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The 21st December is the shortest day of the year and the warmer weather certainly seems a very long way off.
 
But the Lowestoft Vision team is already looking forward to next spring, when ballot papers will be sent to all businesses located within our Business Improvement District (BID) to ask if they want to renew the Lowestoft Vision BID for another five years.
 
Now, I know that as Chair of Lowestoft Vision I’m biased, but I really do believe that Lowestoft Vision has made the town centre a better place to work, live and do business over the last five years.
  
This year alone we have arranged a wide range of events - from the 1940s weekend to the Freddie the Fish summer trail, and from the Halloween parade to the Christmas Lights switch on, all of which have seen increased footfall and engagement within the town.
 
We have also continued to part-fund our Police Community Support Officer Mike Soanes to patrol the BID area and supplied security radios that ensure the safety of our community, along with hanging baskets, bunting and banners that have been arranged to improve the look of the town.
 
That’s just a few of our recent successes but we are not complacent – far from it. There is still much more that we would like to achieve on behalf of our local businesses.
 
The final consultation for our BID renewal has already gone out to BID businesses and is available on our website, and shortly we will be sending all BID businesses our business plan for the next five years, should Lowestoft Vision’s remit be renewed. BID businesses will then receive their ballot papers in the spring and will be asked to vote on whether they would like Lowestoft Vision to continue to deliver all the projects and services – and more again - listed in this plan.
 
So 2018 promises to be a good year for Lowestoft. In the meantime, as we approached the end of this year, may I, on behalf of Lowestoft Vision, wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Last week I was on holiday in Somerset with my family including Nia & Joe my Grandchildren. We were staying near to Weston Super Mare, which is almost the same size as Lowestoft. Weston has a great seafront, which was packed with visitors the Sunday we visited the town. One of the main attractions was an agricultural show on a grass area very much like our Royal Green, which I think, was a great idea. They had a fantastic farmers market, livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks and more. They also had children's rides and craft stalls. I wonder if we could do that in Lowestoft?

We also had a day out at Lyme Regis another very attractive seaside town on the Dorset south coast. Interestingly they are having the same problems with seagulls that we have in Lowestoft, in fact my Granddaughter very nearly had her ice cream stolen by one. Along the seafront are signs asking people not to feed the gulls and while I was there I did not see anyone feeding the gulls.

This week back in Lowestoft I have already seen three adults feeding seagulls. What do we have to do to get the message across? Perhaps signs like Lyme Regis.

The 22nd Lowestoft Scores Race is Sunday 10th September only three weeks away so if you have not started your training you best get a move on. Lowestoft Vision are pleased to have been asked to support the race again this year. If you have never seen the race come along this year and witness another great Lowestoft event. The race starts at 2.00pm from the Market Triangle on the Historic High Street. Full details on the Waveney Valley Athletic Club web site www.waveneyvalley.org

I am very pleased to report that this years Lowestoft Vision Summer Trail ‘Freddie the Fish and his Friends’ so far is a great success. 100’s of children and their hard pressed parents have enjoyed tracking down Freddie and his Friends. If you have not had the chance to take your little ones on the hunt then don’t worry there’s still plenty of time the trail will be available till 3rd September. Get all the details from the Discover Lowestoft website www.discoverlowetoft.co.uk

I am delighted to report The Lowestoft Summer festival was a great success despite the vagaries of the British summer weather. The Lowestoft’s got talent event was particularly good. Nine young finalists entertained the crowd showing us just how talented they are, they were all amazing. The judges had a very tough decision but after much debate awarded the first prize to an incredible dancer George Butler. We wish George great success with his dancing in the future.

Too many Lowestoft residence are too quick to knock our town and our youth. the Summer Festival showcased a lot of what we have to celebrate about Lowestoft like our voluntary sector, our sports clubs, our choirs, our young people but most of all the cooperation of many of our organisations to make the event a success so my thanks go to The Lions, Rotary, Lowestoft Vision, Lowestoft Rising, Kirkley Business Group,Waveney District Council, Suffolk County Council, The London Road Baptist Church and The Kirkley Peoples Forum all of which worked hard over many months to put the event on.

And my thanks go to people of Lowestoft that came to see what we had on offer. If you didn’t come along you missed a treat.

As Part of the Summer Festival Lowestoft Vision launched the 2017 Summer Trail. You will recall for the last three years we have run the Turtle Trail. Well the Turtles have now been retired we have for the first time this year ‘Freddie the Fish and his Friends’. 24 beautifully decorated meter high fish are secreted in shops and establishments in the Town Centre waiting to be found. Have a look at the Discover Lowestoft website for all the details of the trail. www.discoverlowesoft.co.uk

I know we are still in the height of Summer and the School Holidays have only just started but Lowestoft Vision has already started planning the Towns Christmas events. We have to plan around six months in advance to make sure we are able to book the performers we want. Even so it is strange to be sat round a table in July talking about Christmas Trees and carol singers. We have some great ideas to make Christmas in Lowestoft this year really special. I will report the details as they are confirmed.

In the meantime have a great summer.

This years Lowestoft Summer Festival weekend will be Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd of July.

There will be as last year a number of events before and after the main weekend including the very successful Schools Sports on the Beach, but today I want to concentrate on the Royal Green events. Firstly, ‘Lowestoft’s Got Talent’ the final of which will be on Saturday the 22nd July on the outside stage on the Royal Green from 3.00pm. The plan is to feature 12 acts, one will be selected by the Judges to receive a prize of £200. It’s free to come along and enjoy the entertainment so make a diary note so you don’t miss it.

All the judges that had the onerous task of selecting the finalists from the acts that came along to the auditions last year were amazed at the level of talent that Lowestoft produced.
Perhaps we should not be surprised when our Town can boast the likes of Justin and Dan Hawkins of the Darkness, the winner of The Voice in 2012 Leanne Mitchell and the links with Benjamin Britten. But never the less it was a surprise, all be it a very pleasant one.

The auditions this year will be held at the Seagull Theatre on Sunday May 7th. Karen Read the Theatre Manager and her team are great supporters of the event, without them it would not happen.

So the question is have you got a talent you want to show off? If you do then you will need to contact Karen at the Seagull Theatre her email is manager@theseagull.co.uk or me at danny@steelandco.co.uk and register now. Places are limited so don’t delay.

The second event I want to highlight is the ‘Collection of Choirs’ which will run from 11.00am on Saturday 22nd July. Last year we had two Choirs perform on the stage both were excellent and very entertaining. So this year I want extend an invitation to any Choir that would like to perform to contact me, we will only be able to accommodate 8 Choirs in 20 minute slots so email me now if you want to part of the Festival.

There is a lot more to the Lowestoft Summer Festival, I hope to be able to bring you full details of the events nearer the date.

I was talking to a chap I know, but have not spoken to for a number of years a few days ago. He was asking me how I was and if I was still working, I confirmed I was still working from my office on the High Street. His answer was “the High Street? I never go up to the High Street there’s nothing worth going up there for”. Obviously I put him right, but it got me wondering how many other Lowestoft residence don’t know what the High Street has to offer?

I can’t possibly list all the 100 plus businesses that operate from the High Street area in this article but I can give you a flavour of whats on offer. How about we start with the fantastic restaurants and bars we have, Chinese, Traditional Tea Rooms, Turkish, Wine Bar, Indian, Thai (Just opened), Fish and Chips, Traditional Cafe, Sandwich Shop, Real Ale Bar, 60’s themed, Kebab House, and Traditional Pub. I have sampled most of them and although some are better than others they are all doing the best they can to make a living and need your support.

If I have not got your attention yet how about some of the specialist shops on the High Street? Oriental Foods, Guitars, Fish and Fish Tanks, Wool, Computer Services, Printing, Property Maintenance, Book Makers, Boxing, Baby Cloths,Turkish Hairdresser, Traditional Hairdressers, Bicycles, Scooters, Gifts, Wet Fish, Green Grocer, Bakers, Estate Agents and loads more.

So if you have not been up the High Street lately then why not have look, it may surprise you.

I am not apologising for sounding like a advert for the High Street because I am a massive supporter of the High Street business some of which are struggling to survive. So there is a very serious point that needs to be made. If we don’t use these Shops Restaurants and Bars we will lose them for ever, and every time a business folds local people lose their jobs

We are all addicted to online shopping, out of town shopping parks and malls, and themed restaurants and bars and no matter what I or others say that will to continue grow. But in this race to become more American don’t forget the independent businesses that are on your door step, before you press the return key to order that item on line ask yourself can I get it locally? And if you can then please do so.

This is an email I was sent by my sister in law Margaret, she picked it up of the internet. I have no idea who originally wrote it but it’s so true and I think worth sharing.

And Then It’s Winter.

You know time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young, and embarking on my new life. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is... the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like. But, here it is my friends are retired and getting grey, they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me but, I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant..but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day. And taking a nap is not a treat anymore, it's mandatory. Cause if I don't of my own free will... I just fall asleep where I sit.

And so now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did.

But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I'm not sure how long it will last, this I know, that when it's over on this earth it's not over. A new adventure will begin.

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done, things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done. It's all in a lifetime.
So, if you're not in your winter yet, let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly. Don't put things off too long.

Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not. You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life, so live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past.
"Life" is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.
Live it well, enjoy today, do something fun, be happy, have a great day.

Remember. 
It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver. 

Lastly consider the following.
 Today is the oldest you have ever been, and the youngest you will ever be so enjoy this day while it lasts.