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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - 88,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition Jan 2011 No.165 Town to rally in protest at hospital maternity move

OPPOSITION to the Health Secretary’s de- cision to downgrade Maidstone’s maternity services is set to reach a climax at a big public rally in the summer. Dennis Fowle, chairman of campaign

group MASH, described the minister’s con- firmation that maternity and children’s serv- ices will be transferred to Pembury Hospital in September as “perverse”. Mr Fowle said: “Maidstone has a history

for rebellions and I think we need another one now. Depriving our local hospital of so many core services is obviously wrong for

the people of Maidstone – and I think we’re all up for a fight.” And Sutton Valence GP Paul Hobday,

local spokesman for the BMA, said the de- cision was illogical as it totally ignored over- whelming GP and patient opposition. He wants Andrew Lansley to explain how

his move is consistent with his White Paper putting GPs in charge of commissioning and promising patients “no decision about me without me”. Dr Hobday added: “The local community is very angry and will continue to fight. We

will be shaming those responsible for the decision when the first deaths occur.” Meanwhile, MASH (Maidstone Action for Services in Hospital) has asked Kent County Council’s health scrutiny committee to get counsel’s opinion for a judicial review of Mr Lansley’s decision and to call for a delay in implementation until GPs are given their commissioning power. MASH’s executive meeting also decided

to: GP for reaction to Mr Lansley’s

urge the BMA to survey every Maidstone P4

Online farewell from tragic Vikki by Stephen Eighteen

A FORMER clerk of four parish councils in the Maidstone area sent an emotional good- bye message on her internet blog as she fi- nally lost a six-year battle with cancer. Sutton Valence resident Vikki Stancombe

(52), who was the clerk to Barming, Chart Sutton, Hunton and West Farleigh, died of brain tumours having previously fought off breast cancer and skin melanoma. Despite being bed-ridden and unable to

write, Vikki instructed her husband Mau- rice (51) and two sons Toby (11) and Cory (9) to write the following farewell message: “I can no longer communicate, and I am slowly leaving this mortal Earth, but the time I’ve had, although short, has been ful- filled by my two beautiful boys and my lov- ing husband Maurice. To all my friends, and fellow bloggers, I hope you have enjoyed and gained some deep understanding of how life can be turned upside-down to make every day count.” Four days later, Maurice announced on

the blog that she had died: “Life will never be the same. The boys have lost a Mum; I

Downs Mail’s bright future

THE Downs Mail is confident of a bright future – thanks in part to a switch to a new print company. From this month’s edition, every page is now in colour.

Chairman Claire Procter told

staff at the end-of-year dinner that the company was also confident of pulling through one of the worst trading peri- ods for British newspapers. “The quality of the newspa-

per has seen us through six very difficult trading months.” Meanwhile, paid-for local newspapers continue to lose sales, many free distribution newspapers have cut back on distribution and one Kent pub- lisher has confirmed the loss of eight editorial jobs.

lost a lot, lot more, but I have the best of memories that will stay with me forever.” The couple had been married for 14 years, having met in the City of London, where Vikki was secretary to the chairman of Citibank. They moved to Sutton Valence

from their home in the Sidcup area 10 years ago to bring up their children in the countryside. Mau- rice said: “We took an active role in the community. I joined the parish council and Vikki took on clerking. “She was meticulous in her duties, which came from the sec- retarial and financial skills she had developed.” Vikki, who qualified with distinction as a quality parish clerk in 2008, decided to set up a diary for her children to remember her by.

Maurice added that someone then put her

onto the idea of a blog, which had a regular readership of more than 100. “She couldn’t believe so many people wanted to read it.” The blog gives Vikki’s perspective as her

YALDING Primary school has been named the best in Kent in a league table for performance in English and maths tests for 11-year-olds. The 155-pupil school, in Vicarage Road, whose

full title is St Peter and St Paul Church of England Primary, topped the league table compiled by the Daily Telegraph from government statistics. Schools were ranked on the percentage of chil-

dren gaining level 4, the standard expected for their age in the two subjects. Delighted headteacher Glynis Coates said; “This

is really the result of all the hard work which has gone on throughout the year. It’s a reflection of the

Town Hall invaded in gypsy protest P3

Fears as village pub plan is passed

Huge petition forces grants debate

P15 P12

condition deteriorates. It details her seizures, her vain struggle to maintain work commitments and inability to write the blog personally in her last few weeks. Her latest battle with cancer began after a doctor at Maidstone Hospi- tal told her the devastating news in July. In her blog, she wrote: “Go for scan and – wait for it – brain tumours in situ! Not in a million years did I expect that

blow! Thought I’d done my time and almost made it past the magical five years – but not. “Asked what would happen

and was told steroids to reduce swelling but that weight gain was the main side effect – so now I can eat as much chocolate

as I like and blame it on the drugs! “Had a talk to my brave boys. Told them

what was going to happen. Are very upset. Lots of hugs and kisses.” On Thursday October 14, she was in a philosophical mood: “Find something to be grateful for every day. Every day be full of awareness of the beauty around you.

Top marks as Yalding school is rated Kent’s best

teaching and the hard work that the pupils have put in. Miss Coates has received a letter of congratula-

tion from Schools Minister Nick Gibb who said that the results placed Yalding in the top100 pri- mary schools in the country. The school was assessed as “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2009 and Miss Coates, who has been in charge for 18 years, said she was pleased that it was managing to maintain the high standard recognised by the inspectors. She said: “It’s a team effort, it’s not just down to one or two people.”

Oil Boilers & Cookers R OAK Services of Smarden

Breakdown & Servicing Oil-fired Specialist

AGA Grant Worcester 01233 770 138 Rayburn etc.


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