Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

Prime Minister Awards Brighton Priest for Community Action

Prime Minister Awards Brighton Priest for Community Action

A Brighton priest who has created a life-size advent calendar using the iconic ice-cream coloured doors of the beach huts lining the Hove esplanade has been named a Point of Light by Prime Minister David Cameron.

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, 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.

Rev Martin from Brighton is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.

 The project was set up to raise awareness of the meaning of Advent and to give people an opportunity to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas together. Martin spends at least three 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.

Martin is the 183rd winner of the Point of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.

Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.

Rev Martin Poole 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.”

Background:

1. The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

2. The Prime Minister makes daily announcements of the winners to celebrate, encourage and promote volunteering and the value that it brings to the country.

3. Groups and organisations that are demonstrating the Big Society in their work or activities will continue to be recognised by the Prime Minister through the Big Society awards.

4. If people want to nominate a Point of Light they can do so by writing to the Prime Minister.