Christine Foster – Award winning Rottingdean playwright

Rottingdean Local Spotlight

Chris FestivalAward winning Rottingdean playwright, Christine Foster, is presenting the world premiere of her new production ‘The Fever Trees’ at this year’s Kipling Festival.

Following her successful involvement in obtaining funding and support for the first Festival last year, Christine has also been working hard as fundraiser, organiser and secretary for this year’s celebration: ‘Kipling in India’.

Having lived and worked for most of her life in Canada and Mexico, she has enjoyed a long and acclaimed career as a professional director, producer, script editor, screenwriter and playwright.

Born in England, Christine emigrated with her parents from Kent to Ontario when she was 12 years old. After training at Canada’s Stratford Festival she became a member of Equity and worked as a professional actor for 8 years, until she started to achieve international success as a radio and TV scriptwriter. Her long list of TV credits include ‘The Littlest Hobo’ for which she was executive story editor. She has written numerous plays and musicals for the theatre, and co-founded ‘The Cliffhanger Company’, a registered charity in Canada, which specialised in the dramatisation of myths, legends and folktales for family and community audiences.

Two years ago, with her mother in a care home in Devon and her daughter, Gwen, at drama school in Exeter, Christine and her husband decided to return to England and settled in Rottingdean.

Passionate about bringing Kipling to the attention of as many people as possible, she and co-producer Nicky Lloyd Owen have co-ordinated a variety of exciting events to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth in Mumbai.

The international Kipling Society has been very supportive of the Kipling Festival’s achievements and has especially expressed an interest in seeing more theatrical productions on his life and work.

‘The Fever Trees’ provides a unique opportunity to find out about the early eventful life of Rudyard and his sister Trix. The show explores how their shared traumatic childhood affected them both, and how the mystery of India influenced Rudyard’s remarkable writing – ultimately contributing to his phenomenal success as a prolific ‘genius’ and his being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

‘The Cliffhanger Company’, acclaimed for its ‘vibrant and innovative’ productions, will be performing ‘The Fever Trees’ at Rottingdean Village Hall where Kipling himself set up a Boys’ Club and taught rifle shooting when he lived in Rottingdean.

Christine is enthusiastic about producing plays and events which, as well as being entertaining, also promote interest and understanding of different cultures and communities. She actively encourages involvement and interaction, and is offering a question and answer session with herself and the cast (Gwenneth Holmes and Cameron Bell) immediately after the Festival performances of ‘The Fever Trees’ to get feedback and opinions from the audience.

‘The Fever Trees’ performances:

July 1st, 4th, 5th at 7pm Village Hall, Rottingdean. Tickets: £5 each
July 8th at 6.30pm Batemans, Burwash: Dinner & play, tickets £40 each

The ‘Kipling in India’ Festival runs from June 25th to July 7th. It includes a variety of other events involving local volunteers and professionals coming together to organise, present and take part in a celebration of Rudyard Kipling’s life.

Further details of these events and booking arrangements can be found at:

Article written by Denise Whittington

Lee Turner – A Northern Lad Converted

Rottingdean Local Spotlight

This spotlight has been reproduced with the kind permission of Viva Brighton from their article on Rottingdean in their December issue

Lee and OliverI’m a northern lad, but moved to Hove with my partner Juliet in 2004, after we decided we’d like to swap our life in Leeds for a life by the sea. After our son Oliver arrived on the scene we decided to go somewhere less urban; Rottingdean fitted the bill, so we moved on in 2009. We love it, and have really integrated ourselves into the local community; for one thing I edit the village website. There’s a really tight-knit feel to the place: I know more people here than I ever did in Brighton and Hove, because once you meet someone, you see them again soon. I didn’t know that I’d like that feeling, because I was used to bigger cities, but I find I really do.

You can get whatever you need here, so there’s no reason to go outside the village too often, especially if you work here, which I do. There’s a butcher and a greengrocer and a couple of supermarkets and a good range of pubs and cafés. If you want to eat out, you can choose between Italian and French and Indian and Chinese and good old fish and chips. Of course we sometimes go to Asda at Brighton Marina, and do online shopping, but we support the local shops as much as possible, because if the High Street closed down there would be no tourists, and tourists are very important for the local economy. In a recent poll 80% of Rottingdean’s residents said they would like the Parish Council to commit to devote more time and resources to tourism.

There are plenty of reasons for tourists to come, with Rudyard Kipling’s house, the Kipling Gardens, the Grange Museum, the windmill and all those pubs and cafés. It’s rich in history, too: Rottingdean used to be a hotbed of smugglers and pirates owing to the fact that it is one of the few places on this stretch of coast where there is a break in the hills. Rottingdean is a rural village, with its own pond and green and church, but it also, of course, has a stretch of beach, and this is a great boon to the place. I swim in the sea a lot: it’s much less crowded than in Brighton or Hove.

If I had to name one problem Rottingdean had it would be that people drive through the High Street to get onto the A27. If just one lorry blocks a lane while unloading (and they often do), traffic jams can quickly build up. It’s hard to think of a way to solve this, though there have been calls for pedestrianisation of the street, or making it one-way.

We celebrate our dubious history every year, with Smugglers Night where people dress up as pirates and smugglers, and there are torchlit processions through the town, and fireworks on the beach. A lot of visitors come to watch proceedings: it’s quite a night.

Dance Star Solomon Berrio-Allen Looks For Support

Rottingdean Local Spotlight

Solomon flight jump.Solomon Berrio-Allen from Rottingdean, Brighton is 17 years old and has dedicated his life to dance from an early age. He has just been offered a place at P.A.R.T.S. Dance Conservatoire in Brussels, Belgium ( from Sept 2013 – 2016 after they had auditioned 1032 dancers in 23 countries over a four month period. The selection process included a gruelling 6 day final audition in Brussels (in the middle of AS exams!) with 180 dancers competing for 50 places. This only takes place every three years and Solomon has been offered this place one year early as their minimum age requirement is 18 years old. As Solomon will be studying outside the UK he is not entitled to apply for a UK student loan via Student Finance England which means we are looking for financial support to fund this opportunity for him. Solomon’s talent has been nurtured here in Brighton and London and after his training in Belgium he will return home and contribute significantly to dance in the UK. After trawling through the internet for hours, following links of possible funding sources suggested by people in the dance industry as well as send numerous emails and make phone calls to charities, sponsors and funding organisations I have found nothing that Solomon is eligible to apply for. I am therefore writing to ask you for help.

Solomon embarked on his journey in Dance at 10 years old when he joined a boys’ breakdance group with JP Omari of Streetfunk in Brighton. He loved it from the beginning and enjoyed working in a group, being creative, learning new moves and performing. Through this group he was given the opportunity to audition for the local satellite Centre for Advanced Training scheme via Laura Woods, the Dance Development Officer for Brighton and Hove Music and Arts. He spent one term on this scheme and was introduced to contemporary dance with Jason Keenan-Smith. Contemporary dance was completely different from breakdance and took a while to get used to and understand. On the scheme the dancers were taken to see a Richard Alston performance at The Dome as well as attend taster days at The Place and Laban dance conservatoires in London.

As a result of this scheme and at the end of year 8 when at Longhill High School in Rottingdean, Solomon gained a place at Laban ( in London. He took part in two auditions and an interview to gain this place. It is part of the Centre for Advanced Training in the Performing Arts and is funded by the DCFS. It offers young people with exceptional talent and potential in dance the opportunity to access high quality dance training and work with professional dance teachers and choreographers. For the last 4 years Solomon has attended Laban every Saturday from 10am to 5pm and intensive courses in the school holidays. At 13 he started travelling up to London by train on his own. During his first year at Laban he was selected to work on a short dance film and worked with the professional choreographer Raquel Meseguer from Lost Dog Dance Company at the Southbank Centre. They also worked in collaboration with young people from Trinity College of Music to create the music. It was shown at both The Southbank Centre and Laban, and I believe was aired on the teachers’ TV channel too.

The following year he secured a place at The Brit School in London ( to study Dance full-time. In order to pursue this he had to leave Longhill and friends in Brighton and commute everyday to London. At that time he was travelling from Rottingdean to London six days a week. (Solomon gained his place at The Brit School whilst being out of catchment. As the school can only legally take 10% of applicants that live out of catchment, Solomon was competing for just 1 of the 2 out of catchment places). During these 2 years we were financially supported by The Pebble Trust here in Brighton to meet the cost of train travel up to London. Their Talent Grants Scheme provides assistance to local young people to allow them to develop exceptional talent.

In his 2 years at The Brit School he achieved the equivalent of 14 GCSEs with a distinction star in BTEC First Diploma in Performing Arts (Dance), gained the gold award in jazz after starting from scratch at the beginning of year 10, worked as assistant choreographer on the end of year 11 production and won the Modern Foreign Languages prize for Spanish.

Solomon is now in year 12 and opted to take his A levels and Dance at Sussex Downs College in Lewes. Thinking that he would be freer and relieved of the 6 days of travelling from Rottingdean to London, he soon filled up all the gaps and became even busier! During this academic year and on top of college he has been travelling up to London 4 times a week. At Laban he attends additional ballet and contemporary classes on Monday and Thursday evenings after Lewes, the all day Saturday Centre for Advanced Training classes and the intensive courses during the school holidays. He then auditioned for and became part of Shoreditch Youth Dance on Sundays with Lee Smikle where he works alongside professional choreographers and students already at full-time dance conservatoires. All this means that he has no weekends or holidays and gets home 2 nights a week at 10pm from London!!

Last year he was part of the Hofesh Shechter Nomad Land dance/film project here in Brighton for the festival and worked alongside one of the company dancers. He also auditioned for and gained a place in the National Youth Dance Company after a countrywide search for 30 dancers. They work with the choreographer Jasmin Vardimon and perform around the country at venues such as The Lowry, Salford and Sadler’s Wells in London.

We are overwhelmed by Solomon’s achievement in getting into P.A.R.T.S. whilst daunted by the prospect of him leaving home a year early. However there is added pressure on us now, and in a short amount of time, to raise money for the course fees and living costs amounting to £15,000 for the first year alone. We would appreciate it if anyone would like to sponsor Solomon or indeed guide us to find viable sources of funding for him. The Performing Arts Research and Training Studios is training in contemporary dance providing a thorough technical training to dancers and choreographers and helps them to develop into independent and creative artists. Solomon’s aim is to become a dancer in a professional dance company in the UK and this training will equip him with the skills and experience needed to do so. He has recently been inspired by Ballet Boyz after watching them at The Dome in January this year as well as choreographers such as Hofesh Shechter, James Wilton and Akram Khan.

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Mother – Margaret, teacher
Rafael – Musician, artist and builder

“I feel as if i have got a golden ticket to attend one of the best dance schools in the world and i am delighted and honoured to be selected after a worldwide audition process however this unfortunately does not mean anything without getting financial help and funding to allow me to attend my dream dance school. After being there for the week long final audition I got attached to the school and I knew that’s where I wanted to be. In that week alone I learned so much. It was enriching and inspirational. I can’t imagine what 3 years of training there will do to me as a dancer! In addition it’s soul crushing and such a shame to be deprived of this opportunity even though I got in if I am prevented from this rare opportunity solely down to no financial backing”

“Dancing allows me to express myself through means other than academia. Learning has always been important to me but as I have dyslexia it doesn’t come easily. Dance has served as a platform for me to challenge and conquer these difficulties and a reason to work even harder to be the best I can. As P.A.R.T.S is such a nurturing environment with a holistic approach to dance and the dancer I feel this is the perfect place for me to develop”

The Social Network FSDS Style !

Rottingdean Local Spotlight

FSDS - Fiona Stewart Local SpotlightWhen I first decided to open Fiona Stewart Designer Silver I was fully aware that marketing and traditional advertising were my only real means of getting my message out to the village shopping public. I duly gathered all the local magazines and newspapers and contacted each, asking key questions such as “what is your current circulation” and “what audience currently reads you”. Making sure that people know you exist is absolutely key to making a business successful.

My doors opened on Burns night January 2008, which was rather apt as my family roots hail from Scotland and my husband Andy even owns the Stewart tartan kilt. The kilt was worn on the opening day which made my father proud to include the family history, the advertising was booked, the flyers were printed, the shop was fully stocked, (although I have to say less stocked than it is now), and we were off and trading.

In 2009 we saw the emergence of a social networking phenomenon called Twitter – I am sure many of you reading this will regularly see celebrities quoted in national newspapers directly from their Twitter feed. I was introduced to this networking opportunity by a friend who was in PR, Jo Brooks, and immediately immersed myself into this new outlet with gusto. The aim of Twitter is to follow and be followed by as many likeminded people as possible, with an important twist – you had to direct line to previously unobtainable people. Such people as Stephen Fry, Jason Bradbury, top journalists, Magazines and even our local author Peter James. As an early adopter I managed to gain a following quite quickly – much to the annoyance of my PR friend as she checked my followers list and was completely gobsmacked as I had overtaken her threefold in less than three months! Despite opening during one of the worst global recessions we have seen in recent years, the shop’s footfall was steady and the return client list showed an increase to the point where December 2011 has been FSDS’s best month of trading to date.

Twitter now seems like normal life to me – I can market my business and communicate with local organisations who keep me versed with all the issues I need to know as a community based business. I can also get up to date news on things like traffic accidents as they happen, news stories immediately, social events and network opportunities and if I am lucky I even get retweeted (a retweet is when somebody re-posts your tweet) an added bonus if by a customer, a respected business person or a celebrity! The most important thing about Twitter – is that is absolutely free of charge – something that doesn’t occur in business very often. Now many events are organised via Twitter. Last weekend, FSDS was at the Vintage Fair an event organised by Rottingdean’s own Elif Kose which I heard about and spread the word through Twitter, and this weekend FSDS will be at the Belles Vintage Wedding Fair at the Hove Centre again heavily marketed and organised via Twitter. I’m also thrilled to see the new business and partnerships coming into the village are using Twitter and of course Rottingdean itself has it’s very own Twitter feed.

“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.” Bill Gates.

As well as getting the word about my business out there, I also use twitter to keep current with many of my designers as it definitely helps build relationships and allows cross pollination of ideas, especially when many of the designers I stock are in different parts of the UK.

Twitter in my eyes has totally changed the way people share information – and while it doesn’t replace any other media which continue to be valuable, for FSDS in particular I find it helps me stay connected with my clients, my designers and my fellow business owners and keeps a very 2012 type of buzz around our historic village of Rottingdean.

FSDS is currently stocking 12 talented Silversmiths including Tina Lilienthal, Lucy Q, Rachel Galley, Molly Brown, Sheila Fleet, Collette Waudby, Gina Stewart Cox, Atelier Gilmar plus designer Scarves, Leather goods, scented Scottish candles – (Fork Handles), Fashion Jewellery, Vintage Jewellery by Rosie Fox, and glassware handmade in Cornwall. The FSDS website is a work in progress and is currently being updated with 300 new photos by photographer Steve Robinson.

See you on Twitter !

Fiona Stewart

FSDS Twitter :
FSDS ecommerce web address:

Bonny Rottingdean wins World Record

Rottingdean Local Spotlight

Bonny family tree - Clive, wife Sue and sons Tom and Ben

Bonny family tree - Clive, wife Sue and sons Tom and Ben

Clive Bonny lives with his wife Sue and two chihuahuas in a house at the top of Nevill Road on Beacon Hill called Windmill Downs close to Rottingdean’s signature Smock Mill.

“I’ve enjoyed the magnificent views across the English Channel since 1966 when my family moved to the south coast from Blackpool. In the summer months in the 1950’s and 1960’s Sue stayed at Rottingdean’s Newick House Hotel. We married in 1976 at St Mary’s Church in Shoreham and enjoyed several years in Roedean before a hop skip and jump onto Beacon Hill. We can still see the Norman church in Shoreham where we spent our childhood, and we have wonderful views from Beachy Head to the Isle of Wight on a clear day.

Rottingdean’s community history is fascinating: a Neolithic flint settlement on Beacon Hill in 3500BC later became the site for Championship bare knuckled boxing fights, and the world’s biggest cricket score, 67, off a single ball. Our village was named in the Doomsday Book after the Norman Conquest. Locals were unlucky victims of the Hundred Years War when in 1377 the French invaded and burned St Margarets Church with the villagers inside; the local vicar supported hundreds of lucky smugglers of wines and spirits via underground tunnels from the shore to the pubs and church. Our local characters include many famous artists, politicians, musicians and writers.

The cobbled flint cottages, pubs and clubs are a tremendous reflection of the village history. Our annual torchlight procession is a testament to this, with over 2000 local people in the high street celebrating in pirate dress the victory over the local tax collectors. The new Localism Bill now gives our Parish Council and local people greater powers to manage our community affairs. I hope our community takes advantage of this over the next few years.

There are many different ways to link into community activities. I enjoy the Rottingdean Camera Club and the Rottingdean (social) Club in the High Street where there are lots of  lively characters. I’m a life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and writer of business pocketbooks. I’m also a member of the Albion 1901 Football Club with over 2000 business members, and we are enjoying great success at the new Amex Stadium. The Brighton Marathon and Half Marathon now bring thousands of runners to our doorstep every year, with Beacon Hill being their turning point. I’ve joined the runners on my roller blades as the cycle way along the cliff from Brighton is a perfect surface.

In the 1980’s I joined the first few London Marathons and my last was on roller blades around the Goodwood Race Circuit for the British Heart Foundation. My eldest son Ben is doing the London to Brighton cycle ride for the same charity this year. I’m walking with the many supporters of the Sussex Heart Foundation from the Marina to Hove on my birthday May 13 to celebrate the achievements of Brighton’s Royal Sussex Hospital cardiac doctors and nurses who recently saved my life!

On the business front my work involves me in advising small businesses and social enterprises how to grow and diversify, reduce costs, and manage risks in these tough economic times. Recent clients have included a waste management charity, a hotel, school academy, football club, website developer, printer, publisher, roofer, surveyor, fencing supplier, chauffeur company, and PR company. Last year I worked with students from Brighton Fashion Week building the world’s largest Pompom from recycled clothes in Jubilee Square. A fifteen foot monster, and it is still visible on You-Tube.

I’m currently encouraging local organisations to a national best practice scheme called the Responsible Business Awards. It recognises people’s achievements in developing enterprises which protect the environment and support community development. Mutual support and reciprocity create resilience, and this award scheme will help communities to sustain themselves, and become more self-sufficient. Sustainability is difficult to achieve without the help of others.

The Royal Society of Arts is also sponsoring  my work to promote the local recycling of clothes to reduce the massive waste going to landfill. 12% of landfill is waste textile materials. Local school students can redesign waste textiles into new items, and in doing so demonstrate their entrepreneurship skills to make them more employable.

I also help others obtain government grants for their own enterprise development. Recycling taxpayers money back to them can produce some great results at very low cost. If you want to know more about that email me at

And thanks for reading this article!