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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.”

• 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.

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.

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.

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

Oliver Twist Concert Poster (3)

Oliver Twist Cine Concert

A French school choir will perform two concerts in the Britannia Theatre, Dickens World in Chatham on Tuesday the 4th March. They will accompany a French version of the Frank Lloyd 1922 silent black and white film Oliver Twist, re-mastered by Lobster Films and with English sub titles. The choir is from Nevers near Bourges in central France. Their Choir Master Cyril Lohbrunner wrote the music and his wife the lyrics. The organisers would be particularly delighted for local schools to attend.

Members of the Rochester & Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) will read from Charles Dickens Oliver Twist (in English) before each program. The Dickens Fellowship is one of the sponsors of the concert.

Performances are at 2pm in the afternoon and 7.30pm in the evening and tickets from the theatre in advance or on the door cost £4 per person.

For tickets or more information on events, please use the following contact information:

http://www.britanniatheatrechatham.co.uk

Box Office telephone Number – 0844 858 6656
Bookings/general enquiries: bookings@dickensworld.co.uk
Events Information: events@dickensworld.co.uk

animmates 40s night
A nostalgic Roaring Forties Night is planned for High Halstow in March.

It’s a fundraiser for Anim-Mates, the animal rescue sanctuary in St Mary Hoo

The Roger Luxton Dance Band will be playing the music of the wartime era at High Halstow Village Hall on Saturday 29 March from 7pm.

Tickets at £12 are limited to 100 so there will be plenty of room dance.

40′s outfits are optional, but there will be a prize for the best one.

You are asked to bring your own rations to eat.

chdtbeatlesIt’s Full Steam Ahead to The Historic Dockyard Chatham this Easter, as thousands plan to travel to one of the South East’s biggest and best events – The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport. Visitors to the Festival on Easter Sunday and Monday, 20th and 21st April, are in for a real treat this year as one of the South East’s favourite events gets bigger and better still!

The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport is back this year with an injection of even more music to complement the classic and vintage vehicles across the 80 acre site. Visitors will be treated to a variety of music on two main stages located within a historical setting.

The Victorian Warship HMS GANNET, No. 3 Slip and No. 1 Smithery will encapsulate the Folk and Blues Stage, surrounded by vehicles dating from 1901 to 1930 and Steam Traction Engines, where visitors will be entertained with lively and toe tapping folk and blues music.

Acts performing to the crowds include: Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs an ‘off the rails’ skiffle band, well known on the Glastonbury Festival scene, with their quirky and comedic act playing music with wash boards, soap boxes, banjos and guitars and CoCo and the Butterfields, provide something a little different. A five piece band with a unique fusion of folk, pop and hip hop or ‘Fip Fok’ they are not to be missed! Funke and the Two Tone Baby a talented multi-instrumentalist will entertain with his mechanical alt-blues music; Kentish band The Flowing play alternative and folk songs with a range of instruments; and performances from Larkspur with their mix of lively traditional and modern folk music, will ensure that visitors will not be disappointed.

The River Medway sets the scene for a second stage, backed by the beautiful Commissioner’s House. This Sixties and Rockabilly Stage will be flanked by vehicles from the 1960’s, hot rods, trucks and American vehicles and this area will have an American Diner feel to it where visitors can rock ‘n’ roll the weekend away!

Acts on this stage include: Scarlett Rae and the Cherry Reds who perform a fusion of blues, rockabilly and jazz; Like…The Beatles bringing visitors the most accurate and fun Beatles tribute act in the UK, take a trip down memory lane; making a welcome return Thee Waltons, a playful act with a unique blend of hillbilly rock ‘n’ roll; The Kick-Backs are a six piece rock, funk and soul band with sing-a-long covers; The Scalextrics are a new-wave punk rock band with hits from the ‘60s, ’70s and ‘80s; and performances from Leroy and the Rockets with impressive credits in the music industry, be entertained with a mix of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

With such an impressive festival line up set to come to the Medway Towns, visitors are being encouraged to buy their discounted tickets in advance to avoid the queues, to enjoy their music filled Easter weekend at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. For more information and tickets, go to www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport
chdtbutterfields

Big Ride picThey’re off! Cyclists in Medway have hit the road to Rio – host city for the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

Over the next four months, everyone is being invited to take part in a community challenge to cycle the distance equal to the journey from Medway to Rio – about 7,500 miles.
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Between now and 17 May the Cycle the Road to Rio roadshow will be on tour to help Medway cyclists clock up miles on static bikes mounted on turbo trainers.

The initiative is part of the build up to Medway Sport’s new mass participation cycling event – The Big Ride – which takes place on Saturday, 17 May.

The roadshow was launched at Medway Park at the weekend during the Medway Big Splash. It will be visiting locations across Medway including sports centres, libraries, shopping centres, schools and businesses such as Questor Insurance, sponsors of the Medway Sporting Academy.

Cycle computers will calculate individual people’s mileage, as well as logging the cumulative total across Medway. So you can cycle one mile or a hundred! Everyone taking part will be invited to take part in the mass participation event at the Big Ride, where they will receive a free souvenir t-shirt and the chance to win one of the bikes.

The main Big Ride event at Medway Park in May will feature lots of free cycling activities including a family treasure trail ride organised by the Better Medway team, an interactive mountain bike skills track, karting, Go-Ride races and training, have-a-go arenas and exhibitions. Something for everyone regardless of their ability.

Additional events linked to the Big Ride event will be Sportive rides for more experienced cyclists and a mountain bike competition at Capstone Park country park, both organised by British Cycling.

You can register for the Medway Big Ride mass mile online at www.medway.gov.uk/bigride. You will also find more information online about the Big Ride event and when the Cycle the Road to Rio roadshow will be visiting your neighbourhood.

If your organisation or venue is interested in hosting the Cycle the Road to Rio roadshow, it’s not too late. Call 01634 338255 or email medwaysport@medway.gov.uk.

Cllr Howard Doe, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “Cycling is becoming even more popular following the success of British riders at the Olympics and the Tour de France.
“As part of our sporting legacy, mass participation events like the Road to Rio roadshow and the Big Ride will give Medway cyclists plenty of opportunities to join in with serious riding as well as fun activities.”

Cycle the Road to Rio Roadshow locations are below. Timings 10am-4pm.

DATE VENUE
18-26 January Medway Park Sports Centre, Mill Road, Gillingham
30 January – 1 February Tesco, Cuxton Road, Strood
5– 7 February Medway Council offices, Gun Wharf, Chatham
8-9 February Hundred of Hoo Sports Centre, Main Road, Hoo
10 – 12 February Questor Insurance, Station Road, Rainham
Fri 14 – Mon 17 Strood Sports Centre, Watling Street, Strood
Half term week 17– 21 February Public Health Write and Play activity sessions. Venues to be confirmed.
28 February – 2 March Kings Rochester Sports Centre, Maidstone Road, Rochester
5 March Mini Youth Games Table Tennis, The Howard School, Rainham
6 – 10 March Splashes Leisure Pool, Bloors Lane, Rainham
10- 12 March Mid Kent College Campus, Medway Road, Gillingham
13 – 16 March Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre, Gillingham
16 March Families On Your Marks Day at Medway Park
21 March Deangate Ridge Golf Complex, Dux Court Road, Hoo
27 March Mini Youth Games Netball, Rainham Netball Centre
4 –7 April Diggerland, Medway Valley Leisure Park, Strood
10 – 12 April Rainham Library, Birling Avenue
17 – 19 April Community Hub, High Street, Gillingham
24 – 26 April Community Hub, Dock Road, Chatham
1 – 3 May Community Hub, Eastgate, High Street, Rochester
17 May Medway Big Ride, Medway Park, Gillingham
24 May British Cycling Mountain Biking Competition, Capstone Park

commonwealthFor the first time ever, local authorities and civic dignitaries, community groups and charities throughout the British Isles are taking part in local flag raising events and ceremonies of dedication to mark Commonwealth Day.

This new, unique initiative, which has caught the imagination of thousands of participants, enables people in their local communities to become involved and join with others nationwide in associating themselves with widespread public expression of commitment to the Commonwealth, appreciation of the values it stands for, and the opportunities offered to its citizens around the world.

A specially written Commonwealth Affirmation will be read out at each ceremony before the raising of the Commonwealth flag at 10am on Monday 10th March 2014, led by either the Lord Lieutenant, Member of Parliament, Lord Mayor, Lord Provost, Mayor, Leader, Chairman, or nominated representative of each participating local authority or administration.

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.

Commonwealth Flags will also be flown at many locations of special significance including the four capital cities of the United Kingdom, Land’s End in Cornwall, the most westerly point in England; St. David’s in Pembrokeshire: the westernmost city in Wales; Carlisle in Cumbria: the northernmost city in England; Lowestoft in Suffolk: the easternmost town in England; and Unst in the Shetland Islands, the most northerly inhabited island in Scotland. Flags will also be raised at the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, and at the Halley VI Research Station on the Brunt Ice Shelf, as well as King Edward Point and Bird Island in South Georgia.

“This will be the largest, single, raising of the Commonwealth Flag in the history of the Commonwealth”, said Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR, Pageantmaster and originator of Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth. “The success of this year’s event bodes well for 2015 and the future”, said Peek, “as we extend the invitation to participate and involve all 53 countries of the Commonwealth and UK overseas territories, to make this the largest-ever annual occasion involving local communities throughout the worldwide Commonwealth family”.

I am also delighted that the Virdee Foundation, a well respected, world-wide charitable Foundation has accepted my invitation to join this project for the lifetime of the event, especially as I have always been convinced that this annual occasion will grow in size and stature over the next few years, providing a unique fund-raising opportunity for Commonwealth causes such as those outlined within the Virdee Foundations Memorandum and Articles of Association – the protection of women and children from abuse and the relief of abused women and children, a worthy cause close to my heart too.”

“The Virdee Foundation is delighted to be a part of this initiative, working closely alongside Bruno, to enable us through the ‘good will’ of those taking part, to assist us in donating charitable funds raised by those taking part, to the important cause outlined above, said Peter Virdee, Chairman of the Virdee Foundation.”

His Excellency Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth said: “Fly a Flag for the Commonwealth is a most imaginative way for people in local communities – wherever they live, learn or work – to join together with others throughout the Commonwealth in a spirit of respect and understanding to celebrate the variety and unmatched diversity of our global family. I welcome and commend it.” “All our citizens, particularly the young, can express appreciation for the Commonwealth and the values for which it stands as set out in the Commonwealth Charter, and the rich opportunities it offers for mutual support towards more inclusive social and more equitable economic progress.”

Esri UK Interactive Map: “We are exceptionally proud to support the ‘Fly a Flag’ for Commonwealth initiative and, to help raise awareness of the day, we have built an interactive map <a href="http://www.esriuk.com/flyaflagmap&quot;
target=”_blank”>www.esriuk.com/flyaflagmap that shows where the individual flag raising events are taking place, throughout the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man,” explained Dr Richard Waite, Managing Director of Esri UK. We strongly encourage all local authorities and others taking part to post the map on their website, so local citizens and the media can easily find details of their local event and become involved in what will be a most special day.”

cyclogocolour2Youngsters with dreams of tearing up the track represented Great Britain at one of the largest motorcross beach races in Europe.

Young bike enthusiasts from Medway competed in the Endurole du Touquest in France on 8 and 9 February – their first ever endurance race lasting a gruelling one and a half hours.

Riders Patrick O’Neil, 16, from Strood and Jordan Chapman, 15, from Chattenden came in 37th and 93rd place out of 150 riders.

The talented teens were supported by a trio of mechanics, Jack Staples, 18, from Chatham and Stuart Galloway, 18 and Charlie Knight, 16, from Gillingham, who managed the pit stop and kept the bikes in top condition.

The boys were able to take part in such a prestigious race as part of Cyber Youth Connect (CYC) Youth Project, lead by Medway Council and funded by Interreg.

The project works in conjunction with partners in France promoting English and French unity, and gives young people oppotunities to develop their skills and talents.

Not only did the youngsters have a great time on their racing trip, it also provided them with a platform to put their newly learnt skills from the CYC programme into practice.

Patrick said: “I’ve learnt different techniques, the way to move around the bike in the sand and how to perform and different ways to ride the bike. Because there are no sand tracks over here that’s why everyone goes to Dunkirk – it’s so hard and different out there.

“Without CYC I would have never had the opportunity to do this so I am so grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.”

Jordan never thought he would have an opportunity to take part in such an event. He said: “Motor cross is something that I really enjoy doing, it’s been in my head ever since my dad bought me my first bike with I was two and a half.

“I have really enjoyed this experience and to get the chance to represent Medway in this race is something I could never have dreamt of.”

Since being selected for the race in August last year, the team prepared for the big event with Dover based motocross project MXCP, riding 125cc Suzuki bikes.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services Cllr Mike O’Brien said: “It is wonderful that teenagers from Medway were able to take part in a big competition like this abroad, alongside other young people engaged in similar programmes to CYC.

“The CYC Youth Project can offer up some great opportunities to our young people.”

Youngsters who would like to get involved with the CYC project can still do so as a variety of courses will be running until March 2015.

CYC gives 11 to 19-year-olds an opportunity to gain skills and experience in music, cookery, motorbike mechanics and safe riding, as well as media including filming and photography.

To find out more and sign up visit www.medway.gov.uk/cyc or call 01634 332286

Blood transfusionDoctors and paramedics at Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance have performed nearly 70 emergency blood transfusions since the service was first launched a year ago today (February 4th).

Figures show that during the last 12 months the advanced medical procedure – usually performed after a patient arrives at hospital – was carried out 69 times at the scene of an accident or medical emergency.

The charity’s research shows that a total of 160 units of blood were administered to patients who had life-threatening injuries with 20-29 year-olds being the largest group of recipients.

Air Ambulance Clinical Manager Gary Wareham, who pioneered the launch of the blood transfusion service, said: “The project has gone very much as we expected and we are now seeing patients delivered to hospital who may not have survived the journey before.

“We are now considering using other blood products that may further improve patient outcomes.”

The figures also show that August was the peak period for blood transfusions, the youngest patient being aged under 10 and the oldest over 90.

In one case, a patient suffered chest, pelvis and spinal injuries following a collision with a car. His airway was partially obstructed and he was agitated.

The doctor and paramedic anaesthetised him at the road-side and performed emergency chest surgery to reinflate his collapsed lungs.
They then administered four units of blood at scene and en route to the Royal London Hospital major trauma centre.

Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance last year became one of the first in the country to start carrying blood.

Every day, bikers at the Service by Emergency Rider Volunteers (SERV) deliver eight fresh units to each of the helicopter bases from the William Harvey Hospital at Ashford and East Surrey Hospital at Redhill.

SERV secretary Mel Johnson said: “The air ambulance has been a pleasure to work with over the last year. The daily replenishment and emergency re-supply services provided by the SERV groups in Kent and Surrey have helped ensure that both helicopters are always fully stocked and ready to respond.

“We are proud to have played our part using equipment funded by The Henry Surtees Foundation to ensure that the people of the three counties have been able to receive the highest standards of critical care available, provided by a triumvirate of charities working together with a common goal.”

The Henry Surtees Foundation also supplied cars for the blood runs in addition to equipment used to store blood at the correct temperature and warm it to give to patients.

John Surtees, OBE, founder of the Foundation, said: “I spent a lifetime in motorsport where every second counts. The same factor plays a vital part in saving life and injury.

“The Henry Surtees Foundation was very happy to work with all the team at the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance in assisting with the introduction of the blood transfusion service.”

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

The Friends of Chernobyl’s Children is a local branch of a charity that helps children from Belarus by giving them a recuperative holiday which allows respite from the poverty and difficult conditions they face at home for a month each year. The charity is based in Cliffe with host families in Cliffe, Cliffe Woods, Allhallows, High Halstow, Medway Towns and Higham. (More information can be found at

 Thyroid patients receive medicine at the Radiation Medicine clinic near Minsk Thyroid patients receive medicine at the Radiation Medicine clinic near Minsk

cc.org.uk” target=”_blank”>http://www.focc.org.uk)

This is provided through family placements and the charity meets the full cost of these visits which include optical, dental and health checks as well as lots of tender loving care. It is anticipated that up to twelve children will be able to take up the opportunity this year in Medway. While they are here they undertake a range of activities and visits that they would be unable to do at home.

By extensive fundraising FOCC (Medway) meets the full costs of all the visits. The charity is self-funding and everyone involved gives their time and talents freely – ensuring that all money raised is utilised for the children.

In order to continue with our work we constantly need to raise money. Until now, the cost of the children’s visas for their trips to the UK has been funded by the British Government but last year the funding was withdrawn. The air fares for the children are rising each year and it costs hundreds of pounds to bring each child to the UK.

While appreciating that we are living in austere times, any donation no matter how small will make a huge difference to these children.

We are also looking for an additional Trustee for our Executive committee, if you feel that you could help in this capacity please get in touch. If you would like to find out more or be involved as a helper, fundraiser or host family please contact Di Fitter.
Group Coordinator: Diane Fitter – Tel. 01634 222875 E-mail: dianefitter@btinternet.com

ann barnesHave you been a victim of crime? Are you able to spare a small amount of time to take part in a focus group or telephone survey?

Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, is looking for volunteers to share their experiences as a victim of crime to help shape support for victims in the future.

If you are a resident of Kent, then the Commissioner is asking for victims of burglary, vehicle crime, theft, and criminal damage in the last year to come forward.

It is not anticipated you will be asked to give up more than two hours of your time, and expenses will be paid. The focus groups/surveys will not at this time be suitable for victims of crime such as assault, rape or abuse or any incident involving violence.

Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘Funding for victims will be transferred later in the year from the Ministry of Justice to Police and Crime Commissioners and I will not waste a penny of it – I am determined that victims will have the support and help they need. One of my main manifesto promises was to improve services for victims and to put them at the heart of the Criminal Justice System. I remain committed to doing exactly that. I urge victims to come forward as their experiences and views will help identify priority areas for funding. The outcomes of these focus groups will also inform my future victim-based projects, including a ‘Track My Crime’ initiative to help keep victims updated on their investigation, as well as a Victims’ Centre which I will open in the county next year.’

If you could spare a couple of hours to take part in a focus group or a phone interview, then please contact the Office of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner on 01622 677055 or via contactyourpcc@pcc.kent.pnn.police.uk to register your willingness to participate, with a short description of the crime you recently experienced, your age and your gender. Please also provide a contact telephone number.

The deadline for expressions of interest is Friday 21st February 2014.

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.

Work has started on upgrading a Medway park which has attracted £60,000 from a green projects fund.
broomhill view2
This follows a successful Medway Council bid for SITA Trust funding to enable the £150,000 project to begin at Broomhill Park, Strood.

A complete refurbishment of the infant play area will take place and a new sports wall will provide an opportunity for children to play sport and active group games.

Full resurfacing of 1km of paths and the car park also forms part of the project.
A human sun dial has been designed jointly with the Friends of Broomhill and will replace one painted on the site’s old gun emplacement five years ago.

The play area will have a natural theme with images of leaves embossed in the playground surfacing. Equipment will include swings, a climbing frame and a see-saw.
Installing the play area as well as resurfacing paths and the car park will take up to six weeks and the site car park will be closed during that time.
Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “This is an exciting scheme which will provide young children with a lovely place to play in a natural setting.
“It’s part of a long-term vision developed by our greenspaces team with the local community. We are very grateful for the significant contribution from SITA that has allowed this project to go ahead.”
Jools Granville of SITA Trust said: “We are pleased to provide this much- needed funding to such a good project. We’re very impressed with the amount of community buy in and look forward to seeing members of the public enjoying these new facilities.”

TO COMMEMORATE THIS YEAR’S WW1 CENTENARY PENSHURST PLACE AND GARDENS IS KICKING OFF A ‘SIR AND SOLDIER’ THEME FOR 2014 WHEN THE HOUSE AND GROUNDS OPENS FOR THE SEASON ON 15TH FEBRUARY.

The historic Kent venue will be running war-themed activities for visitors throughout the year, starting this month during half-term with a couple of fun children events designed to help young visitors experience life as a soldier.

SECRET SPY HUNT: 15TH – 23RD FEBRUARY (10.30 AM TO DUSK)

Reconnaissance soldiers are needed in Penshurst. Their mission: to transform into a WWI spy to help save Penshurst Place from enemy invasion. The soldier spies will need cunning skills to hunt down and solve war-themed secret clues to find ten missing objects that are hidden around the gardens and adventure playground.

This fun children’s trail is included within the admission fee and will be running throughout the half-term school holiday from 15th – 23rd February 2014 from 10.30am – dusk. Normal garden admission prices apply

For more information http://www.penshurstplace.com/whatson

WAR WOUNDS MAKE-UP WORKSHOP: 19TH FEBRUARY (4PM TO 6PM)

penshurst

war wounds make upworld war oneThe Porcupine Pantry at Penshurst Place will be transformed into a WWI wounds clinic on Wednesday 19th February between 4pm and 6pm when award-winning special effect artist Kate Griffiths runs a ‘War Wounds’ make-up workshop.

Designed by Kate especially for Penshurst Place, the event will show older children (age 7+) how to create fake wounds using everyday household materials and how to bandage their injuries in the same way as they would have been during WW1.

Tickets £10 (For children aged 7+)
www.penshurstplace.com/etickets

Selected upcoming March highlights at Penshurst Place & Gardens include Mothering Sunday family activities with special lunch menu on 30th March; an adult Spring Stroll and Lunch on 16th March and spring bulbs and blossom displays in the gardens.

SPRING STROLL & LUNCH – ADULT EVENT: 16TH MARCH

Dust off your walking boots for a leisurely two hour stroll and 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, lunch and garden admission) 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

Families can celebrate Mother’s Day at Penshurst Place with fun craft activities to suit all ages and a special menu in the Garden Restaurant. 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 made in the Education Room. 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 February and March:-

• Toy Museum
• House (Sats & Suns only)
• Woodland Trail
• Adventure Playground
• Garden Restaurant
• Porcupine Pantry
• Gift Shop
• The Gardens:

February – early spring flowering bulbs in the Orchard, Nut Garden, Lime Walk and Horse Pond

March – 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.

Frontline services in Medway are to be protected despite cuts to the amount of money the council receives from the Government, under budget proposals.

Medway Council’s provisional 2014/15 draft budget will again ensure all the services our residents receive from us will continue.

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.

And, unlike many other authorities, our 14 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.

This determination to protect frontline services sits against a national picture of authorities axing services in a bid to balance the books.

However, the council will reluctantly have to seek a rise in council tax this year of 1.99 per cent in order to protect all the services it provides to nearly 270,000 residents.

This equates to a £22.77 increase per year for an average Band D property – the equivalent of 44p a week.

Council tax is essential in supporting all council services including children’s services, adult social care, parks and refuse collections.

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

An unprecedented cut in funding to the council from the government will see the authority get a proposed £52million this year – a huge 17 per cent less than last year. This equates to a total grant of around £3.70 each week for each resident.

Elsewhere, other similar sized authorities have seen much less radical cuts to the government grants and receive a far greater amount than Medway.

In fact, Medway has been hit heavily over a number of years and the council expects that, by 2015/16, it will have seen its funding from central government cut by a total of 48 per cent over five years.

Against that backdrop, the council is still able to protect valuable services for the next year while working to an almost impossible deadline imposed by central government.

In order to make sure the council has enough time to reach a balanced budget by 11 March – which is a legal requirement for all councils – the council is putting forward its budget proposals to Cabinet on 11 February.

This will give officers 24 hours to inject any changes into the proposals so that the papers for the Full Council meeting can go online the next day – a legal requirement unless there are extreme issues of urgency.

Full Council will be on 20 February and this ensures that all issues can be tied up to meet the 11 March deadline.

However, the government has this year delayed the date it will set in stone the grant settlement it will give all councils until 12 February – one day after Medway Council’s Cabinet meeting.

It is also believed the Chancellor may make further changes to the amount of council tax that can be collected by all local councils. If the government makes any changes so late in the budget setting process, this will make it very difficult logistically for councils to set their budget by 11 March deadline.

While every authority is facing tough decisions, Medway Council is committed to doing all it can to protect its services for the next year and beyond.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio holder for Finance, said: “We have worked very hard to close the gap between what we receive from government and what we spend on our frontline services and we have come very close to doing that.

“It has been extremely difficult to try and balance the books at a time when we are facing such a drastic reduction in our budget.

“We are currently left with a £94,000 deficit which we will be finding ways of closing between now and Full Council.

“We were determined frontline services wouldn’t be hit this year as these impact on every one of us. A modest council tax rise is, we feel, unavoidable if we are to maintain these vital services.”

Details in the budget are subject to change, up until final decisions are made at the Full Council meeting on Thursday, February, 20.

See the draft budget HERE

Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, has given Kent Police a ‘clean bill of health’ following the latest inspection, released today, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) into the force’s crime recording practices.ann-barnes-3.jpgdeserve. Now the second inspection – carried out in November 2013 and published today – has seen an improvement in Kent Police’s accuracy level from 90 per cent to 96 per cent.

The latest inspection report found that Kent Police had:

• ‘Responded positively’ to the concerns raised by the first report by significantly improving accuracy in crime recording, including no-crime decisions
• Put in place a comprehensive action plan to address the recommendations from the first inspection
• Moved away from a target-based approach to focus on quality of service
• Ensured officers and staff had a clear understanding of their priorities without any pressure to chase targets
• Had surveyed victims identified in the first report as well introducing an appeals process for victims in cases where a crime is either not recorded, or where a crime is initially recorded but subsequently ‘no crimed’

Commenting on the latest report, Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, said: ‘I am delighted with the latest independent inspection as it clearly highlights the hard work that the Force has undertaken to overhaul crime recording procedures. I am now confident that the people of Kent can have trust in their crime figures. Kent Police didn’t bury their heads in the sand but tackled head-on the difficult findings from the first inspection. Kent is the first force to be independently inspected and it’s now time for all police forces in the country to take an independent look at their own crime figures. All local communities must have trust in their forces crime recording figures.

‘Kent Police must now sustain this high level of accuracy and I expect the new Chief Constable to make this his constant focus now and in the future. It is imperative that the force’s culture on crime recording does not slip back to the bad old days. As the Kent newchief Police and Crime Commissioner I will be holding the Chief Constable to account to deliver this. One of the reasons why I chose Alan Pughsley to be our new Chief Constable is because I have confidence that he can, and will, deliver on this.’

The HMIC’s Rape Monitoring Group also released its latest report today, summarising the national picture of rape offences against adults and children.

The report, showed during 1st April 2012 – 31st March 2013 Kent Police had, for adult rape offences:

• A recorded crime rate below the national average (231 cases)
• A sanction detection rate in line with the national average (18 per cent)
• A ‘no crime’ rate that is in line with the national average (13 per cent)

For child rape offences the report found:
• A recorded crime rate below the national average (177 cases)
• A sanction detection rate above the national average (40 per cent)
• A ‘no crime’ rate that is in line with the national average (5 per cent)

Commenting on the rape report, Mrs Barnes said: ‘These are horrendous crimes and whilst the report shows that Kent is at the national average I am not complacent. I expect better and I want to see the numbers improved. However, the figures are historic and do not take into account the vast strides Kent Police has made since June 2013 in overhauling crime recording procedures, particularly when it comes to recording ‘no crime’.

‘This report is timely and completely vindicates my decision to call in HMIC to forensically and independently examine our crime recording practices.

‘It is only with clear and transparent statistics – which at this stage do not always make happy reading – that we can move forward to really examine Kent Police’s performance.’

HMIC is due to return to inspect Kent Police in 2014 as part of a national inspection into ‘crime data integrity’ which will compare all 43 police forces across England and Wales.

2014 069Another evening, more rain and more puddles, more mud and no chance of getting outside and really enjoying yourself.

Then it’s a good job the Upnor Pier is here to brighten up our evenings and whisk us off to the Caribbean for the evening with entertainment, three course meal and fun competitions combined to provide a great evening again and not forgetting the genuine Steel band.

Our chivalrous host enabling all to take part Our chivalrous host enabling all to take part

Our congratulations to the Limbo Competition winner who beat off some stiff competition, not that it was a close run thing as I meant stiff in a…. finding it awkward to bend sort of way.

And the winner is........feeling a little unwell. And the winner is……..feeling a little unwell.

As for the winner of the Chilli eating contest, well Julia, you are fearless, we are checking, but don’t think anyone, ever, in the History of the Upnor Pier chilli eating contest (It’s a tradition now you know) has eaten all six, the last one being named a Ghost Chilli. Congratulations and sympathy go to you this morning.

If you would like to know more about events at The Pier, find them on face book, or see them on page three of our printed edition for regular updates. You can find all the pictures from last nights event HERE.

Layout 1A long-term plan that secures the future of Rochester Airport has been approved by Medway Council.

The Rochester Airport Masterplan includes proposals for 1,000 jobs with the creation of a new hub for science and technology firms and much-improved facilities in this key location.
The approval of the masterplan comes after a comprehensive public consultation.

First established in 1933, the Rochester Airport site is owned by Medway Council and has been leased since to an airport operator – Rochester Airport Limited.

Proposals involve replacing many of the existing buildings and facilities on the airport that are now reaching the end of their useful life and a reconfiguration of the existing runways.

One of the grass runways on site will be closed and replaced with a new parallel grass and paved runway. The paved runway will allow a small aircraft to take off and climb to a higher altitude very quickly, reducing the impact of noise on surrounding homes.

The grass runway will allow the nationally recognised Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) to continue to use the site for heritage aircraft and open days.

The new runway layout will allow 29 acres near to Rochester Airport Industrial Estate to be developed as a new hub for science or technology related firms – with the potential to eventually create up to 1,000 new skilled jobs.

There are no plans to develop Rochester Airport into a commercial airport.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader of Medway Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said: “Rochester Airport is an important asset for Medway and securing its future will help contribute to the regeneration and economic development of Medway.

“We want to ensure the future of the airport by maximising its potential for jobs and tourism and that’s what the masterplan does.

“The potential for new jobs here is just one of many benefits this masterplan brings.”

Steam rollers and traction at Festival of Steam and Transport 2013 003It’s Full Steam Ahead to The Historic Dockyard Chatham, as thousands plan to travel to one of the South East’s biggest and best events – The Medway Festival of Steam and Transport  

Visitors to the Medway Festival of Steam and Transport being held at The Historic Dockyard Chatham on Easter Sunday and Monday, 20th and 21st April, are in for a real treat this year as one of the South East’s favourite events gets bigger and better still! 

Returning to the Dockyard are the spectacular sights, sounds and smell of steam as traction engines and locomotives rumble by.  Hundreds of classic and vintage vehicles, live music across the site, penny farthing and land train rides will delight all ages and the interactive Modelling Zone with planes, trains, automobiles and boats of the miniature variety will captivate visitors!  Also returning is the Airfix “make & take” model building area, where children can experience building a model kit for free.

Children’s indoor soft play and outdoor play areas gives little Dockyard visitors a chance to let off some steam of their own!  Dotted across the site there will plenty of themed places to eat and opportunities to buy that special Easter gift.  All the attractions and galleries of The Historic Dockyard will be open to visit, as part of the event.

Steampunk1Due to popular demand, the Steampunks with their unusual Neo-Victorian costumes and steam powered wacky gadgets will return and have moved to the bigger venue on the Mezzanine floor, under the roof of the awe-inspiring 3 Slip: The BIG Space.  ‘Steampunk Central’ will provide a colourful and imaginative world with vendors offering Steampunk fashions, accessories, gadgets, and books; and the Steampunk Morris team will perform, together with an exhibition of Steampunk art installations.

Sixties and Rockabilly live music featuring “Like…The Beatles” and many others will entertain the crowds while they are surrounded by our new category of Hot Rod and Drag cars, with American saloon vehicles and trucks.  Live Folk and Blues music will fill the air on Museum Square with Skiffle band “Hobo Jones & the Junkyard Dogs”, as seen at Glastonbury Festival, plus many others to entertain you throughout the day.

The new temporary exhibition in No. 1 Smithery: The Gallery “A Squash and a Squeeze: Sharing Stories with Julia Donaldson” is perfect for families!  Visitors’ children can follow in Toddle Waddle’s footsteps, climb into the cave with the Cave Baby and meet The Gruffalo; sing-a-long to songs on Julia’s Jukebox or perform a play on the stage.

CallTheMidwifeAn exclusive opportunity is provided to take a walking tour around the location for the popular TV drama series ‘Call the Midwife’ and see how areas of the Dockyard were transformed to become the perfect backdrop for the programme.  The Dockyard ‘Midwives’ will lead the tour taken through the cobblestoned ‘Poplar’ Dockyard Streets with period vehicles, hanging washing lines and bicycles and music will recreate the special 1950s atmosphere, as it was for filming.  The perfect opportunity for the avid fan.

For a special treat, Easter Afternoon Tea in can be taken in the splendid Georgian glamour of Commissioner’s House.  Vintage crockery, 1950’s music and set dressed as the ‘Grosvenor Hotel’ featured in the second series of Call The Midwife.  Spaces are limited so to avoid disappointment, bookings should be made in advance by calling 01634 823846 to check availability and to make a reservation.  Alternatively there will be refreshments available in the Pavilion Marquee, plus good wholesome home cooked foods to enjoy from Wheelwrights’ Restaurant, The Railway Workshop and several catering units across the site.

Early Bird discounted tickets are now available to purchase online or from The Historic Dockyard Chatham. For more information go to www.thedockyard.co.uk/steamandtransport

Photo Credit Gemma Morson Photo Credit Gemma Morson

Try this second recipes from Michelin star chef and Gary Rhodes protegégé Paul Welburn, head chef at Searcys.

Chocolate tart pastry–

                200g icing sugar

                400g butter

                3 large eggs

                700g plain flour

Chocolate tart filling-

200g dark chocolate

100g butter

75g olive oil

70g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

6 eggs

150g caster sugar

 

Lemon curd icecream

1 litre milk

200ml double cream

60g milk powder

300g lemon juice

325g whole eggs

200g egg yolks

300g caster sugar

 

Salted caramel popcorn

25g pop corn kernels

50g clarified butter

150g caster sugar

Pinch of coarse sea salt

 

Other ingredients

Chocolate crumble (optional)

 

Method

For the pastry, start by creaming the butter and sugar together till pale, add the eggs and beat till smooth, add the flour and then mix until a smooth dough is formed, don’t overwork the pastry or it will affect the finished texture, wrap the pastry in cling film and rest in the fridge for 1 hour.

Once rested roll out the pastry to 2mm thick and line 8 x 4inch tart moulds and then fill with parchment paper and baking beans and blind bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°c for 12 minutes, remove the baking beans and return to the oven for a further 4 minutes till golden brown.

Once cooked allow to cool before trimming any excess pastry with a sharp knife, keep the cases till ready

For the ice cream, place the lemon juice, eggs, yolks and sugar in a pan and cook over a medium heat stirring all the time and cook until the mixture thickens and remove just before it reaches the boil, once cooked pass through a fine sieve .

In a pan bring the milk, milk powder and double cream to the boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon curd, allow the mix to cool and then churn in an ice cream maker , and store in a plastic container till required.

For the pop corn in a pan place the clarified butter, heat the butter and add the popcorn kernels and continue heating until the kernels begin to pop, place a lid on the pan and remove from the heat and allow the kernels to continue popping.

In a separate pan add the sugar and begin to heat until a dark amber caramel is achieved (be careful not to burn the caramel) then remove from the stove and add the popcorn and stir immediately to coat each piece, add a sprinkle of salt and stir in ,  place the coated corn on a piece of greaseproof paper , and allow to cool and the caramel to harden

For the tart filling melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water, add the butter and incorporate, remove the bowl from the heat and  add the olive oil and whisk in to emulsify, then add the flour and cocoa powder and mix in thoroughly,

In a separate bowl place the eggs and sugar and lightly whisk until pale, fold this into the chocolate mixture and mix together.

Pipe the filling into the tart case and place In preheated oven on 170°c for 7 minutes.

To serve place a tart on the plate, add a sprinkle of chocolate crumble (optional) a scoop of the lemon curd ice cream and top with some of the salted caramel popcorn.

Photo Credit Gemma Morson Photo Credit Gemma Morson

Try this recipe for a birthday dinner or even St Valentines Day, from Michelin star chef and Gary Rhodes protegégé Paul Welburn, head chef at Searcys.

Serves 4

Lobster –
2 x 300g-400g live native Cornish lobsters
3 tsp mayonnaise
3 tsp crème fraiche
Juice of ½ lemon
Season to taste
½ tsp chopped chervil

Bloody mary sorbet-
1 litre tomato juice
75ml belvedere Bloody Mary Vodka
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
5 splash of tabasco (depending on the heat you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pickled fennel
1 bulb of fennel (sliced thinly as possible)
150ml white wine
100ml whit wine vinegar
150ml water
50g caster sugar
1 x star anise
1 x sprig of thyme

Avocado puree
2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp crème fraice
Salt and pepper to taste

Other ingredients
Baby gem leaves – washed and torn roughly
Fennel cress (optional)
Olive oil to dress the leaves

Method

For the lobster, first cook the lobster, the most humane way is to place the lobsters in a freezer for 30 mins to relax and place them in a dormant state, then once removed pierce the lobster with a knife just behind the head pressing the tip all the way through, may seem a lot of work but fresh lobster is the only way to eat it in my opinion.(it can be replaced with the traditional prawns but it is supposed to be a special occasion!)

Next place the lobsters into a pan of boiling salted water and allow to cook for 8 minutes, remove and place into iced water, immediately remove the shell and slice the meat up and reserve the claws for garnish.

Mix gently the chilled sliced lobster meat with the mayonnaise, crème fraiche, herbs, lemon juice and season to taste, keep till required.

For the bloody Mary sorbet combine all the ingredients in a bowl , like the drink it’s a personal preference to the seasoning, lemon juice and heat from the tabasco, for me I like that strong kick of flavour and this ends up as the replacement for the traditional Mary Rose sauce in the finished dish so bear this in mind.

Once mixed churn in an ice cream maker and then store in a plastic container in the freezer until ready
For the pickled fennel bring all the ingredients apart from the fennel to the boil and then pour directly onto the thinly sliced fennel , cover and leave for a minimum of 1 hour to marinade, the longer the better if possible.

For the avocado puree place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth adjust the seasoning to taste .

To serve take a retro-style martini glass, place the baby gem leaves dressed in olive oil and lemon juice in the base, top with a generous mound of lobster mix, add few shavings of the pickled fennel and top off with a spoon of avocado puree, the dressed claw some fennel cress, and finally a spoon of the bloody Mary sorbet

speed article Consultation ends next week on proposals to reduce the speed limit for drivers on the Hoo Peninsula.

A number of parish councils have been asked for their views on new speed limits proposed for the area. And they have until Monday, 3 February to have their say.

The idea is to reduce the current 60mph limit down to 40mph and also 30mph for some roads. The consultation follows a request by some residents to implement a 40mph speed limit on the Ratcliffe Highway and a 30mph limit for the hamlet of St. Mary Hoo and St. Mary’s Cottages.

This will provide consistency for drivers on the rural roads as well helping the local environment by cutting down on carbon emissions.

Backers of the campaign also hope reducing the speed limit will decrease road collisions and improve conditions for other users such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Cllr Phil Filmer, Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services, encourages the move. He said: “These changes could make a huge difference to the area, making the roads safer for residents and commuters as well as benefiting the rural location by decreasing pollution and noise.” “I welcome people to come forward with their comments.”

Parish councils, including Allhallows, Cliffe Woods, High Halstow, Hoo St Werburgh, St Mary Hoo and Stoke still have until next week to voice their opinions. If the plans are approved, new speed limit signs will be put up during March.

Figures released today show schools in Medway are narrowing the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and other pupils.

Performance at Key Stage 4 shows that in Medway, there has been an increase in the percentage of disadvantaged pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, up 1.8 percent to 38.8%.

That closes the gap from 30% in 2012 to 28.5% in 2013.

cllobrien.jpgIn 2013, the overall Medway figure for the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) has been maintained at 61%. That means Medway is above the national figure of 60.6%. Lead Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services at Medway Council, Councillor Mike O’Brien, said: “We have much to celebrate in Medway schools with further evidence of a continuing improvement.

“Figures only show part of the picture and don’t always reflect the hard work being done by teachers and pupils but today we can congratulate all those involved for showing Medway schools are really going places.

“That’s not to say we will take these figures for granted and the hard work will continue.
“But this is fantastic news and I would like to say well done to all our young people who have worked so hard to achieve this with their dedicated and hard-working staff.”

Key facts and figures:
Medway Performance at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5

• The number of pupils at the end of Key Stage 4 has increased by 2.3%, from 3168 in 2012 to 3242 in 2013.

• In 2013, the overall Medway figure for the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) has been maintained at 61%.

• The number of pupils entered for all English Baccalaureate subjects increased by 68%.

• The percentage of Medway pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects increased from 14.7% in 2012 to 18.6% this year. This represents an improvement of 3.9% and exceeds the 2012 national figure of 18.4%.

• Almost all Medway state funded schools saw an increase in the percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects.

• Both of the Medway LA maintained secondary schools had successful results.

• The number of pupils at the Howard School at the end of Key Stage 4 increased from 219 in 2012 to 238 in 2013. In the past year, the Howard School maintained it performance level for the number of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics). Their figure of 62% was the same as last year, and exceeded both the corresponding Local Authority and national figure for 2012.

• The Howard School also saw a remarkable increase in the percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects. Their performance improved from 1% in 2012 to 20% in 2013.

• In 2013, St John Fisher Catholic Comprehensive School increased the percentage of pupils achieving 5+GCSEs at grades A*- C (including English and Mathematics) to 47%, up one percentage point from the previous year. The percentage of pupils achieving all English Baccalaureate subjects also saw a notable increase from 2% in 2012 to 8% in 2013. The school also showed significant gains at Key Stage 5.

• Robert Napier is the most improved for 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, with figures increasing from 31% in 2012 to 47% in 2013.

• Medway has reduced the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and all other pupils. There has been an increase in the percentage of disadvantaged pupils gaining 5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and mathematics, up 1.8 percent to 38.8%, thereby closing the gap from 30% in 2012 to 28.5% in 2013.

• The percentage of Medway disadvantaged pupils achieving the English Baccalaureate has also increased by 1.6%

Food waste recycling has just got easier for Medway residents.

medway council caddyFrom Monday 27 January, compostable kitchen caddy liners to take food leftovers can be bought at selected Medway libraries.

The liners are £1.50 for 26, a competitive price to encourage more residents to use them.

Libraries at Chatham Community Hub, Hoo, Rainham, Strood, Walderslade and Wigmore will stock them for a six-week trial. If successful, other libraries could be added.

Cllr Phil Filmer, Medway Council Portfolio Holder for Frontline Services, said: “Using these liners is good. They keep the kitchen caddy clean, reduce smells and make it easier to transfer food waste.

“We have had a good response from residents since we introduced weekly recycling in October and we want to encourage more.

While caddy liners are best, newpaper or kitchen roll can be used as an alternative. For more details, www.medway.gov.uk/recyclenow

David_Leak-apprentice1Confirmation that government will provide funds to buy a site at Chatham Docks for Medway’s new University Technical College (UTC) clears the way for the public to be consulted on proposals for the educational establishment.
The move follows the agreement by Minister for Schools, Lord Nash, that the Department for Education will release the finance for the college.

The consultation begins today ( 20 January 2014), and runs until 3 February. This will allow local people to put forward their views on the UTC and what they think about the suitability of the UTC Trust’s proposals for young people in Medway. They will be able to respond online, by post, by phone and by email (details below).

In addition, a series of events will be held in February where members of the public can turn up and discover more about the UTC, as well as share their views (details also below).

The UTC, which will specialise in engineering and construction, is due to open in September 2015.

It is sponsored by the University of Greenwich, Mid Kent College, Medway Council, BAE Systems, and other local employers and partners.

The UTC will provide a technically rich education for up to 600 students aged between 14 and 19, for 40 weeks of the year. The working day will typically be from 08.30 until 17:00 to reinforce the business approach to the UTC.

Professor Alan Reed, Director of Regional Development at the University of Greenwich and Chair of the UTC Project Steering Group, said:
‘’After exploring numerous options, the UTC Trust is delighted that the Minister has agreed to fund our proposal for the UTC to be sited on the new Chatham Waters development at Chatham Docks, subject to finalising the acquisition with Peel Land and Property and securing detailed planning permission. “Importantly, the £10 million new build will be in close proximity to the University of Greenwich, MidKent College and the Royal School of Military Engineering, thereby providing UTC students with easy access to the specialist facilities in engineering and construction available at these partners’’

Professor Reed added: “An essential part of the development of the UTC is listening to the views of as wide range of people as possible, to ensure that Medway UTC fully meets the needs of local young people, their families, employers and others.

“The consultation provides everyone with a valuable opportunity to provide their views.

“However, this is just the beginning of a dialogue we hope to have with the people of Medway between now and the opening of the UTC in 2015, and beyond.”

Cllr Rodney Chambers, the leader of Medway Council, said: “Medway has a rich history of construction and engineering, and a University Technical College specialising in these subjects will not only continue this tradition, but will also equip a new generation with first class technical skills that will help them pursue careers in these important sectors at all levels.

“The UTC will enable a degree of specialisation before the age of 16 that is currently unavailable, and it will engage and enthuse students. It will also benefit local employers, which in turn will boost the local economy”

The UTC will be situated on a 5,000m2 single site, with all the facilities required to deliver a high quality technical and vocational education.

It will feature state of the art buildings that will combine business and workplace facilities and ethos within an academic environment.

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