents’ association, DRARA, and a bunch of other people who agree the Greenway needs nurturing. So far there have been two Sunday tidy-up sessions, open to all; the aim is to hold these once a month.

The reason I’m telling you this – and the reason I’m delighted it’s taking shape –  is that it shows what the PCA is all about. Making connections, getting together, working together, drawing people in, making the neighbourhood a friendlier, more inclusive and nicer place. In a word, community.

And that’s what we’re here for. The PCA helps with other stuff too – the summer picnic in Dyke Road Park, the Christmas Carols in Exeter Street, discussions about plans such as the Seven Dials reconstruction. But one way or another, it’s all about community.

Naturally, we’d like as many Prestonville people as possible to be in touch with what we’re doing, and to share your views about local life with us. To make that as easy as possible, joining the PCA just involves signing up to receive email updates about local news and PCA activities. Email info@prestonville.org.uk or visit http://prestonville.org.uk/, and let’s join the community up some more!

THGI Tea Club – Friday 9th January

Worried about energy prices, or how to keep warm this winter?
Then come along this Friday to our monthly THGI Tea Club starting at 2:30pm.
Can’t make the event but got a question you want to ask? Then contact Rebecca Jones of National Energy Action’s Warm Homes Campaign – telephone 01273 964229 or 07738 417448, or send an email to rebecca.jones@nea.org.uk.
For more details about the THGI Tea Club click here.


Frozen in time

Wowzer! What a night.
Thanks to everyone who came and sung their hearts out at the Frozen singalong and made it a truly magical night. You were GREAT!
Shrugs off cape, sings “Let it go, let it go…”

Xmas Windows Competition – The Winners


It was a shame that the less-than-festive drizzle drove us inside for carol-singing this year, but lovely to see everyone packed into the candle-lit Hall. Big thanks to St Luke’s and the PCA for making it such a jolly affair with marvellous musicians and mulled wine.
We announced the winners of our spectacular Christmas Windows Competition. Thanks to everyone who entered and perked up the neighbourhood with their fantastically cheerful windows. There were some inspired entries, which made judging very tricky.
Congratulations to (drum roll, please)…


General entrants category
1st place
The Cropp Family of Coventry Street (for the THIRD year running!)
“For their sheer skill in model making and additional historical information”
2nd place
Deirdre and Naomi of Hamilton Road
“The angels were big and beautiful and filled the whole space of the windows.”
3rd place
Ella Mae and Andrea of Coventry Street
“A beautiful colour-changing snow scene, full of detail.”


Under 10s category
1st place
Christopher of Lancaster Road
“Your window made everyone smile with three bold reindeers, full of character.”
2nd place
Thomas and Margot of Chatsworth Road
“Lovely humourous window, we especially liked that you included yourselves.”
3rd place
Isabella Evans of Stanford Road
“So much to see, we really liked the flying Santa.”

Everyone was presented with rosettes and chocolates (the Cropp family also won a cleaning kit from our generous sponsor, The Green Cleaner, to ensure that their windows always sparkle) and the winners will have their names engraved on the coveted trophies.
We’d like to say a BIG thank you to the following people:

  • Kate Kingham (general superstar) – for doing all the hard work behind the scenes.
  • Sarah Jones (local artist and judge) – for taking time out from Milton Open House to judge your lovely windows.
  • Catherine Cole, Martha Hunt and Gill Hasson (Hall heroes) – for helping to deliver entry forms.

MASSIVE high five to The Green Cleaner (fab, local cleaning agency) for meeting all the costs of the competition and for providing prizes.
Their support means that every penny participants gave goes to help the Hall. If you need a Spring clean in the New Year or regular cleaning help – keep them in mind.

If you have (or work for) a local business, sponsoring events at the Hall is a great way to show your support for the community. Not to mention that 800 shareholders and our social media audience of thousands get to hear about you. We’re a loyal lot who generally like to support those who support the Hall. Spread the love. Contact us for more details about sponsoring for upcoming events.

See you in the Hall soon.

Junior Bake Off Takes Off


We might not have had a marquee and Mel and Sue larking about, but we had all the other key ingredients for a Great Junior Bake Off at the Hall on Sunday; eleven finalists that you couldn’t help but take to your heart, two delightful judges and a bunch of showstopping cakes.

GBBO’s (and our very own lovely, local lass) Kate Henry gave a masterclass, showing our keen cooks how to pipe icing and decorate some fresh sponge cakes. The kids got creative and produced stunning cakes to be sliced and sold to the expectant crowd.

Kate and Green MP Caroline Lucas had the tricky task of judging. They did a brilliant job of giving detailed feedback on look, taste, detail and skill and let each nipper know where they’d excelled; all star bakers in their own right. Scoring highly in each area, Freddie Eatock, Year 4 pupil from Stanford Junior, scooped the coveted title of Exeter Street Hall Junior Bake Off winner and picked up his cookbook prize. Congratulations, Freddie, on your delicious blueberry and marshmallow creation!


In a fascinating Q&A session, Kate revealed what it was like to bake under the scrutiny of a camera crew and the watchful eyes of Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry. The kids kept firing questions and there were some funny and moving stories about her experience on Britain’s best-loved cookery programme.

MASSIVE thanks to Kate and Caroline for making the event so exciting and rewarding for the kids. BIG thanks too to our friends on the Stanford Junior PTFA for all their help with our joint first round cake sale competition and to Stanford Infant PTFA for inviting entries. These events don’t happen without the tireless commitment of our own volunteers, so we take our HATS OFF to Simon Hudson who organised the event and are extremely grateful to Iain Chambers (particularly for the cake…!), Polly Stebbens and Marianne Craig.

Check out the photos. We were blown away by the incredible, inventive and original array. Who knew sponge could take on so many different forms? Well done, kids.

And as Iain says, “The amazing standard of cakes presented by the 11 finalists at the Junior Bake Off in Exeter Street Hall would’ve had Mary Berry herself purring with delight. It was certainly a very difficult decision for the judges Kate Henry, from this year’s Great British Bake Off competition, and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas to pick a winner. Freddie’s incredible Marshmallow and Blueberry Cake triumphed, and then the task of eating all the cakes began! Kate also gave the finalists a lesson in cake decoration and answered their questions, giving a fascinating insight into what goes on behind the scenes at GBBO.”


Sports Panel Raffle Prize Winner

We love the excitement of a raffle. And it seems we’re not alone. Eight-year old Kaziah Snow Staib-Yaron desperately wanted to win the cricket bat signed by the Sussex County Cricket Team in our recent raffle. Winners were announced at our hugely enjoyable Sports Panel evening.

The odds were 500 to 1, but to her huge surprise, Kaziah had the winning ticket. Kaziah is a pupil at Stanford Junior and lives locally. Her dad Andrew plays for Firle Cricket Club and has passed on his love of the sport. What’s the attraction for Kaziah? “I just love hitting the ball!”
Kaziah is a big fan of Exeter Street Hall and has enjoyed lots of kids’ parties, circus skills classes and will always remember watching World Cup matches in the Hall.
Here’s to more raffles, happy prize winners and events in the Hall. Congratulations, Kaziah!

Film Friday

We’re trialling a regular Film Friday each month. We want you to have a cosy cinema on your doorstep for a monthly end-of-the-week treat. Our aim is to show the films you want to see. We’re starting out with a 4pm screening for the nippers and a late show at 8pm. But we can tweak this in response to demand.

Early Show
For November, we screened Despicable Me. Kids spilled into the Hall after school and got settled in for the big event. Captivated by Gru and his minions, they stayed seated until the interval when they were pretty keen on grabbing their hot dogs and squash. Hungry ones refuelled with popcorn and choc ices too. Parents kicked back with a well-deserved drink, having effortlessly taken care of after-school entertainment and supper. We like.

Late Show
We’re really sorry. We had to cancel the 8pm screening of Blue Jasmine due to poor ticket sales. We contacted everyone who booked tickets online. And spread the word at www.exeterstreethall.org and through Facebook and Twitter. To cover our licence (not to mention, create a good atmosphere!), we have to sell at least 20 tickets. If you fancy a film, don’t hesitate – book online and you’ll be inching us closer to guaranteeing we can show it.

Film Friday in December (Friday 19 December)
Early show: 4pm – Frozen (Sing Along). Gracious. You’re keen. We’ve sold out already. We’re looking into the logistics of doing a second screening. Watch this space.

Late show: 8pm – The Grand Budapest Hotel. A brilliantly bonkers caper. Book now with your friends so we can get a full house for a pre-Christmas treat. We’re ready for our close up, Mr de Mille.


Thanks to: Simon, Gus, Paul, Sean, Darryl, Dexter, Martha, Mike, Polly, David, Sally and Dave for all your hard work towards the launch.