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Dancer Viviennes hectic Lib-Dem life

Vivienne, 18, as the assistant to the Carnival Queen.

Vivienne, 18, as the assistant to the Carnival Queen.

Aldborough Road resident and professional dance teacher Vivienne Bond talks about herself, her family and her non-stop life as our Lib-Dem councillor. She also reveals a secret passion … and why she hates ‘Borat’.
Vivienne went to Silverdale School in Silverhill, then to Hastings Secondary School (now Hillcrest School). She became deputy head girl and games captain. The games she played were netball, tennis and hockey – ‘badly’. She left at 16 with six GCEs – at the time, she was only in the second year that left that school at 16 – in previous years the kids left school at 15.  She did dancing training locally at Esme Child’s in St Leonards: she went there from age 7 right up to 21. In 1968 she won the gold medallion for Dance at the Hastings Musical Festival when she was 19. This involved best scores for ballet dance and character dance. Vivienne worked as a student/teacher full time at Esme Child’s from the age of 16 up to 21. She left at 20 to get married and for the next ten years she had her own dancing school in Ore Village: the ‘Vivienne Moore School of Dancing’. She met her late husband Chris when he, along with five other young men, took part in a revue which Vivienne was also in. “Chris was very light on his feet.” They got married when Vivienne was 20.
They have four children: Richard, now 38, Sarah, 36, Emily, 27 and Matthew, 26. “My dad, Albert Moore, used to own ‘The Woodworker’ in Ore Village for many years. Prior to that he was a coach builder for cars. Mum was a typical ‘mum at home’, but at 55 she started helping out at ‘The Woodworker’ in the afternoons. She made all of my dance costumes. She used to look after my children in the afternoons as well. My husband Chris became seriously ill in 2000 and we had to close our greengrocery shop. He died in 2001.”
How did Vivienne get into politics? “My husband Chris dropped me in it! He was running our ‘Greenleaves’ greengrocery business in Bohemia Road, at the time, 1998, and the customers had been moaning at him to become a councillor. He didn’t want to be one, but he and Pam Brown, of the Liberal Democrats thought I should become a councillor and ganged up on me. They persuaded me to stand against Keith Wood (Labour) and Eve Martin (Conservative) for Gensing ward – and I won! In 2002, I was knocked out by Andrew Cartwright (Labour), but in 2004, I managed to knock out Ron Rushbrook. I’m now the Lib-Dem councillor for Gensing ward until 2008. I do know what’s going on nationally, but my over-riding interest is in local politics.” Vivienne is on HBC’s Planning Committee, (two Lib-Dem, three Labour and five Tory councillors, plus chair), which meets monthly. “As a councillor, there’s so many things you’d like to do, but funding is the problem with all schemes. If the money’s not there, you just can’t do it.”
What does she like most about the job? “I love attending the civic events: fireworks nights, remembrance services, awards ceremonies and so on. I like to see ordinary people being recognised for giving up their time and their lives to help others.” What does she think about Hastings? “So many people are negative about Hastings, but we’ve got lovely parks, the seaside, good amenities, theatres, the picturesque old town, country parks, good pubs, good schools and nurseries, plus we’re only two hours from London and an hour and a half from Gatwick. The Hastings Tapestry is stored in London – I think it should be on display in Hastings.”
Just how demanding is the job of councillor? “I get up early because I have to go off to work at Torfield’s Nurture Centre, at Elphinstone School. It is a special needs school for 5 to 11 year olds and I’ve been a full-time teaching assistant there for about eighteen months. On the way home, I do some shopping and get in about 4pm. My energy level is usually low at this time. I often have a meeting to go to at 6pm. If it’s a Planning Committe meeting, we usually meet on the site of the property under discussion at 4pm and then meet up again at 6pm at the council offices to discuss the application. We usually finish around 8.30pm. Luckily sandwiches are provided. As a councillor, I have to attend full council meetings every six weeks. These start at 6pm and finish around 8pm but sometimes they can go on till 11pm. I also have to attend HBC Cabinet meetings once a month, as the Lib-Dem spokesman for Housing and Communities. These also start at six and go on to about 8pm. Then there are the fortnightly Lib-Dem Group meetings when we discuss what we will say at the next full council or cabinet meeting. These last from 4.30pm to 6pm. Then there are other Lib-Dem meetings I must attend: every six weeks there’s a branch meeting for Gensing and St Leonards, and every four weeks there’s an executive meeting for the whole of Hastings and Rye.”
Is that the lot? “Well, no, in a personal capacity, I’m also on other committees: the Horntye Park Management Committee, the YMCA Committee, and the Hastings Community Housing Association, and as a councillor, I’m on the Gensing & Central St Leonards Forum and I attend meetings of the Bohemia Area Association. I also have my Gensing ward surgeries once a month at the Lib-Dem centre in London Rd. People often ring me at home or send me e-mails about problems they want help with.”
What about Vivienne the person – what’s her musical taste for instance? “This  runs to light classical. I also like the local group Keane. I went to see Will Young at Brighton. I like musicals: I love Guys and Dolls. I was brought up watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers. I used to be one of the Hastleons, the local acting and singing group, although I can’t act or sing! But I can dance. I still do choreography for the Fairlight Village Pantomime Group. This year, we’re doing Cinderella, or rather next year, as it won’t be on till January.” How does she keep up with the news? “I don’t read daily papers, but I always read the Hastings Observer and the Sunday Times, which is easy to read.  I actually don’t like the ‘Hastings Observer’, there only seems to be bad news in it.  Sometimes I read the Mail on Sunday, and sometimes my son’s Independent. I’m a doing person rather than a reading person.” What’s her taste in TV and films? “I do watch Neighbours, because it’s on when I can watch it. I’m not obsessed with it, and don’t become frantic if I miss an episode. I like dramas and wild life programmes. As I have to be up early in the morning, it means I’m no night owl. I’m usually in bed by 10pm, which means I often only see half a programme. I like the cinema: films I’ve seen recently include Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Pirates of the Caribbean. I shan’t be going to see ‘Borat’ – I really hate that kind of mickey taking.” Does Vivienne get time for hobbies?  “I love gardening, cooking, my three grand-children, (aged 3, 2 and 1) and swimming. My garden’s quite small but I manage to grow some raspberries and strawberries. I love swimming. I just swim up and down, at Summerfields to keep fit. Just recently I’ve started watching football at Harrow Lane.” She likes going out walking with her children and grandchildren.
Any plans for the future?  “I haven’t got a future at the moment. I don’t know if I’ll stay in politics at the end of my term as councillor.”  Has she any secret ambitions? “If I were ever asked to be mayor, I’d find it very hard to say ‘No’.  I used to enjoy serving people in my husband’s fruit and veg shop and now I like to say I’m serving people as a councillor.”
[Interview by John Humphries, Oct ‘06.]

Again, as a girl of 19.

Again, as a girl of 19.


Vivienne as a young woman of 20.

Vivienne as a young woman of 20.


Vivienne pictured today in 2006.

Vivienne pictured today in 2006.

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