Town feature: Selsey

Selsey Beach on Sunday
Selsey Beach on Sunday

IF there’s one thing clear when you visit Selsey, it’s that there is a real sense of community.

“If you want to sum up Selsey, I know we are not an island any more, but it is that island mentality,” said town co-ordinator Sam Tate.

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“People are so proud they are from Selsey.”

The town, she said, is quite independent from the rest of West Sussex, because of its geographical location ‘at the end of a cul-de-sac’, and because of this island mentality.

There is a high school and two primary schools, holiday park Bunn Leisure provides 500 jobs in the town, and the high street is complete with a butchers, bakers, 
and everything else you 
might need.

A huge amount goes on in the town all year round, with the RNLI lifeboat week, the Selsey arts festival, Selsey fireworks and the carnival.

There is always something to draw people in, and the seaside town has for a long time been a hit with tourists, which leaves it with a real holiday feel.

“It still retains a nostalgic feeling compared to a lot of seaside towns,” said Emma Cawley, who runs Teen Zone and helps run the Selsey Internet Radio.

She said Selsey has not been ‘over-commercialised’ compared with other 
holiday spots.

This could be because it has retained a largely-independent high street, it could be the unspoilt seaside, or it could be the community, which makes Selsey a vibrant place without needing to commercialise it.

There are around 300 organisations, clubs and charities in Selsey, and they all work together to make the town an interesting and fun place to be.

Recently John Fletcher, who sits on the town council, set up the Selsey Internet Radio.

“I thought people didn’t communicate enough in Selsey,” he said.

The internet radio is now up and running and includes information about clubs in the community, information about events, news in the town, and even things like recipes and tips from local people, in the hope it will bring Selsey residents even closer together.

Marjorie Graham runs the Snak Snak – a place for teenagers to visit in the evenings with their friends and enjoy cut-price food.

“It is a town, but with a village mentality,” she said. “It is very community-minded, everybody is concerned about their neighbours and their community. It is a very caring community.”

That is why she set up Snak Shak, because she said there wasn’t much for teenagers to do in the evenings. Now, around 30 teenagers visit the Snak Shak and the 20-plus volunteers have a great relationship with them.

Even the local police said they had seen a reduction in anti-social behaviour since the Snak Shak opened.

Since then, Snak Snak has joined up with another Selsey organisation, Youth Dream, to get funding for a new youth worker in the town, Kylee Scott, showing a real commitment to helping local young people.

These are just a few examples of Selsey looking after itself, doing things for itself and building a close-knit community.

Selsey Lifeboat Week makes it plain just how close the community is. There is a huge sense of pride in the town for their lifeboat station and this is made clear when thousands of residents pour on to the Lifeboat Green to fundraise for this celebrated institution.

And Selsey wouldn’t be Selsey without its beaches. The lifeboat station, the fisherman, the holidaymakers, all are part of what makes up the lifeblood of the town.

And, of course, you can’t leave the fishing town without trying its famous delicacy, the Selsey crab.

As well as all this, Selsey is steeped in a rich history. The town was once the seat of the South Saxons, and there are rumours of an old cathedral lost to the sea – although 
no-one knows for sure 
where it is.

There is one thing you cannot deny about Selsey. It has a charm, whether it is the sea, the independent shops, the great sense of community, or whether it is all of those things, there is something about Selsey.