Today's venue is a beautiful one...

March 29th, 2014, 4pm

It was 14°C with nil significant cloud. There was moderate breeze.

The Fishermen’s Chapel in Old Leigh is an unassuming little white building on the edge of town. Looking out to see it’s Blue Cross catches your eye as you walk past it. It’s not grand like the other churches in the area but there is certainly something inviting about it.

The chapel as it stands now was built in the 1930s but the story goes back a lot further than that. It was actually set up in the 1700s after some Leigh-on-Sea sailors were forced to take shelter in Shoreham harbour because of a storm off the West Sussex coast. After a night asleep in their boats they were woken by beautiful singing coming from the people sitting on the harbour wall as part of their early-morning service. The preacher was John Wesley and the fishermen were so enraptured that they asked him to visit their parish. In the following ten years Wesley visited nine times, each time coming back to a larger community. It wasn’t until 1811 that the parish acquired a small chapel to hold services but by 1854 this site was sold off to make way for a new railway line connecting the coast to London. With the compensation they received they built a new chapel where the current building stands.

Over the years it has served the community in many ways becoming a school for children who had not been evacuated during the war. In 1953 when near by Canvey Island suffered catastrophic flooding the rescued individuals were brought to the chapel for shelter, medical care and to receive food. However in recent years like a lot of churches in the area congregations have dwindled and the chapel is now in need of finding a new way in the community.

So on Saturday it relaunched as an arts hub with a day of events highlighting how the chapel can be used for a different kind of spiritual nourishment. On the back of this my friend the wonderful hypnotherapist Zoe Sanders1 and I organised a belated International Women’s Day in aid of Oxfam’s ‘Every Mother Counts’ appeal. Our aim was to provide an evening of nourishment and entertainment with storytelling and song. So with the help of author Syd Moore [2^], wine aficionado Charlie Brown [3^], artist Miss Annabel Dee [4^] & inspirational Sorcha Daly[5^] we did just that.

Those moments before the event start always come with the worry that is felt before a birthday party starts. That feeling that no one will turn up or enjoy themselves provides a knot in the stomach and the faint strains of a headache but thankfully luck was shining on us and we packed the place out to the point where people had to stand!

Hanging around afterwards in the blissful evening sunshine it was wonderful to hear the stories of our attendees. Creating conversations and the opportunity for others to tell stories is such a rewarding thing to be a part of. That’s why I love Hi . Despite writers being spread across the globe it feels like a community. It inspires and it creates. With that the world doesn’t seem so huge and unmanageable but rather a friendly place to be.

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Paul, Conor and David Jazzy said thanks.

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Elisa Adams

Bad manners, my dear Gigi, have broken up more households than infidelity

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