Meet ‘Bognor’s busiest man’
Of course, those who live or are involved in the town are likely to be familiar with Bognor Regis Mayor Pat Dillon already.
A long-time town councillor and now an Arun district councillor, Pat’s diary is positively bursting with events an engagements.
Not that that’s anything new to him, as a long-term trustee of three community organisations and involved with many more, and the deputy mayor last year, he is used to being flat out and says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love every minute of it,” he said. “What I really love is all the different people I meet, there’s so many wonderful people in this community.
“Take yesterday, I was at the War Memorial Hospital for the World War 1 memorial, and met a woman who had done this fantastic silhouette picture of a cross which the council want to get framed.
“She was a lovely lady who stayed out in the foyer because she doesn’t like crowds and we had a great chat.”
Pat lists his week so far: On Saturday it was a dedication at the pier in the morning, followed by Armed Forces Day in Littlehampton.
One Sunday it was opening a fete for the seafront lights; Wednesday was The Regis School’s excellence awards, then on Thursday it was two services for The Day Sussex Died at the hospital and outside the Town Hall.
Pat is a trustee at The Regis Centre - which he fondly calls ‘an amazing community asset’ - as well as for Bognor Community Action Network and Shopmobility.
He is also leads the Pevensey and Orchard Wards for Think Family, a collaborative council initiative helping families in need, where Pat gives one-to-one support and helps organise a host of community events.
A plumber by trade, Pat does everything from fixing the Regis Centre roof to helping elderly people when they fall (as he did recently when he not only came to a town visitor’s aid, but drove her to and from the War Memorial Hospital to make sure she was OK).
Pat was born in Wimbledon and like many, ended up moving to Bognor after first visiting.
“I came to Bognor for the first time in 1964 when I was 17 because I got a job in Butlins,” he said. “I was a washer-upper and it was a fun place to be, it was a nice place to be and the seafront was very lively.
“I moved here with my wife, Maureen, 12 years ago and I was shocked at the change.
“It was working here (in the Regis Centre) that led me to becoming a councillor, meeting different people and not liking the way the town had changed and wanting to help.”
Pat, who has three children and three grandchildren, feels the different factions of the Bognor community could integrate better.
He said: “After the EU Referendum I’ve heard about racism and bigotry, fortunately not in Bognor and I hope there never will be, but elsewhere in the country.
“As a nation we’ve been through some bad times before, even before the First World War and always pulled together.
“The vote to leave is done, we’ve got to all move forward and accept it, and accept that everybody deserves to be here if they are working hard and paying their taxes.
“People my age will remember back in the ‘50s when we had a lot of Polish come here, as well as West Indians and others, and people mixed well.
“There is a problem with integration in Bognor, it goes both ways because different groups might not always understand each other properly.
“But I see groups of kids from different countries playing together nicely, it’s the adults who have the problem.
“Ten years down the line I guarantee everyone will be getting along, you won’t have half the trouble you sometimes have now.”
In a flash, a Pat is off to his next engagement, an Arun planning briefing, and he’s looking forward to attending this Saturday’s Kite Festival in the town.
“He’s a lovely man, he really is,” said Hazel Latus from The Regis Centre. “He volunteers here, there and everywhere, there’s nobody who does more than Pat, he’s just an all-round good egg.”
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