Hastings recently played host to the recent Annual General Meeting for the National Piers Society. The AGM weekend took place from 10th to 12th June and was attended by NPS members from throughout the UK, Europe, with one member making the trip from Japan for the event!
The AGM weekend started with an evening drinks reception held at the Azur Banqueting Suite, situated on the St Leonard’s seafront, which has spectacular panoramic views of the sea. The reception featured two guest speakers: Steve Peak who is an authority on Hastings Pier and has published the book ‘Pierless Pier’ on the history of the pier; and Simon Opie, well known to many NPS members as the Chief Officer of Hastings Pier Charity. Simon steered the regeneration of Hastings Pier and gave an informative insight into the pier’s battle for survival and the grand re-opening celebrations.
The following day NPS members gathered in the wonderful art deco Sussex Suite at the White Rock Theatre, situated opposite Hastings Pier. The Society’s president, Prof. Gavin Henderson CBE commented on the record attendance at this year’s AGM. Gavin reflected on his love for Hastings and how the resort had changed over the years, culminating in the regeneration of the town and the re-opening of the pier. Those attending the meeting were then treated to Hastings Pier ‘goody bags’ and a presentation from Simon Opie which illustrated the exciting story of the Pier’s renaissance and re-opening.
Once the business of the meeting had been concluded NPS members were then invited for an ‘access all areas’ tour of Hastings Pier, led by Simon Opie, Steve Peak, and David Spooner who had worked as Construction Project Manager on the rebuilding of the pier. The tour highlighted the extent of the work undertaken on restoring the pier and members also got to sample some of the pier’s newest attractions such as ‘The Deck’ visitor centre, the Pavilion restaurant, and the variety of retail huts on the pier. As a special treat the tour was accompanied by The Extreme Cellists who are undertaking a ‘Pier Pressure’ challenge this summer – to play all British seaside piers within two weeks! It was a wonderful afternoon spent in the Hastings sunshine on this spectacular pier.
National Piers Society Members enjoy an ‘under the pier’ tour of Hastings Pier led by Steve Peak and David Spooner.
On Saturday evening NPS members donned their glad-rags for the annual ‘Gala Dinner’ held at the Azur Banqueting Suite. Members were treated to a reprise of the Extreme Cellists’ earlier performance as they arrived for a three-course dinner. The evening was rounded-off by a pier quiz, hosted by committee member Caroline Buttolph. The competition was fierce, with the prize going to deserved winner NPS Media Relations Officer Anthony Wills.
The following morning saw the Society’s members visit Eastbourne Pier. The pier, which has recently been purchased by newly-elected NPS Committee Member Sheikh Abid Gulzar, is currently undergoing significant investment. Mr Gulzar provided an access all areas tour of the pier, including the former pier-theatre which is currently closed to the public. Members visited the newly-refurbished Ocean Suite on the pier for the final event of the AGM weekend: a barbecue lunch and cream tea.
It was fantastic to see so much investment, love and care being lavished on these two wonderful Sussex piers. The NPS thank all who attended and helped to make the 2016 AGM one to remember!