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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

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

rochdickensOn Friday 7th February – Charles Dickens’ 202nd birthday – members of the Rochester & Chatham Dickens Fellowship attended the first local evening screening of the film “The Invisible Woman”. The film is currently being shown at the Odeon Cinema in Dickens World Leisure Complex, Chatham. The film is based on the book by Claire Tomalin telling the life story of Ellen (Nelly) Turnan. The controversy from a Dickensian scholar’s point of view is a tantalising question: did Charles Dickens have a platonic relationship with the young actress or a love affair? There is also controversy over his separation from his wife, the mother of his ten children – and indeed whether Ellen Turnan had a child by Charles Dickens (or even more than one!). I am sure that Dickens scholars will continue arguing over this for years to come.

Whatever the truth about Ellen Turnan and Charles Dickens, members enjoyed the film and found it well acted and produced. There is local interest in the film: Chatham and Rochester get a mention and part of the story relates to Gad’s Hill Place in Higham. A lesser-known fact is that Ellen (Nelly) Turnan was born on March 3rd 1839 in Maidstone Road, Rochester and baptised later that month in St Nicholas’ Church.

Snorkellers below the Minack (Rod Allday) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Snorkellers below the Minack (Rod Allday) / CC BY-SA 2.0

Registration has opened for Medway’s newest mass participation event – the Medway Big Splash.

The weekend-long event will showcase watersports, aquatics and water-based activity sessions, all culminating in the main event – a mass community swim challenge.

It takes place at Medway Park and Strood Sports Centres on 18 and 19 January 2014.

The swimming event builds on the success of the annual Medway Mile, which now attracts thousands of people of every age for a one-mile walk or run around Rochester. Read More

If you live within the distribution area of the Peninsula Times printed version, you will doubtless be aware of Anim-Mates charity and the good work that they do. If you have some time to attend one or both of these events you would be providing tremendous help to them. Plus you get to eat CAKE at one of the events and everyone likes cake!

Just to illustrate the kind of people they are. We found a cat hiding under our car at home, clearly injured and clearly in distress. We tried in vain to contact other animal charities for help without success. We called Anim-Mates and hoped, someone answered, not only did they answer but they gave us the address of a vet that could help and even called ahead to say that we were coming and any charge should be referred to them. Unfortunately the poor little cat died as a result of her injuries within a day or so and although it was a short period of time Anim-Mates were there and available to help when bigger and better known charities were not. Please help them if you can by going along to have some fun at these events.

If you can’t quite read the detail click on the image to make it huge!

fun auction 2013

Afternoon Tea 2013

DSC_0176Having successfully won funding of £14m in a joint effort with Veolia Environmental Services, our recycling collections will change to weekly on the 28th October. Almost all of us by now will have received our grey food recycling box which can be kept inside the house and its compostable liner can then be placed in the brown bin or its equivalent.

The increase in frequency should make it easier for most households to make the most of their recycling opportunities for all the items that the council currently process. I for one will be glad to know that Friday is recycle day, full stop, rather than having to peer up and down the road to see what everyone else has put out. Read More

Householders in Gravesham will get a new and easy way to increase recycling as part of a major reorganisation of refuse and recycling collections in the borough next summer. The proposals will be discussed by the council’s Cabinet on 7 October.

Under the preferred scheme food waste will be collected weekly in separate new food caddies along with residual waste in black sacks every week. Once a fortnight recycling will be collected in wheeled bins. This has been proved to increase recycling and reduce residual waste as well as limiting the mess caused by food waste. Read more

ApprenticeshipA number of local businesses looking to recruit new staff will be setting up shop at the Pentagon Centre in Chatham this week for the Medway Jobs and Apprenticeship Fair 2013.

The event, organised by Medway Council and Job Centre Plus, takes place from 10am to 3pm on Thursday, 26 September on the first floor of the shopping mall.

It builds on a highly successful jobs fair held last year attended by more than 1,700 jobseekers resulting in 100 jobs being secured and many others helped to get their career ambitions on track.

A number of local employers from across Medway and the rest of Kent will have stands as well as employment support agencies, offering advice on training and skills to help people back into work or find a new career.

That includes the council backed Employ Medway service, based in High Street. Chatham which offers courses and one-to-one support for people who have been unemployed for some time.

Jobcentre Plus will be on hand to provide information on how both employers and jobseekers can benefit from the Wage Incentive scheme, work trials and work experience. Read More

batsbroomsThings get spooky this Autumn Half Term at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, as visitors explore the eerie and ethereal through a range of exciting activities.

Running from 25 October through to 3 November, visitors can join in the Bats and Broomsticks activities, suitable for all the family. These include a brand new and very informative Bat Trail, the return of Megan the Witch with spell binding stories to enchant and – back by popular demand – families can challenge their creative skills by trying their hand at Pumpkin Carving or take the spooky mini Ghost Tours through the eerie Hearts of Oak gallery in the dark! Read More

28 People that completed a Healthy Weight programme in June 2013, lost a collective 60kg and shaved 97cm of their waists.

The Gr@nd’s Healthy Weight team have been supporting adults with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28 or above on a 12 Week programme .Participants learned about nutrition and tried a variety of exercise taster sessions, which has helped them to make little changes to lead a healthier lifestyle. Read More

ORIGINAL 244a Fiona

For the first time ever at any event, Salute to the ‘40s has three of the leading 1940’s female performers together on one stage. With two Main Stages, two dancehalls, dance workshops, street performers and music across the site the weekend at The Historic Dockyard is going to be full of entertaining vintage delight! Keep Calm and Carry On to Salute to the ‘40s on 21st and 22nd September at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. Read More

pentagonMedway Credit Union has moved into a new home as part of an ongoing campaign to give people on low incomes a safer alternative to pay day loan shops and doorstep lenders.

The low-cost savings and loans co-operative, one of two based in Medway, is now based on the first floor of the Pentagon Centre in Chatham. It had previously been based in a less prominent position further along the High Street. Read More

Medway Council tonight unveils its strategy for delivering a long-term sporting legacy for the people of Medway.

The launch of En Route to Rio: Delivering Medway’s Sporting Legacy 2013-2016 is being staged to coincide with Medway’s largest mass participation sporting event – the Medway Mile.

In addition, two new flagship events inspired by the success of the Medway Mile have also been announced. More

LEADING BEAUTY BRANDS LAUNCH EXCLUSIVE PINK RANGES FOR BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Shop with a conscience and shop pink this October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Beauty favourites, Avon and ghd, have joined forces with leading charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, to launch exclusive pink products which carry a minimum 10% donation to Breakthrough’s life-saving work.

Avon and ghd, along with many more leading retailers, will all be doing their bit to help the nation turn pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. More women than ever before are being diagnosed with breast cancer so it’s crucial that everybody gets involved and helps raise vital funds to stop women dying from the disease.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to saving lives through improving early diagnosis, developing new treatments and preventing all types of breast cancer. With 1,000 women dying from the disease each month in the UK alone, every penny raised is vital in order to help us create a world freed from breast cancer. Do your bit, do it pink.

1. Avon Pro Viva Pink Nail Varnish, RRP £4, 25% donation to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, available from your local Independent Avon Representative or online at avonshop.co.uk
2. ghd pink styler and paddle brush gift set RRP £135, £10 donation to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, available in the finest salons and at http://www.ghdhair.com. ghd has been supporting Breakthrough Breast Cancer for 10 years.

Summer fete poster 2013

Cake bakers of the Peninsula take one step forward, wooden spoons and Kenwood Chefs at the ready. Send us pictures of your cakes and we will put them on our website for the world to see.

RAISE SOME DOUGH AND HELP BEAT BREAST CANCER, BREAKTHROUGH BREAST CANCER LAUNCHES THE VERY FIRST GREAT PINK BAKE OFF

This year leading charity Breakthrough Breast Cancer is recruiting an army of bakers to fire up their ovens, hit the kitchen and give breast cancer a good beating in the first ever Great Pink Bake Off.

More women than ever are being diagnosed with breast cancer so Breakthrough Breast Cancer wants local communities to whip up some support to help fund their life-saving research. More

The WantedThe full line up of acts supporting The Wanted at this year’s Castle Concerts is now complete. Max, Nathan, Tom, Jay and Siva will storm the stage at Rochester’s Castle Gardens with their ferociously infectious tunes, including All Time Low and Glad You Came, plus tracks from their new album Third Strike. Tickets are still available but selling fast for the show, which takes place on Thursday, 18 July. More

Keep children entertained this summer holiday with some creative fun and activities thanks to Medway Council Arts Team.

Heatwave summer activities programme is designed for children aged eight to 16. More

9 task groupMedway Council’s Fair Access to Credit Task Group Report has been highly commended in the Good Scrutiny Awards 2013 run by the Centre for Public Scrutiny. The cross-party group was short-listed in the Innovation category for its work to promote financial literacy and affordable lending. The judges thought this review tackling debt and co-ordinated with the national campaign to end legal loan-sharking was an “excellent example of scrutiny having an impact nationally as well as locally”. More

thames crossing

A5 EOD Amber

©PraxisDesign 2012

©PraxisDesign 2012

Rochester returns to its Victorian glory during the weekend of Friday 31 May to Sunday 2 June, as the annual Dickens Festival lights up the streets with colourful costumed characters, street theatre, music and dancing. Held every year since 1978, the event celebrates Medway’s many associations with the great author, who drew many of his characters and settings for his novels from the years he lived in the area. More

Residents of all ages are being urged to use a new health watchdog to get more involved in how health services are run in Medway. Healthwatch Medway, set up as part of national government NHS reforms, has been set the task of championing the views of local people using the NHS and social care services. A new website – http://www.healthwatchmedway.co.uk – set for launch this summer, will provide residents with more information on the services it provides, how to get in touch and what it is doing to represent their views. More

Here is a little something for this weekend if you have some time. Two venues over the two days, including some great ideas for gifts from crafters from all over the area and a few from beyond.

craft fairs

The brilliant Rude Mechanical Theatre Company will perform their delightful and hilarious new play ‘Harlequin Goes to the Moon’ in Higham this summer, outdoors on The Recreation Ground. Some of you may have seen and enjoyed their performance of ‘The Dressing Book’ back in the winter – and they will be back again. These white faced clown-like travelling players are described in The Guardian as ‘a crucial part of our theatre ecology’ and in The Independent on Sunday as ‘consistently captivating’ and should not be missed. All the actors are experienced full time professional actor / musicians working regularly on television and in theatres around the country and perform in a very physical style combining mime and traditional movements dating back to the Italian Renaissance. More

BROOK PUMPThe Old Brook Pumping Station in Solomons Road, Chatham has been completely refurbished.

The station has undergone extensive structural repairs, after a structural survery reveals subsidence was causing the front porch to lean forward and large cracks to appear in the walls. The survey revealed the combination of inadequate foundations and poor soil was the cause. The front porch has now been underpinned. Work during the six-year project included temporary support for the building, new foundations with reinforced concrete, plus replacement doors and ceiling, new signage, landscaping and decorative mouldings. More

Photo Credit & Copyright Simon Kelsey

Photo Credit & Copyright Simon Kelsey

Where can you build sandcastles, see knights do battle, attend a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and meet St George and his dragon, all in one day?

Thousands of visitors are expected to go along and do just that at this year’s English Festival, which takes place on Saturday 20 April at Riverside Country Park, Gillingham. Held annually on the closest Saturday to St George’s Day, the free family day out celebrates the iconic and ironic traditions of England. More

Kent’s leading wildlife charity is calling upon the horse riding fraternity to support its cross country ride this spring to raise vital funding towards the conservation of local wildlife.

The third Kent Wildlife Trust Charity Ride, supported by Barclays Bank and Lillicos Country Stores, will be held on Sunday 14th April. More

Paul Chowdhry is coming to Gravesend for a Comedy and Curry night on 11 April.

Known for his dry observational humour, Paul Chowdhry beat the likes of Michael McIntyre and Ross Noble to become Funniest Stand Up at the Loaded Lafta 2013 awards earlier this year.

The Comedy and Curry Show at The Woodville is at 8pm on Thursday 11 April. Tickets start from £11 and are available from The Woodville box office on 01474 337774 or http://www.woodville.co.uk

Cycling enthusiasts are encouraged to join The Mayor of Medway on an 18-mile bike ride this month.

Cllr Vaughn Hewett and the A Better Medway health improvement team are taking part in the Active Medway Cycle Groups ride on Sunday, 21 April. The route will go along the wonderful Heron Trail on the Hoo Peninsula – 18 miles of pretty countryside, mainly on cycle paths or low traffic roads. Trained ride leaders will also be on hand to assist cyclists along the route. More

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