Laverstoke Park Farm has something for all summertime alfresco eating occasions, be it picnic, festival camping, barbeque or summer time ice-cream treats in the blazing sunshine!

The Al Fresco Picnic Box (£37 incl delivery) makes picnic preparations a dream – simply order in delicious, organic farm treats all ready to enjoy and off you go to the park, countryside or beach! Organic salad, Buffalo brie and bacon quiche, organic sausage rolls, Mediterranean vegetable pie, buffalo mozzarella all make up a feast of perfect summertime grazing along with Laverstoke’s own organic lager. After a snooze on that picnic blanket, delve back in to discover organic buffalo milk yoghurt, Buffalo milk fudge and finally buffalo chocolate.

New essential festival packing along with wellies, is the Summer Festival Foodie Box (£38 incl delivery) created to help you thrive and survive the summer festival season. Setting you up for the day, breakfast is taken care of with delicious organic (and nitrate fee) sausages and bacon along with treats to sustain, including – quiches, sausage rolls, biltong bites, jerky and more.

Summer time barbequing is a Laverstoke speciality, with so many cuts and breeds to choose from to marinade and chargrill to perfection. The farm’s Barbeque Box (£45 incl delivery) offers a delicious selection for outdoor chefs to prove their prowess! The box features – organic Wild Boar Burgers, Buffalo and Chilli burgers, Butterfly cut Lamb leg, a whole chicken portioned along with pork and leek sausages and nitrate free bacon.

For a more modest barbeque or sausage sizzle – there is Laverstoke’s selection of truly meaty sausages and burgers, made with only the finest cuts and no fillers or preservatives. Choose from – organic lamb and mint, buffalo, buffalo with mozzarella and basil burgers or sausage variants include, all organic -pork & smoked bacon, classic pork or Buffalo & smoked bacon.

Of course, it isn’t summer without ice-cream – in abundance! The farm’s rich, dense, buffalo ice-cream has a well rounded mouth-feel and a natural freshness that is utterly moreish. Not only delicious, Laverstoke ice-cream is100% natural as well with no additives, stabilizers or emulsifiers. There is an abundance of variants to choose from – strawberry, liquorice, Dolce, chocolate and now new for summer 2014 – ginger and lemon curd.

Click HERE to visit the Laverstoke Park Farm Website

dogHow do you fancy becoming a foster carer…for a dog?

Medway Council is launching an innovative new scheme to place stray dogs in loving homes until full time owners can be found.

The council picked up around 1,000 stray dogs last year and, alarmingly, it’s a figure that’s growing and means kennel space is at a premium.

There are many reasons a dog ends up wandering the streets, sometimes it’s simply accidental and they’ve escaped from their owners, other times it can be more sinister as dogs are deliberately abandoned.

The rise in strays could be linked to people finding it tougher to afford to keep a pet. But around 300 dogs are returned to their owners each year because they are microchipped. You may not know it, but the council can offer you free microchipping for your pet – giving you complete piece of mind should it go missing.

For those dogs where the owners can’t be simply traced through a microchip, the future isn’t as bright. Once picked up by community wardens, they spend a week in the care of the council at Jasmil Kennels near Sittingbourne. If the owner is still not traced or doesn’t come forward to claim their dog, the kennels then become responsible for the pet and will try and find it a loving home.

If an owner can’t be found, the dog, sadly has to be put to sleep as a last measure. That’s a situation nobody wants to see and is why the new foster carers for pets scheme could help prevent that by placing dogs in an approved and loving home.

Placing them in a home while a full time owner is found helps free up space at the kennels and – more importantly – is better for the dog. Cllr Peter Hicks, Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, said: “We hope our new initiative will provide a better future for dogs, who through no fault of their own, have found themselves on the streets.

“And it is vital owners get their pets microchipped. “Microchipping will be compulsory from 2016 but we can provide this service, free and now, in the comfort of your home.” Medway Council’s website has daily updated details and pictures of stray dogs in a bid to get them reunited with their owners quicker.

You can also find details of how you can re-home an unwanted dog at www.medway.gov.uk
Medway Council is to hold it’s fourth annual A Day for Every Dog event this summer.

Environmental Protection and Community Wardens will be out and about across Medway offering:

• Free microchipping
• Free agility training and dog behaviour advice from Borstal Barkers Dog Training
• Free advice on dog law and how it affects you
• Fun interactive sessions with dogs for children
• Free dog food samples.

You’ll be able to find us at the following locations:

• Wednesday 30th July – Gillingham Park
• Friday 1st August – Recreation ground rear of Laburnum Road, Strood
• Friday 8th August – Luton Recreation Ground
• Wednesday 13th August – The Vines, Rochester
• Friday 15th August – Recreation ground rear of Pottery Lane, Hoo
• Tuesday 19th August – Capstone Country Park
• Thursday 21st August – Hillyfields
• Saturday 23rd August – Riverside Country Park – including Dog Show
• Friday 29th August – Great Lines Heritage Park

Each day the event will run from 11am to 3pm. On Saturday 23rd August at Riverside Country Park we will also be holding a free fun dog show, exhibitors can enter their pooches into classes. Registration is from 11am and judging starts at noon.

The world will soon be at your fingertips, anytime, anywhere in Medway. Over the next 12 months free Wifi will be rolled out, giving anyone in Medway 30 minutes free internet surfing every day, and 24 hour access to online council services.

Wifi is tecnhology that allows electronic devices such as smart phones, tablets and computers to connect to the internet wirelessly using radio waves. High streets and other busy areas will be the first to get connected and within one year, the whole of Medway will be online. The move is set to benefit residents and local businesses alike.

Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning and Economic Development said: “This is great news for Medway. It will provide people with great freedom to surf the internet and open up online council services to everyone, all day every day. This is really going to help keep Medway connected.

“This is an example of how Medway Council is keeping up with technology in order to provide the best services for people in the area.” The project is in the very early stages of development and it expected to be complete by this time next year.

billyelliotA schoolgirl from Gad’s Hill School, Higham has got her first taste of stardom after landing a role in a hit an internationally award-winning West End musical.

Thirteen year-old Zara Gilhooly started performing in smash-hit Billy Elliot the Musical at the Victoria Palace Theatre this month as a ballet girl, alongside the central character of Billy in Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet class. Mrs Wilkinson’s ballet girls feature throughout the show as the children’s ensemble, accompanying Billy on his dancing journey.

Zara, from Meopham, said she was “absolutely loving every minute” of the experience.

The talent dancer has been performing from the age of three, joining her current dance school, the Robyn Academy, Gravensend at the age of 10, winning a number of competitions including the prestigious ‘Most Promising Dancer’ trophy at the Beckenham amateur dance festival.

“It was so nerve-wracking waiting to hear if I had got the part,” Zara said.

“I really love dancing and performing and this is just such a good opportunity – I’ve never before performed in the West End and I’d love to make it my career when I leave school.”

When asked what her school friends thought of Zara’s star turn she said: “They think it’s cool and I hope a lot come to see me in it.”

Zara’s Headmaster, Mr David Craggs said: “If Zara doesn’t land a performing arts career, I would be very surprised. It is obvious that Zara has talent. We’re all really proud of her for winning the part in a top London musical. The future looks very bright for Zara.”

Based on the Oscar nominated film, Billy Elliot the Musical is an inspirational story of one boy’s dream to realise his ambitions against the odds. Set in the North East of England against the background of the historic 1984/85 miners’ strike, Billy pursues his passion for dance in secret to avoid disapproval of his struggling family.

Multi award-winning Billy Elliot the Musical had its world premiere at the Victoria Palace Theatre on 31 March 2005 and has now been seen by over 9.5 million people worldwide.

Billy Elliot the Musical features music by Elton John, book and lyrics by Lee Hall, is directed by Stephen Daldry with choreography by Peter Darling. The production features scenic design by Ian MacNeil, the associate director is Julian Webber, costume design is by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Rick Fisher and sound design by Paul Arditti. Musical supervision and orchestrations are by Martin Koch.

LISTINGS INFORMATION BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL

Booking until: Currently booking until 16 May 2015
Theatre: Victoria Palace Theatre, Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5EA
Box Office: 0844 248 5000
Tickets: £20.70 – £68.70 (to include a £1.20 theatre restoration levy)
Performances: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm
Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm
Website: www.billyelliotthemusical.com

alice

The Easter holiday Pantomime, Alice in Wonderland, is at The Woodville starring the legendary Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee as well as Steve Hewlett, the ventriloquist who shot to fame with his puppet versions of Sinita and Simon Cowell on ITV1′s Britain’s Got Talent.

Alice in wonderland is a great Easter treat with a live band, comedy, mind blowing magic and a west end calibre cast, including Ant Payne and Robert Pearce.

The pantomime show dates are Friday 4 April, Saturday 5 April and Sunday 6 April.

There is also more family fun at The Woodville with the Old MacDonald Had A Farm show. This fun filled farmyard tale with action, puppetry and animation brings to life all the best loved characters from the original nursery rhyme along with a medley of games, giggles and singalong songs. Show dates are Friday 28 March and Saturday 29 March.

For more information and to book tickets go to http://www.woodville.co.uk or cdll box offices on 01464 337774

pccloft‘A beacon of excellence in partnership working’ was how Police and Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes described the work of the housing association, Moat, and charity Word on the Street.

The two organisations joined forces to create a community centre called The Activity Loft, an ordinary three-bedroom house on the once-troubled Vineries Estate in Gillingham that is now the heart of a peaceful community.

Young people from the estate use the house to do their homework, use the computers and to ‘hang out’. The centre is also used for coffee mornings as well as a parent and toddler group. Other services provided by Word on the Street include mentoring sessions and home visits.

The Activity Loft was the brainchild of Moat, following consultation with local young people who wanted a safe, secure place to socialise and make new friends.

But the service has become such a popular space, more room was needed. A team of companies came to the rescue, building a conservatory and refurbishing the house from top to bottom – free of charge.

Mrs Barnes officially opened The Activity Loft, which was funded by Maulyte, The Window Company, Armour, Allied Protection, Wiggintons, Playle and Partners, Cleanscapes and Keepmoat.

She was particularly keen to hear how the centre had cut so-called low level crime and anti-social behaviour. Mrs Barnes said: ‘This centre is a real beacon of excellence of partnership working. What you all have created here is special. I want to do all I can to help young people avoid getting into a life of crime. Places like this support that work so thank you.’

Moat’s Regional Business Manager, Pam Millington, said: ‘We are incredibly grateful for all of the generous contributions towards the provision of the Activity Loft conservatory. The Loft is already a well-used and valued community facility so this additional space will allow The Word on the Street team to organise more activities for local people to enjoy.’

WALKS 1ST HALF YEAR 2014137 - Copy

MBEA Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance doctor today (Friday) received his MBE from Her Majesty the Queen, for services to emergency medicine.

Dr Malcolm Russell was formally invested as a Member of the Order of the British Empire at Windsor Castle after being named in the New Year’s Honours List.

The father-of-two was presented with his award by Her Majesty the Queen at the castle’s Waterloo Chamber, watched by his proud wife and children.

He said: “It has been an amazing day and I felt honoured to have my MBE presented by Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle.

“I felt humbled to be amongst some incredible people and very thoughtful of the work our charity does and the many people we strive to help.”

Dr Russell joined the Air Ambulance as Clinical Lead in 2007, when the Surrey and Sussex helicopter was first launched.

Last year, he was appointed as the life-saving charity’s Medical Director responsible for assuring the quality of care provided by its doctors and paramedics.

Dr Russell served in the British Army for 15 years and has been involved in pre-hospital emergency medicine since 1996.

In 2011, he was part of a 50-strong UK International Search and Rescue Team who helped victims of the New Zealand earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

* If you would like to make a donation to the Air Ambulance please call 01622 833833 or go to www.kssairambulance.org.uk

The Chancellor should look again at the nation’s Stamp Duty thresholds, an archaic tax structure which is distorting the housing market, says RICS as part of its 2014 Pre-Budget statement.

The existing ‘slab’ Stamp Duty system taxes a percentage of a home’s purchase price according to which value bracket it happens to fall into. For instance, a buyer purchasing a property for under £250,000 would pay one percent of the price in tax, while a home sold for just one pound more would generate a tax bill of three percent. This means that many buyers are financially unable to venture above the threshold and vendors may have to price their home below what they may otherwise have sold it for. RICS believes that the government should consider a fairer, marginal rate to replace the current structure which sees few homes come onto the market at between £250,00 and £275,000 whether or not they are worth that price.

The government should also consider adapting Help to Buy to suit individual regions’ needs. Sixty percent of RICS members surveyed believe that adjusting the scheme on a regional basis would make the market more sustainable. Furthermore, half of those who are in favour believe that the funding should be limited purely to first time buyers. RICS would like to see the government reassess the scheme with a view to providing the relevant help according to an individual region’s needs.

Garden cities could prove a good means of boosting the supply of homes on the market. However, these cities need to be located in places where people are able and willing to live, close to sources of employment and the houses need to be affordable housing. To make the garden cities a reality the government needs to publish its outline prospectus to test the market by giving potential developers, communities and investors clarity and certainty.

While much progress has been made in recent years regarding empty property rates, unoccupied shops and offices that require refurbishment before being re-let are still subject to prohibitive business rate tax. This situation acts as a huge disincentive for landlords to ensure their premises are brought up to quality and environmental standards. RICS would like the government to consider a rate exemption period for these premises which would also result in more work for smaller, local construction firms, while helping the commercial property sector meet its April 2018 target of making buildings more environmentally sustainable.

Jeremy Blackburn, RICS Head of UK Policy, said:

“This is a very important Budget for the Chancellor and one which will shape the economy in the run-up to the general election. A major area of concern in the property sector, at present, is the current Stamp Duty system which is both out-of-date and distorts the market by taxing buyers disproportionately high amounts should they go just one pound over the pre-set thresholds. A more intelligent, modern way of taxing property sales is needed for a market which is changing at a rate of knots.

“We would also like to see George Osborne provide more detail as to exactly what is meant by new garden cities and precisely how they would benefit communities and the economy. Taxing landlords who renovate their empty shops and offices is also on burden on the economy and discourages owners from taking their premises out of circulation to meet environmental standards.”

Santa Maria 7 Drawer ChestFrom life at sea, to the Santa Maria range from Little Tree Furniture

During his first voyage, Christopher Columbus’ largest ship was called the Santa Maria. Its impressive size and performance in the Atlantic crossing made the Santa Maria his flagship vessel. Pertaining to a rich history of exploration at sea, Little Tree Furniture’s aptly named Santa Maria range is made almost entirely from reclaimed boat timbers…

The Santa Maria upcycled furniture range creates a contemporary twist using vintage timbers – some of which are more than 150 years old. The wood displays a plethora of colours and etchings from its original purpose in boat hulls. Each one differs from the next – making every piece completely unique.

The boats might have made their final voyage at sea; however, Little Tree Furniture’s Santa Maria range ensures the existing attributes of the wood are not wasted and thrown on the shipping scrapyard! Providing a new lease of life for the timber, Little Tree Furniture has designed a range consisting of 12 furniture pieces that boast beautiful visual appeal; such as the Santa Maria Lamp Table, Console and Storage Chest.

The Santa Maria range exudes character, which can be truly admired and appreciated in the home.

www.littletreefurniture.co.uk Stockist: 01424 734191

Transfer StationMore than 100 businesses from the construction, waste and maintenance industries attended a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event in Chatham hosted by Medway Council.

Councillor Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council, said “It was great to see such a big turnout to the second Meet the Buyer event with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) well represented. I had lots of positive conversations with suppliers pleased at the open and innovative approach we are taking. I believe Medway Council is starting to position itself at the forefront of public sector procurement. ”

Workshops on how to fill out tender documents, details about the online tendering process and advice from experts gave businesses an insight into improving opportunities to win council work.

Neville Gaunt, North Kent Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses for Kent & Medway said: “It is great to see Medway Council changing the environment for SME procurement. I hope the local business community responds well to the opportunity it gives them. The FSB fully supports simple and creative thinking to get best value to all. I was particularly impressed that Medway has set itself a target for contracting with SMEs which is double the Prime Minister’s target for Government Departments.”

A number of the organisations who currently contract with the council, and who are looking for suppliers, attended including waste contractors Veolia, highways company Volker and building maintenance business Medway Norse.

Andrew Cottrell a Manager with the Leadbitter Group who have been contracted to build the new £11million Abbey Court Special Educational Need school said: “This was a brilliant event where we received lots of contacts with local suppliers. We applaud Medway Council in seeking to provide opportunities for Medway businesses and are impressed at their target to spend 50 per cent of their contracts with SMEs.”

Medway Council is also committed to the development of apprenticeship opportunities with local firms with a range of schemes and offers a £2,000 subsidy to qualified employers.

Kerry Linley, Account Manager with apprentice specialists TrAC, said: “This is easily the best meet the buyer event we have attended. Medway Council clearly mean business when it comes to apprentices and we were very impressed by the target in their procurement strategy that for every £1 million contract suppliers must provide at least one apprentice. We look forward to working with Medway to provide young people opportunities across the Borough and Kent.”

skier
Chatham’s Charlotte Evans made Medway proud as she, alongside Kelly Gallagher, won gold at the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.

It was the first gold medal to be won by a British team in skiing at either the Winter Olympic or Paralymic Games.

Now, the Mayor of Medway Josie Iles hopes to congratulate Charlotte on her success with an invitation to afternoon tea.

She said: “This is such a great acheivement. Not only have Charlotte and Kelly won gold medals, they are the first to do it in this sport.

“I am immensely proud, as I am sure the rest of Medway is and would be delighted to invite Charlotte for a celebratory afternoon tea in the Mayor’s Parlour when she returns from Sochi.”
Charlotte and Kelly, who is visually impaired, took part in the Super-G total skiing event and their winning time was one minute, 28.72 seconds

Day Of The Opening 14-5-14Upcoming exhibition at Rochester Art Gallery – Time Lapsed

A Medway artist will be showcasing her creative talents in the latest exhibition at Rochester Art Gallery.

Marissa Mardon – a painter from Rochester – will debut pictures of the historic town amongst a new display called ‘Time Lapsed’.

Mardon is known for her paintings of traditional landscapes using monochrome colours, but this exhibition shows an experimental side of the artist as she moves away from her usual style.

Many of the oil paintings will illustrate Medway’s rich history and reflect on the area’s ongoing regeneration.

Her canvases are bare in places, revealing visible pencil marks and brush strokes to show how a painting has developed over time – a fact that has helped inspire the name for this exhibition.

Visitors will also be able to watch a short film, capturing the process of Mardon’s work and how an image evolves from beginning to end.

Some of her pieces have been showcased at galleries throughout Britain and found homes across the world.

Also on display at the exhibition will be ceramics by two other artists. Imogen Noble will be presenting a selection of her crafted pots, rich in colour and inspired by natural patterns such as weathered stone and wood.

She will be joined by Raewyn Harrison, who will display her clay creations based on the themes of architecture, industry and tidal landscapes.

The artists’ work will be further complimented by historic objects loaned from the Rochester Guildhall Collection.

The exhibition will run from 28 March to the 1 June with a special preview on the 27 March between 6.30pm and 8.30pm. Free Admission. Opening times are Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and Sundays, 10.30pm to 5pm

Advertorial on behalf of Experian PLC

One in five have had their creditworthiness impacted by a partner’s bad credit rating.

Only 3% have ever filed a financial disassociation following a relationship ending.

Money may not buy you love but romance can certainly play havoc with your finances, as almost a fifth of Brits (17%) have seen theirs and their partner’s credit ratings negatively impacted by their relationship.

Research from Experian, the global information services company, has found that one in eight (12%) people say they have been impacted by a current or former partners’ bad credit rating, while a further 5% have admitted that they have had a negative impact on their partners’ credit worthiness.

Yet the Experian CreditExpert research found that only 3% of people have ever filed a note of financial disassociation – a credit divorce in effect, which lets lenders know that a couple should no longer be seen as ‘a couple’.

With a quarter (24%) of people not knowing what financial disassociation is, this suggests many in the UK may still be financially linked to others without even being aware of it.

When you share financial associations such as a joint account or a mortgage, your credit reports become linked which can mean that when you apply for credit, lenders will see not only your credit report, but also the financial links to others.

Therefore your credit worthiness could be based on not only on how well you have managed your finances over the last six years, but also how well your partner or ex-partner has managed theirs.

A fifth of those impacted by financial associations believe that they found it more difficult to get a mortgage a result of partners or ex partner’s poor credit rating and furthermore, that when they were successful in securing a mortgage, that they were charged a more expensive interest rate as a result. 22% stated that they have been unable to get a loan for the same reason and nearly a quarter (24%) found getting a credit card more difficult or expensive.

Peter Turner, Managing Director at Experian Consumer Services, UK & Ireland, commented:
“Talking about finances can be an uncomfortable subject for many but setting up joint finances can be one of the biggest commitments you can make in a relationship. Few of us will have a perfect history of managing our finances but by addressing your financial circumstances and your credit history upfront together, at the very least you could save any nasty surprises further down the road such as being turned down for credit you really need.

“For those whose relationships sadly end, it’s important to ensure any joint finances are also separated to regain financial independence. If the mortgage is the only remaining joint debt with your ex-partner and you’ve lived apart from more than six months, you can still ask us to break the link between your credit reports. The effect of this will be to stop any information about your ex affecting your credit rating in the future which can be a big step in moving forward.”

Experian CreditExpert has the following advice for those considering joint finances:

1. I do…do I?
The first step in setting up joint finances is deciding if they are the right choice for you and your partner. To better understand the impact joint accounts could have on your future credit worthiness, you will need to review your own credit report to get a complete overview of your own credit history.

2. Take your time…
Take the time to review both your credit reports, ensure everything is accurate and up-to-date and if you dispute any information, contact Experian to raise a dispute who will work to resolve it with the lender in question. Tell us which entry is inaccurate, and what’s wrong with it. You can either do this by email, post or using our online query forms. All Experian’s contact details can be found here: http://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/contact-us/index.html.

3. What’s your score?
Your Experian Credit Score is a guide that will help you understand how your credit history is likely to be viewed by lenders and will also help you both understand if one partners credit history needs a little work before any joint credit applications, such as a joint mortgage.

4. A helping hand…
If you have a less than perfect credit history, the Experian customer service team will help you identity ways in which you can improve your Experian credit score and the picture your credit report paints of your financial situation. Making little changes to improve your credit report can make a big difference, not only getting in getting credit but also to the interest rates you could be charged.

5. Full disclosure
If your financial situation changes, make sure you keep your partner informed before it becomes an issue. If one or both have had trouble managing your finances and debts are a real struggle, get free, confidential advice from organisations such as Citizens Advice, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service or National Debtline.

Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, has launched a new grants scheme to help local people.

The ‘Commissioner’s Fund’ will give away £100,000 over the next financial year. It aims to support the hundreds of unique, community-led projects that can make a real difference to safety and crime prevention in our towns and villages.

Voluntary organisations and not for profit groups will be able to apply for grants up to £2,000 that demonstrate a positive impact on a community.

Applications, which open today, must meet one or more of the following criteria:

• Prevent and reduce re-offending

• Support victims of crime

• Empower local communities to work together to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour

All grants will initially be reviewed by the Kent People’s Trust – a local charity that aims to prevent crime and anti-social behaviour – with the final decision being made by the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, and where appropriate with input from the new Youth Commissioner.

Discussing the launch of the new scheme, Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted to be able to launch this grant scheme for local people. Local communities know their patch and they understand what needs to be done to make it a better place.

‘I firmly believe that even a small investment will rally local people into playing their part in finding community solutions for local issues. I want people to be innovative and creative with their ideas and I’m really looking forward to giving local communities a cash injection.’

Bryn Price, Director of Kent People’s Trust said: ‘The charity has over 12 years of experience in community grants and we are really delighted to have been asked to provide our expertise as part of this new exciting project. Both the charity and the Commissioner have one common aim and that’s to make Kent a safer place.’

Applications will be accepted throughout the year. Full terms and conditions and information on how to apply can be found at www.kent-pcc.gov.uk/commissionersfund

• Spring Stroll guided walk around estate followed by roast lunch
• Great Armarda invasion – Tudor living history experience
• ‘Mum’s the word’ secret Morse code Messages for Mother’s Day

There’s plenty happening at Penshurst Place & Gardens at weekends during March with a new event just for adults taking place on 16th March. Take a two hour Spring Stroll with the estate’s General Manager as he guides a group on an escorted walk around the beautiful parkland and grounds at Penshurst Place, and then enjoy a two-course roast lunch afterwards in the Garden Restaurant.

For families there’s the chance to experience Tudor life with the Great Armada invasion on 22nd and 23rd March when a cast of skilled, costumed actors will be at Penshurst Place to give a living history presentation on the preparations by the household ahead of imminent attack by the Spanish fleet.

‘Mum’s the word’ for young visitors with free war-themed family activities available in the Education Room for Mother’s Day on 30th March. As part of the ‘Sir and Soldier’ season, there will plenty of things to occupy children on Mother’s Day including the option to make a Morse-code necklace with hidden secret message for their Mum or to hand-make their own Mother’s Day poetry card in the Education Room. There’s an opportunity to further spoil mothers (and grandmothers, aunts or anyone who deserves a special thank you) to a lovely Mother’s Day lunch in the Garden Restaurant with a special menu. No booking necessary, visitors seated on a first come, first served basis.

MARCH EVENTS – MORE DETAILS

SPRING STROLL & LUNCH – ADULT EVENT: 16TH MARCH

Dust off your walking shoes for a leisurely two hour walk and then reap a tasty reward for your physical exertion.

A brand new walking event for adults to enjoy at Penshurst Place & Gardens on 16th March between 11am and 2pm. Journey across the beautiful estate and learn about its Tudor history on the way. This special Sunday walk is led by Penshurst Place’s General Manager and is followed by a delicious two-course roast lunch in the Garden Restaurant.

Tickets £22 (to include private parking, guided walk, two-course roast lunch and access to the Gardens) www.penshurstplace.com/etickets

THE GREAT ARMADA ADVENTURE: 22ND & 23RD MARCH (12 NOON TO 4PM)

Experience life at Penshurst Place as the militia prepares to ward off the Spanish Armada. Skilled costumed characters bring history alive as they invite visitors to join them in the Staterooms as the Penshurst Place household prepares for invasion.

Normal garden admission prices apply. For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

CELEBRATION OF MOTHER’S DAY: 30TH MARCH

With fun craft activities to suit all ages and a special menu in the Garden Restaurant, Penshurst Place will be ‘the place’ for families to celebrate Mother’s Day this year.

Children will be able to treat their Mums to a handmade Mother’s Day poetry card or present her with a hidden Morse code message on a necklace in the Education Room.

Normal garden admission prices apply. For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

APRIL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS

EASTER HOLIDAY FUN: 5TH – 21ST APRIL

Penshurst Place will have lots of fun craft and trail activities as part of its ‘Sir and Soldier’ themed season of WW1 commemoration events running in April.

Every day during the Easter school holidays, families can join an egg hunt with a twist! Rather than seeking Easter eggs, visitors to Penshurst Place are invited to help hunt down the carrier pigeons with their hidden secret messages, in a fun trail around the playground.

Pigeons played an important communication role during WWW1, and proved an extremely reliable way of sending messages across enemy lines. Using the story of carrier pigeons, children will learn more about the communication methods during the Great War and enjoy a fun trail that will take them on an inspiring educational journey of discovery.

The education room will continue the war-theme with craft activities available from 12 noon each day. Youngsters will be invited to create their very own carrier pigeon or soldier bonnet and enjoy Easter colouring activities.

Normal garden admission prices apply. For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

EASTER STORYTELLING: 20TH – 21ST APRIL

The story of Cher Ami, a WW1 carrier pigeon and her friends will be unveiled as part of Penshurst Place’s ‘Sir and Soldier’ themed season of WW1 commemoration events. Families are invited to gather in the medieval buttery at 2pm, 2.45pm and 3.30pm to hear skilled story tellers from Aardvark Productions bring the account of a Great War carrier pigeon to life and explain through tale, the critical communication role these homing birds had throughout World War 1.

Normal garden admission prices apply.
For more information visit www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

Other things to see and do while visiting Penshurst Place and Gardens during March and April:-

• Toy Museum
• House (Sats & Suns only in March, daily from April)
• Woodland Trail
• Adventure Playground
• Garden Restaurant
• Porcupine Pantry
• Gift Shop
• The Gardens: spring flowering bulbs in the Orchard, Nut Garden, Lime Walk and Horse Pond and spring blossom in the Orchard, Nut Garden and Flag Garden

Most events are included in standard admission price unless otherwise stated. Full details of the event calendar for 2014 can be found at www.penshurstplace.com/whatson.

willadamsobrien
Ofsted has praised a centre for youngsters who have been excluded from school for its outstanding teaching.

Inspectors said students at the Will Adams Centre in Gillingham were getting the qualifications needed to help them on to further education or employment.

They have rated the centre – which caters for more than 40 teenagers in Years 10 and 11, all of whom have learning difficulties – as ‘good’, the second highest accolade possible and a step up from the last inspection.

Ofsted described teaching as “typically good and some is outstanding” and went on to say teachers encourage students to achieve a high standard of work.

Inspectors said that while most students join with a history of negative attitudes towards school, staff work hard to engage them and, as a result, behaviour improves rapidly.

They also said students do better at Will Adams than most pupils attending Pupil Referral Units elsewhere in the country.

Cllr Mike O’Brien, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, said: “I am delighted Ofsted has recognised the tremendous work that is going on at the Will Adams Centre.

“The turn around in student performance and attitude once they get to Will Adams is simply incredible and a real credit to all the teachers and the leadership team.”

The centres headteacher, Karen Bennett, said: “We are thrilled the inspectors have praised the work going on here and the performance of students.

“When pupils reach us, their knowledge and skills are often below the expectations for their age, however, Ofsted has pointed out how they progress rapidly here and leave us equipped with the qualifications to go on to further education or employment. That’s quite an achievement”

Burlesque63Red
Flushed with success, now entering its fourth fabulous year, the world’s original touring burlesque spectacular is about to hit town.

Officially Britain’s biggest burlesque extravaganza – a quarter of a million people have now seen this show – An Evening of Burlesque is responsible for exposing the cream of the West End of London’s thriving burlesque scene to the world. Not only has the ever-so-cheeky production revealed the secrets of the art of burlesque to delighted audiences across the UK, it has also thrilled theatregoers at the swishest venues throughout Europe as well.
From Milan to Zurich, St Petersburg to Minsk, Leipzig to Verona, Dresden to Riga, Padova to Dessau the reaction has been the same – absolutely incredible, says show producer Michael Taylor.

“Nothing is lost in translation,” says Michael. “An Evening of Burlesque’s content – sparkling glamour, physical humour and a dynamic score – are appreciated in any language.”
An Evening of Burlesque features corsets, killer heels and stockings aplenty – and that’s just the theatregoers who come to see the show!

“For a spectacle that sparkles from its elaborately-decorated headdresses to its immaculately varnished toes,” says Michael, “it might not come as a complete surprise that audiences are predominantly female. Also, we’re pleased to report that, with a prize for the best-dressed member of the audience, theatregoers revel in dressing up for the occasion.”
The show itself sparkles with couture costumes recalling the golden eras of burlesque. An Evening of Burlesque claims to be the most glamorous show on tour.

For over-18s only, it boasts that its success is built on a combination of sultry vocals, breathtaking choreography, mischief, magic, frivolity and fun.

“It’s all tease, no sleaze,” says Michael. “The show combines musical and theatrical parody, cutting-edge variety, magic, comedy and dance with the art of striptease.”

Michael says he is proud to be bringing variety back to the theatre, claiming An Evening of Burlesque is the slickest, wickedly wittiest, most delightfully choreographed cabaret spectacular of the year.

“Dress up and come to the cabaret,” he says.

DRESS TO IMPRESS – PRIZE FOR THE MOST GLAMOROUS MEMBER OF THE AUDIENCE

Sparkling with couture costumes, featuring killer heels and stockings aplenty. . . no, we’re not talking about the burlesque all-star performers appearing in Britain’s hottest new theatre show sensation An Evening of Burlesque.

That’s a description of audiences for the glamorous production. Its combination of song, dance, mischief, magic, music, frivolity and fun has proved an unqualified hit with the ladies.

“Throughout the UK,” says show producer Michael Taylor, “at every venue, the fairer sex make up the majority of our audiences. “And the ladies just love dressing for the occasion.”

So much so, the production now offers a “burlesque-tastic” surprise prize for the best-dressed member of the audience on the night. The prize will be awarded by the show’s production manager, their decision being final.

“The show is an opportunity,” says Mike, “to forget about all your troubles for an evening and enjoy the thrills and spills of modern-day burlesque.

“Theatregoers completely immerse themselves in the evening’s entertainment.”
Michael says, as performers look out from the stage the auditorium is aglitter with the most dazzling outfits.

“As a consequence, the atmosphere at theatres is absolutely electric,” he says.

“We would like to reward the most glamorously-dressed person with a prize they’ll treasure forever.”

ENTERTAINERS, 200 LONDON ROAD, HADLEIGH, BENFLEET, ESSEX, SS7 2PD
Tel: 01702 427100 switchboard, 01702 427102 direct easytheatres.com

Hazelwood_School_Year_7_PS084 The inventive and award winning Learning Team at The Historic Dockyard Chatham has created two new Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities for Key Stage 3 and 4 pupils – “Missile Mission” and “Depth Charge Destroyers” – thanks to the generous sponsorship of BAE Systems, Electronic Systems, Rochester.

Pupils from Hazelwood School on the Kent / Surrey border were the first to trial one of the two innovative sessions, “Depth Charge Destroyers”. Inspired by The Historic Dockyard’s Second World Destroyer, HMS Cavalier, teams of students competed to construct and test a model destroyer complete with propulsion systems. They then devised a simple release mechanism to deliver a depth charge and the team whose ship survived the challenge of the tow tank wind and wave machine and hit the target won!

Michael Tierney, BAE Systems, Electronic Systems, Rochester Site Executive Lead, commented, “We are proud to be supporting these STEM programmes for children within the Kent and Medway area. It is wonderful to see children experiencing and solving STEM-related problems as well as exploring the possibility of careers in these fields.”

Rebecca Brough, Learning Manager at The Historic Dockyard Chatham said; “We are always looking for new and pioneering ways to engage the thousands of students who visit us here every year and take part in our education programmes. Our partnership with BAE Systems has enabled us to develop these extended 90 minute sessions, offering even better value for money to schools. The sessions are designed to develop pupils’ teamwork and communication skills while extending their technical knowledge of STEM subjects.”

Medway will be part of history in the making today when the Mayor of Medway raises a Commonwealth flag over Gun Wharf.

Mayor Josie Iles is set to fly the flag along with 500 other local authorities, community groups and charities throughout the British Isles to mark Commonwealth Day.

Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth is the first event of its kind and has caught the imagination of thousands of participants, enabling communities to join others nationwide in linking themselves with widespread public expression of commitment to the Commonwealth.

A specially written Commonwealth affirmation will be read out at each ceremony before the raising of the Commonwealth flag at 10am.

In Medway, the council’s Chief Executive Neil Davies will read the affirmation followed by Leader Rodney Chambers who will read a message from the Queen.

Mayor of Medway Josie Iles will then raise the flag over the council building. A second Commonwealth flag will be raised at Rochester Castle.

Charity teams will mark the day by taking Commonwealth flags to the top of the UK’s four highest national peaks and use the occasion to raise funds for their worthy causes: Cancer Research UK – Scafell Pike, England; Help for Heroes – Ben Nevis, Scotland; Walking with the Wounded – Mount Snowdon, Wales; and Fields of Life – Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland.

Mayor of Medway Josie Iles said: “I feel privileged to be raising the Commonwealth flag at the ceremony on Monday along with hundreds of others around the UK, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This mass flag-raising event is a wonderful way to mark Commonwealth Day.”

Wnner Wnner

Winner Winner

(From August 2013) Slimmers Niamh O’Neill-Munro and Hayley Russell have lots of reasons to celebrate after losing over 3 stone between them.

As well as looking great and feeling fitter, Niamh 18 and Hayley 17 have been named Young Slimmers of the Year 2013 at the Hoo St Werburgh Slimming World group in Hoo. Now their win could see them reach the national finals of the competition, where they will be in with the chance of winning £2,000.

The competition celebrates Slimming World’s bright young things, recognising 16-21 year olds who’ve transformed their lives by adopting healthier eating habits and getting active. Obesity is a huge problem for the younger generation and research shows that overweight teenagers are likely to continue to struggle with their weight as adults and develop weight-related conditions including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol*. So Niamh and Hayley’s weight loss and healthy lifestyle isn’t just great for their health now but for their future wellbeing too.

Life was very different for Niamh and Hayley just a few months ago. They were unhappy with their size, their self-confidence had taken a knock and sometimes they felt like the odd one out with their friends. But Niamh and Hayley joined their local Slimming World group at the Jubilee Hall in Hoo, which is run by Ash O’Neill, and began their transformation.

Hayley says: “I started going to group with my Mum 8 weeks ago and I was really nervous the first time I went, I felt a bit embarrassed and I thought everyone would judge me for being overweight at such a young age. But I couldn’t have been more wrong, everyone was really friendly and kind. I settled in quickly and I’ve made lots of friends – of all ages. I love going to group and seeing everyone each week now and I’m nearly a stone lighter too!”

Niamh and Hayley began following Slimming World’s Food Optimising healthy eating plan, which encourages slimmers to fill up on healthy foods and make small changes to the way they shop, cook and eat that make a big difference to their waistline, like swapping white bread for wholemeal or fast food burgers for homemade. They say: “The eating plan was completely different from what we’d expected. We thought losing weight meant not eating very much or cutting out your favourite foods. Talking to other members in group and sharing ideas, we’ve learned a lot about food and can cook lots of recipes ourselves now. Being hungry isn’t a worry and we can still enjoy favourite meals like burger and chips or Sunday roast, just cooked more healthily.”

Niamh who starts university in September has blossomed since dropping from 12 stone 5lb to 10 stone and she no longer feels like ‘the odd one out’. She says: “I love being able to wear the same clothes as my friends having dropped from a size 16 to a size 10 and enjoy going out with them more now I’ve lost weight. I’ve got so much more energy, I walk everywhere and am looking forward to doing lots of swimming on holidays this summer. I used to feel self-conscious about doing anything physical like that in public but I don’t anymore – I’m too busy having fun!”

Ash O’Neill who runs the group, says: “Everyone in the Hoo St Werburgh group is so proud of Niamh and Hayley. They’re a huge inspiration. They’ve learned healthy habits that will stay with them for life so worrying about their weight is definitely a thing of the past. Obesity in young people is such a huge problem and it affects how they feel about themselves as well as their physical health. Now Niamh and Hayley have the skills to make healthier choices and are much more confident too. I hope they’ll inspire other young people in the area by showing them that there’s no better time to take control of their weight than right now.”

Everyone from the age of 11 upwards is welcome at the Hoo St Werburgh Slimming World group at the Jubilee Hall, Pottery Rd every Thursday at 5.30pm and 7.30pm and young people aged 11-15 can attend for free when they’re accompanied by a parent or guardian and have the approval of their GP. It’s a great way for the whole family to feel healthier. For more information visit www.slimmingworld.com or call Ash O’Neill on 01634 250170 07733 264751.

medway growsFamilies are being encouraged to take up the good life and take part in free workshops to learn how to grow their own food.

Medway Grows workshops are being run across the area from March to July and will be a fun way for all the family to learn something new – and cut down on household bills by growing their own grub.

Medway Grows is about healthy fresh produce , digging, planting, weeding, watering, landscaping and much more.

The workshops will encourage people of all ages to learn about a wide variety of projects from growing your own food, how to start planting and how best to get going at home.
And there’ll be lots of games and activities for children while mum and dad pick up top tips on how to grow the greens.

Councillor David Brake, Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, said; “These free workshops are a great way to get all the family involved in planting and growing.

“Not only will they teach the basics and give everyone a good idea of how to grow, but also they’ll encourage families to get healthy and, hopefully, save money by growing their own produce.”

Workshops will take place across Medway, at weekends and after school and booking is essential.

The first workshop dates include March 15 and May 28, Medway Park; March 20, Luton Library, Chatham, April 5, Bishop of Rochester Academy; April 8 and May 28, Burnt Oak Primary, Gillingham.

To find out more information visit http://www.abettermedway.co.uk/healthyeating/medwaygrows.aspx” target=”_blank”>our website or call 016344 334309 to book your place.

Volunteers are set to play an important role in delivering community support in Medway.

As part of a new scheme, money is to be invested in community organisations and trained volunteers are to provide enhanced support to older people and adults with disabilities.
Medway is one of seven councils in England involved in the programme set up by community interest company, Developing Empowering Resources in Communities, also known as DERiC.

Social investment bank, Big Society Capital, has loaned DERiC £1million to invest in community organisations, set up to support people who receive personal care budgets.
Personal care budgets are given to eligible people by local authorities and the NHS to enable them to have choice and control over the support they receive.

This can include anything from personal care, support with daily living, or needs arising from illness, disability, old age or poverty.

There are now four DERiC schemes in Leeds, one in Sandwell, Birmingham, one in Belfast, and one in Medway.

Together these programmes cover 3,000 people who are eligible to receive support.
The schemes draw in community supporters – local, trained volunteers who will provide appropriate support to people receiving personal budgets, enhancing their care and support arrangements.

The pilots in Leeds and Belfast showed a 25 per cent increase in personal contact for older people and vulnerable adults which is an important element of how we as a society address social isolation and loneliness.

Many councils applied to be part of the scheme and Medway Council will be running the programme in conjunction with Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CGG).

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Services Cllr David Brake said: “We are delighted to have been selected to be part of DERiC. The organisers particularly liked that we have the CCG as close partners and also recognised the council’s strong links with volunteers.

“The scheme is set to increase the level of care offered to the people of Medway, and for it to be available to them at less cost.”

Dr Peter Green, Chief Clinical Officer for the CCG said: “We are delighted that Medway has been chosen as one of the first areas in the country to make much greater use of volunteers to enhance the care and support for those people who have a personal care budget, and we are looking forward to working with Medway Council to drive this forward.”

The initiative aims to provide support for at least 60 per cent of those eligible for support over the next three years.

In addition to those people, a further 1,500 who are not eligible for statutory support, but who are identified as needing support, will be helped by the scheme.

Residents in Medway will still have the cheapest council tax in Kent after councillors approved a budget for 2014/2015.

Councillors last night voted for a 1.99 per cent increase in council tax to combat an unprecedented cut in funding to the council from the government that will see the authority get just £52million this year – a huge 9.6 per cent less than last year.

Despite this, Medway Council has managed to protect frontline services from cuts in the budget for the forthcoming year. We are also freezing increases on car parking charges until 2017 and will provide £200,000 to improve play areas.

Council tax funds more than 140 services for almost 270,000 residents in Medway. These include important services such as weekly bin and recycling collections, adult social care, educational provision and children’s social services, as well as looking after Medway’s roads and parks.

The increase in this year’s council tax equates to a £22.77 increase per year for an average Band D property – the equivalent of 44p a week.

Medway currently has the seventh lowest council tax of all mainland unitary authorities and is, on average, over £100 below the average combined council tax for Kent County Council and Kent district councils.

Funding in the budget will include:

• £2million for highways improvements
• An extra to £450,000 to fix potholes caused by the adverse weather
• Doubling of free Christmas parking for five years
• £200,000 for improvements to children’s play areas
• £30,000 to fund apprenticeships on the Medway Queen
• £100,000 to fight plans for the Thames Estuary airport – a campaign that has all-party support
• An extension on freeze to car parking increases until 2017

Unlike many other authorities, our 16 libraries and 19 children’s centres will face no threat of closure – as the council is committed to keeping these important local resources open.

In fact, the council has also recently provided new community hub style libraries – which also provide a one-stop facility for information on and booking of other council services – for Gillingham, Rochester and Chatham. Strood and Twydall will see new community hubs open in 2015.

Medway Council has only increased its council tax twice in the past four years, and has done this only to secure a balanced budget.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “This has been an extremely tough budget for us against a backdrop of cuts and almost impossible deadlines imposed on us to produce it.

“The small council tax rise is unavoidable if we are to maintain our vital services. “But there are a number of very positive announcements in this budget and we are proud to have avoided cuts to our frontline services.

“While every authority has been hit by Government funding reductions, Medway has been particularly hard hit and we expect that by 2015/16, we will have seen our funding from central government cut by 48 per cent over five years.”

The councils total budget for 2014/15 will be £331 million compared to £348.5 million the year before.

All residents will receive notification in the mail over the next few weeks detailing their council tax and the new charge will start in April.

gunwharfNearly 96 per cent of primary aged children in Medway have been offered one of their preference places at secondary school, new figures show.

Families across Medway will start receiving news of the school their child has been offered for September 2014 on Monday, 3 March, which is National Offer Day.

Parents who applied online and provided an e-mail address will also receive the offer by email after 4pm on the same day.

Of the 2,984 Medway children offered places, nearly 82 per cent have been offered their first preference place, more than 10 per cent have been awarded their second place preference and nearly 3 per cent their third preference.

The school admissions process for Medway is a huge task and involves the council’s Student Services (Admissions) Team processing secondary school applications for 3,421 children in total including 437 out of area children this year.

More than 86 per cent of families used the council’s online application process to submit their preferences.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Cllr Mike O’Brien, said: “Finding out which secondary school your child has been allocated is always a major event for families.

“I am happy that a vast majority of children have been offered one of their preference places.

“I’d like to wish all the children the very best for their future studies and hope they go on to achieve great things during their time at secondary school.”

Barbara Peacock, the Director of Children and Adult Services, added: “I’m pleased that lots of children have gained places at one of their chosen schools.

“In Medway there is a great selection of secondary schools and I wish all children the very best for their years of education ahead of them.”

potholefrind Medway Council filled nearly 4,000 potholes in the space of just 10 months, new figures show.

The council dealt with 3,904 holes in the road from April 2013 to January 2014 – that’s an incredible 90 a week.

Last week, councillors voted for an extra £450,000 to be spent on potholes over the next 12 months.

More defects have been reported to us in the last couple of years as frost in 2012 and rain in 2013 took its toll on our roads.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, Cllr Phil Filmer, said: “When weather conditions become more adverse, this causes unavoidable problems on our roads.

“We know potholes are the scourge of motorists and that is why we are putting more money into fixing them.

“The council has a very good track record of dealing and fixing potholes and we intend to maintain this in order to keep Medway moving.”

All roads, designated highway, within Medway are on a continuous rolling program of safety inspections that are 100 per cent up-to-date.

All enquiries received from members of the public about possible defects on the highway are investigated within 10 working days, and normally much quicker.

And an appropriate priority is given – such as ‘emergency’ – if a defect is considered an immediate hazard.

Highway inspectors can do instant repairs using a product called Viafix if they find roads in a dangerous condition.

This means they can make an area safe within two hours, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Our Customer Contact team received more than 1,100 calls from residents reporting damage to roads and footpaths looked after by Medway Council last year.

Apart from holes in the road, Highway Inspectors are constantly looking for damage to nameplates, signs, fixtures and fittings on the street, and railings. They all have to be maintained.

For the first time, in 2013, Highway Inspectors did a survey for every road and footway they looked at, giving them a red, amber or green rating.

This is now being adopted for annual inspections across the whole highway network and assists the Maintenance Team in compiling their list of roads for larger schemes.

By the end of the year, Highway Inspectors will have walked about 5,000 miles to carry out their safety inspections.

Residents can report potholes online via the lovemedway.co.uk website or by contacting Customer First on 01634 333333, texting 07739 657073 or email customer.first@medway.gov.uk

carerweb1

Young carers could be given a new lease of life with technology to put their minds at ease.

Many teenagers have dreams of going to university, however those who look after a loved one often feel that such ambitions are out reach.

Medway Council’s Telecare Service can take some of the worry out of leaving a person in need alone, and allows people to live independently.

An event held on Monday, 17 February gave some young carers living in Medway had a chance to see how the service could potential change their lives.

Young carers together with councillors and representatives from charity Carers First, took a look at the technology available such as sensors to detect falls, whether someone is in bed, whether someone has taken their medication and much more.

Every sensor is programmed to a small Telecare base unit that is linked to a telephone line, which is installed by in-house engineers.

In the event of activation, a trained operator from Medway Control Centre will talk to the client over the Telecare base unit in their home to assess the situation and put the most appropriate response in place, whether that be contacting a family member, neighbour, doctor, mobile warden or emergency services.

Rhiannon Johnson, 15 has been a carer for five years now, and was impressed with the technology.

She said: “This would really benefit me because I could be in my room or be with my friends leading a normal teenage life, and if mum had a fall I would be notified and I wouldn’t be worrying the whole time I was out.”

When an alert is sent to the control centre via sensors in the home, the individual’s primary carer is informed by the Telecare team.

16-year-old Charlotte Liddle has dreams of going to university but is unsure about leaving her mum.

She said: “This technology could help me feel more at ease going to university, knowing that there is a support system in place when I’m not there would be really helpful.

“Before I thought it would be really hard for me to go away and study, but now it seems as though it is possible and my mum will still be supported.”

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Services Cllr David Brake said: “These facilities are most useful and designed to help those in need of support. If young carers know their family members are being looked after and supported it enables them to have more time for themselves doing the things that lots of young people do and take as a matter of course.”

For more information about Telecare visit www.medway.gov.uk/telecare

Disabled residents in Medway are being encouraged to join a new forum and have their say in council decisions affecting the disabled community.

Carers and people with disabilities have the opportunity to join the Medway Disabled Residents’ Forum on Thursday, 6 March at the Pentagon Centre in Chatham from 10.30am.

The group is set to encourage the disabled population to speak out on issues that affect quality of life, access and welfare of disabled residents.

The concept of the forum was agreed unanimously at Full Council at the end of 2012, and has received cross-party support with Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Service Cllr David Brake, the Leader of the council’s Labour Group, Cllr Vince Maple and Cllr Geoff Juby, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group all backing the idea.

Chairman of the Medway Residents’ Forum Ryan Gallagher said: “Disabled people in Medway really need a way of speaking out about issues that have an impact on them. This forum will do just that, but we need lots of people to get on board if we are going to have an impact.

I would encourage anyone affected by disability to join us at the Pentagon Centre on Thursday.”

The event will run from 10.30am to 2.30pm and will be an opportunity to find out more about the forum.

There will also be a chance to find out about some of the services available to disabled people in Medway.

pancakes article On Tuesday 4 March the second Annual Pancake Races will be held on New Road, Gravesend. Local businesses will be racing against each other whilst flipping their pancakes. Races start at 12.15pm.

Last year’s winner was Lizzie from the Kent messenger. A council spokesperson said: “Last year was flipping crazy, there was a great buzz in the town with shrieks of laughter as the businesses raced against each other. We are looking forward to crowning a new champion this year.”

smokefree drop inSmokers keen to kick the habit will have an added incentive if they make the change in March.

National No Smoking Day is on 12 March and Medway residents who quit with the council’s stop smoking service during this month will be in with a chance of winning prizes donated by local businesses.

Every year more than a million smokers use No Smoking Day as their motivation to quit and it is hoped people in Medway are no exception.

Anyone who signs up to the scheme in March and reaches week five of the seven week treatment programme, will get a free day pass to a local gym.

Those who go on to quit as a result, will be in with a chance of winning a prize.

Prizes range from cinema tickets, to hair cuts, lunches for two and a signed Gillingham FC football.

To pledge to quit visit the stop smoking team in Chatham High Street on 1 or 12 March, or call 01634 334800.

Those who successfully shake the habit with the help of weekly support sessions and carbon monoxide monitoring, will be entered into a prize draw and invited to a prize giving even at Gillingham Football Club on 8 May.

Director of Public Health Alison Barnett said: “Many people like to use the national no smoking awareness day as a starting point for their journey to become smoke free.

“I think it is really good that there is now the added incentive of winning a prize for those who achieve their goal. We want to help people who want to quit as much as we can and this makes it a bit of fun and gives people a small reward.

“I would like to thank all the local businesses that have donated prizes.”

For more information about the stop smoking service visit www.abettermedway.co.uk

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