The Grand Half Marathon

Friends may wonder what I am doing reviewing a sporty event. I must confess that I didn’t see much running, not even from the prime viewing point of The Grand’s elegant balcony, because for most of Sunday morning I was up the road singing Mozart at St Paul’s Church in West Street. I’ll leave comment on the runners to the sports pundits. I went to The Grand for breakfast, the gossip and to support the Sussex Beacon, Brighton’s illustrious centre for HIV care.

The Grand’s generous sponsorship makes this important charity fund-raising event viable. It raises a lot of money that is essential for the Beacon’s survival in these days of financial restraint and cautious public spending. Of equal importance is the charity’s public profile, educational outreach and community awareness. Our lovely Mayor, Councillor Dee Simson, was there in all her finery. Her support was all the more valid as her daughter was one of those doughty runners down on the tarmac. Among the VIP guests were our local MPs and a host of keen supporters like me who just aren’t up to running, including veteran performer David Raven (aka Maisie Trollette) who was raising money for the Beacon long before it was even built!

These days few people in the Brighton area die of AIDS but there are many living with HIV. The Sussex Beacon exists to help them. These big fund-raising events are also occasions for the city to parade its goodwill and to encourage each new generation to learn about the risks of infection and how to stay safe. Yesterday I too learned a lot, from people with first-hand experience about HIV in Africa and about how important the Beacon is to young people in Brighton today. It really was worth getting up and out extra early.

The Grand Hotel, 25 February 2019

Rating: ★★★★★

Andrew Connal

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