Advent beach

183. Revd Martin Poole

A Brighton priest has created a life-size advent calendar using the iconic ice-cream coloured doors of the beach huts lining the Hove esplanade.

Reverend Martin Poole, priest at St. Luke’s Prestonville in Brighton, masterminded the beach hut advent calendar community arts show in December 2008. Tonight the final door of the 2014 calendar will be opened by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove in front of more than 400 expected attendees. Each hut represents the door of an advent calendar and showcases an artistic festive surprise. This year’s calendar has included a hut filled with work decorated by local schoolchildren from Deepdene School, art exhibitions, Morris dancers and even a mini pub called ‘The Holly and the Ivy’. The project has attracted hundreds of people to the seafront in Hove and has brought the community together to celebrate the festive season.

Martin set up the project to raise awareness of the meaning of Advent and to give people an opportunity to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas together. He spends at least 3 hours per day every day in December facilitating the event as well as numerous hours in the months beforehand in preparation.

Although the event starts in December, preparation and organisation must begin as early as August. Martin’s dedication has paid off every year and the Beach Hut Advent Calendar is now an established tradition at Hove beach.

Martin has drawn on the support of hundreds of volunteers who have helped prepare each of the beach huts, provide refreshments and attract local artists and volunteers to provide entertainment every night. The event also relies on the generosity of 24 beach hut owners, who open up their huts to the community each year.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

“Martin has led the organisation of the Beach Hut Advent Calendar which has become the highlight of festive activities in the area. He is providing a wonderful opportunity for hundreds of residents to gather and celebrate the festive period together. As the final beach hut door is opened this Christmas Eve, I am delighted to recognise Martin’s extraordinary efforts with a Point of Light award.”

Rev Martin Poole said said:

“I’m delighted that this project is being recognised in this way and I’d like to thank the Beyond team of volunteers who help to make this happen and to the many hut owners, artists and helpers who turn up on the seafront in the middle of winter to make this such a wonderful and spiritual experience.”

Councillor Brian Fitch, Mayor of Brighton and Hove said:

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to present Martin with a Points of Light award, particularly as the contribution he is being recognised for is the annual Beach Hut Advent Calendar. The hut the Mayoress and I will be opening presents the Nativity; which, in the form of the star that guided worshippers, has its own important ‘point of light’. Martin’s innovative idea of using a local seaside icon to bring together the community is worth celebrating as are his endeavours in many other fields – he is a star in our city.”

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:

“Martin Poole is a true star of the local community. I’m completely delighted he’s been recognised for all the brilliant work he does – it’s so well deserved. Martin dedicates so much of himself to bringing others together. One of the wonderful ways in which he’s done that is through the ingenious Beach Hut Advent Calendar, which so many people, including myself, look forward to every year.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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