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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.”

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The Corps of the Royal Engineers will exercise their right to parade through historic Rochester this month to remember sappers who have lost their lives in conflicts around the world.

The short march, which follows a service at Rochester Cathedral, starts just after 12.30pm on Sunday, 15 September at the Guildhall end of the High Street. The parade will pass the war memorial before continuing on to Blue Boar Lane. The parade has become an annual tradition with the Corps of the Royal Engineers using the right to march through the High Street bestowed on them after being granted honorary freedom of the borough.

For more on events taking place in Medway this autumn visit http://www.enjoymedway.co.uk

RichardIII-blogpostTwo Medway pupils will be treading the boards this summer with a professional theatre company. Kent-based Changeling Theatre Company open-air tour of Richard III comes to Rochester Castle on 10 July and Upnor on 31 July and 1 August.

Ashley Stevens and Jacob Clarke are playing the princes in the tower at the Rochester and Upnor performances after successfully auditioning earlier this year. Ashley, who turns 16 next month, lives in Lordswood and has just completed his GCSEs, including drama. He is looking forward to performing in Medway with all the cast. He said: “I’m not sure acting is something I want to pursue because at the moment I need to concentrate on my A’ Levels studies – including drama. I’m really grateful to Changeling Theatre Company for giving me this opportunity. More

upnorcastleWPVisitors to Upnor Castle can relive the infamous Dutch Raid thanks to an exciting living history event on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 June.
The Dutch are Coming! is a family-friendly spectacle depicting the events of the 1667 battle, when the Dutch sailed up the River Medway to attack the British fleet at anchor.

Costumed actors will bring the story to life, regaling tales of the events and tactics that allowed the Dutch to successfully capture HMS Royal Charles and to destroy other ships based at Chatham Dockyard. More

This summer’s Castle Concerts series includes a fabulous 80s Night featuring Tony Hadley, ABC, and Go West on Friday, 19 July.

As lead singer of New Romantic pioneers Spandau Ballet, Tony Hadley has earned the accolade of being one of pop music’s greatest vocalists, fronting countless smash hits including Gold, Only When You Leave, Lifeline and the epic Through The Barricades, as well as his prominent vocal contributions to Band Aid and Live Aid. More

The River Medway is “at the very heart” of the local area’s regeneration, council leader Cllr Rodney Chambers has said.

Cllr Chambers made his comments at the first Medway and Swale Boating Association Spring Conference, an event last Saturday exploring how the river can play a part in securing a buoyant future for Medway. He said Medway Council, and the local businesses that use the river, need to continue to work together to ensure the waterway is used to its full potential. Cllr Chambers added: “Where the river once physically divided us, it now brings our communities together and remains at the very heart of the new Medway that is emerging and of which we can all be proud. More

Arundel Castle - Aerial image webArundel Castle’s expert gardeners, conservationists, maintenance team and managers have been working around the clock to prepare the Castle to open to the public for the 2013 season on Friday 29 March.

One of the largest inhabited and complete castles in England, Arundel Castle is situated in magnificent grounds overlooking the River Arun in West Sussex. Major preparations have been underway during the Castle’s winter hiatus so that it is ready to impress visitors throughout the open season. More

As the first door is opened on the advent calendar this weekend, Rochester’s streets will come alive with all the excitement and bustle of a Victorian Christmas.
Traditional entertainment, song and dance will be on offer at Rochester’s Dickensian Christmas festival from Saturday 1 to Sunday, 2 December, against the backdrop of the town’s unique mix of specialist shops, galleries and cafes. And there’ll be even more reason for festive cheer this year, as Medway’s celebrates the 200th anniversary of the great writer’s birth. More

Upnor Castle from the Medway

Visitors to Upnor Castle will get to relive the Dutch raid as part of an exciting re-enactment event on Saturday 23 and Sunday, 24 June.
The Dutch are Coming! is a family friendly event depicting the brave but ineffective battle in 1667 when the Dutch sailed up the river to attack the British fleet at anchor. More

Dads everywhere can enjoy a day out with a difference this Father’s Day,
Rochester Castle and Upnor Castle are both offering dads free entry with every full paying child on Fathers Day, Sunday 17 June. More

Billy Ocean will headline Soul Party at this year's Castle Concerts

Britain’s biggest black recording star Billy Ocean will headline the Soul Party at this year’s Rochester Castle Concerts, alongside 80s powerhouse singer Alexander O’Neal.

His instant feel good sound has earned him more than 30 million record sales worldwide, and this summer Billy is looking forward to seeing Medway audiences bopping to massive 70s and 80s hits like When the Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going, Caribbean Queen, Love Really Hurts Without You and Suddenly.

“Getting up on stage with my band and entertaining the audience is what I love to do” he said, “So that is what gets me back up each time. I love to see the crowd sing along to songs that I wrote all those years ago – it shows that a good song will last no matter how old it is”. More

Upnor Castle

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting married in one of Kent’s most beautiful castles, there’s a wedding open day at Upnor Castle this Sunday, 25 March.

The wedding room will be dressed for a wedding and staff will be on hand to help couples arrange their big day. There will also be exhibits from a number of wedding specialists and suppliers.

Set against a backdrop of almost 500 years of history, the turreted castle is situated in a picturesque waterfront village and backed by rolling, wooded hills. Built in 1559 to defend the warships of Queen Elizabeth I, the castle offers an exquisite backdrop for wedding photographs.

The event runs from 10am to 3pm an admission is free. For more information about the open day phone 01634 338106.

On 18 March, we celebrate Mothering Sunday – a really joyful tradition and one that aptly occurs when the natural world around us seems to burst into colour.

National Trust properties in Kent offer mums some of the country’s most glorious gardens in which to enjoy stunning displays of spring colour, and a host of relaxing treats to help them while away the day.

Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, Kent TN14 6BA 01732 868381Spring colour: spring bulb displays don’t disappoint at Emmetts Garden in March. This charming 19th-century garden reveals thousands of daffodils and egg-yolk yellow narcissi. Soft pink and cream camellia flowers are also on show, together with jewel-coloured crocuses, whilst Emmett’s many trees provide a delightful acid green canopy of fresh spring foliage. More

Newly reformed pop phenomenon Steps will perform at this year’s Castle Concerts, on Thursday, 19 July. The band who sung their way to success in the 90s became a household name, capturing the hearts of fans all over the world with their dance routines and catchy songs before famously breaking up ten years ago. The announcement of their reunion and 2012 UK tour has seen their Twitter following triple in figures and their Ultimate Collection album to reach Number 1 on the official album chart on the first day of its release, while their four-part Sky Documentary “Steps Reunion” has had the highest viewing figures of any Sky Living show this year. More

Tickets for two of next summer’s Castle Concerts will go on sale at 10am today (Monday, 12 December) giving concert-goers an early opportunity to snap up tickets in time for Christmas. More

Take time out from the hustle and bustle of a packed high street, and indulge in a day of traditional festivities in sumptuously historic surroundings set in stunning winter landscapes. This Christmas, National Trust properties in Kent throw open their gates to reveal festively decorated interiors, craft workshops, warming winter meals, and inspiring winter walks. You may even find yourself stepping back into another century. More

Spend a day in the company of gallant knights, medieval maidens and falcons in flight… Medieval Merriment, a free family event, returns to Rochester Castle Gardens on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 September.

Once again the castle grounds will be transformed into a vast medieval encampment, taking visitors back to the time when the castle was built and used as a residence.

There’ll be living history displays from Anglo-Saxon and Norman times through to the 15th century, battles, archery displays, cookery, minstrels, birds of prey, storytellers, crafts, games and stalls.

The event will be open from 10am to 4pm on both days and admission is free.

Admission prices for the Castle Keep, within the Castle gardens are £5.50 for adults and £3.50 for children and concessions, and £14.50 for a family ticket. For further information phone 01634 338141

The Lightning Seeds have been announced as the support act for Squeeze at the Castle Concerts’ opening gig on Wednesday, 13 July. More

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