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THIS WEEK Beach Tavern Development: Time to find a sensible solution

COMMUNITY New arts and crafts group launches for Pevensey Bay in January 2019

BUSINESS Action in Rural Sussex back in Pevensey Bay

IMAGE CREDIT: Melita Cullis, Royal Televised Wedding, Aqua Bar, Pevensey Bay


Talking to Meilta Cullis, one of the founders of Movies in the Bay, the group at the Baptist church in Pevensey Bay that have successfully put on blockbuster movie shows for the community, for over two years, you get the distinct sense of the word calling.

On the last Friday of the month, projected on the inside wall of the Baptist church, the movies have proved to be of big interest to the local community.

There is a double programme of top rated films, for the kids at 4:00pm, then for us big ones in the evening, at 7:00pm. A beautifully billed twin track community event, complete with popcorn. We are reliably informed that you do not even have to believe in God, just the holy trinity of Frank Capra, Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg.

The shows have grown to become part of the community embedded in the psyche of the Bay.

We caught up with Melita and her husband David, as they waited for their lunch to be served  at the Bay Side Diner in Pevensey Bay. “What was planned next?”

First up though, how did Prince Harry and Meghan and the televised Royal Marriage get to be planned as an event showing at the Aqua Bar in the Bay?

The story of the planned event has been doing the round provoking interest from a number of residents.

Melita dipped in her bag and out came this lovely homegrown A5 invitation printed on blue paper.

On the paper invitation are the words “Your invitation to the televised Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle on 19 May 2018 at the Aqua Bar.

Open the invitation and what you get, is the invitation with an RSVP, and space to write your own name into the local history books.

The inscription says (space for name) will be attending the televised Service of the The Wedding of `Prince Harry to Meghan Markle to be held at the Aqua Bar, Peveny Bay on 19th May from 11am followed by a buffet lunch with wedding cake, £6:00 per person.

Instruction on the facing page says, dress code is what you want to wear to a Royal Wedding, hat, fascinators, bow ties, best suits, beautiful frocks and with a touch of sparkly bling. Or just come in your comfy clothes, RSVP Melita Cullis 01323 461923 melietacullis@btinternet.com, or call in the church when open.

There is something about the way than Melita and husband David do things that says essence of quirky Pevensey Bay, industry and homegrown initiative.

How many people are there in the Bay that could set up and run an initiate like Movies in the Bay and make the showings popular?

The Royal Televised Wedding invitation is another example of the same approach with the promotion of an event, homegrown and engaging.

Melita understands how to promote a show and connect with a local audience, hard to do, but she does the job with love and craft.

We talked about the Royal Televised Wedding at the Aqua Bar in Pevensey Bay and she explained that something had to be charged for the event. The modest price of £6:00 seems right.

Margate might have Tracey Emin with her message of love to the rest of Europe at St.Pancras Station, in neon lights, but we have Melita Cullis.

Over lunch we talked with Melita and husband David about the latest Royal Wedding televised enterprise at the Aqua Bar, all carefully timed and themed as an event. We also wanted to know what was happening next with Movies in the Bay.

Out came a second leaflet in the same handcrafted style, this time is a lovely bright green flyer with all the details about what will be on offer over the next three months.

As well as Paddington 2 this month, we will see the delights again of Passport to Pimlico in June, the sparklingly funny 1949 Ealing Comedy, starring Stanley Holloway and Margaret Rutherford.

A small a small part of Pimlico is declared to be a legal part of the House of Burgundy, and therefore exempt from the post-war rationing or other bureaucratic restrictions active in Britain at the time.

The film resonates in Pevensey Bay with many South Londoners demobbed here over two and in some cases three generations. The pride with which the Bay declares an independent view on everything whenever asked, however quirky is always on show.

To come also is the film Wonder in July. The film stars Julia Roberts and follows a child with Treacher Collins syndrome trying to fit in.

Melita examined her biggest audience to date. The Theory of Everything, about the life Stephen Hawking, saw 49 people turn up to the Baptist church to see the film, she proclaimed with obvious pride.

The August offering on the last Friday of the month may see a movie linked to the pilot Pevensey Arts and Literature Festival, with a possible choice of the Mike Leigh film, Mr. Turner.

JMW Turner was here sketching on the beach in Pvensey Bay, as researchers working with the pilot festival have discovered.

What is infectious about Melita is the simplicity, colour coded style tinting of the flyers and certainty on show. with everything that she and husband David undertake,.

There is no real need to believe in God to see the fact that some kind of spirit moves what they do.

Melita brimmed with life and spark and infectious enthusiasm and warmth as we pored over her leaflets.

As their omlette and chips were delivered hot to their table, Melita looked at husband David and said ‘shall we say grace’ and we left them to their lunch.

What shall we say to Melita, shall we say star?

Something Melita did not know, until we pointed to the history of royal events in the locality, is that The Honeypot Tea Room in Pevensey Bay also played a unique role in the story of Kind Hearts, Coronets and Royal Special occasions.

The Elizabeth II Coronation in 1953 has been described as the day that changed television.

The filming made outside broadcast history. The broadcast attracted an estimated audience of 20 million, beginning to change a nation of radio listeners into television viewers.

The BBC gained permission to erect three extra temporary transmitters in time for the event. The transmitters were built into mobile vans and positioned at Brighton, Newcastle and Belfast.

The person responsible for aspects of the production was Seymour Joly de Lotbiniere CVO (21 October 1905 – 6 November 1984) known as “Lobby” . He was the BBC director of outside broadcasting from 1935 to 1940.

He had strong links with the community. He was schooled in Eastbourne. Some of his early pioneering work with film and outside broadcasts in the early 1930a have recently surfaced, showing some of his earliest work in Pevensey High Street and at Pevensey and Westham station.

A public broadcast of the Coronation in 1953 took place at the Honeypot Tea Rom in Pevensey Bay (now the Beach Tavern) where people presumably crammed into the space to witness the ceremony, looking at a small black and white television, with the signal transmitted from Brighton.

This may have been the only shared public space in the locality where the history making moment in broadcasting was witnessed.

When we explained the coincidental link with Royal televised broadcasts in Pevenseey Bay and what Melita plans for the Aqua Bar down the road, she paused and her face lit up with delight.

Like her choice of Passport to Pimlico to be shown again in Pevensey Bay as part of the Movies in the Bay sequence, Melita appears to have the magic touch when there are questions about what to put on in this quirky corner of Sussex by the Sea.

No doubt, she would argue that the Chief projectionist is the person that answers her prayers and helps choose what to show with her Movies in the Bay.

In relation to her decision to invite people to “The Royal Televised Wedding of Harry Prince Harry and Meghan”,  at the Aqua Bar, she is following in the footsteps of pioneers..

Lord Reith, the first Director General of the BBC, no doubt would have understood. He was the youngest of the seven children of the Reverend Dr George Reith, a Scottish Presbyterian minister. He held strict Presbyterian religious convictions all his adult life.

A table of people at the Bay Side Diner shown the invitations for the televised Royal Wedding at the Aqua Bar, later, were impressed at the styling and simplicity of the flyers, with one saying “this looks like Melita”.

Her unique take on Pevensey Bay, projected across the community, is a demonstration of what can be done to bring people together with shared social events.

Her events brim not just with life and hope but anchorage in this small coastal community.

Simon Montgomery
editor, Bay Life

Invitation to Televised Royal Wedding, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Saturday 19 May 2018
The Aqua Bar, Pevensey Bay from 11:00am
RSVP Melita Cullis 01323 461923 melietacullis@btinternet.com, or call in the church when open
from 11am followed by a buffet lunch with wedding cake, £6:00 per person

Movies in the Bay,
Last Friday of month, 29 June 2018
Passport to Pimlico, an Ealing comedy, 7:00pm
Pevensey Bay Baptist church