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Villagers to discuss the future of church

A PUBLIC meeting is being held in Leeds Church to discuss its future following the decision to end weekly services in the village. Downs Mail last month re- ported that Rev Nigel Fry, priest-in-charge of the Leeds and Hollingbourne benefice, announced that services at St Nicholas’ Church would drop down to twice monthly, in a de- cision reached with the Parochial Church Council (PCC), due to declining congre- gations. Anyone who lives in the vil-

lage and has an interest in the future of the local community is invited to attend the meeting, at noon on Saturday,March 31. The running of the ecclesias-

tical parish is now down to 12 principal people. The dimin- ishing electoral rollmeans there has also been a corresponding decline in income. Rev Nigel Fry said: “This is making it difficult for us to

Rural crime OFFICERS from Kent Police conducted an operation across four policing districts, includ- ing Maidstone, to tackle rural crime. In Hollingbourne, police seized an unattended vehicle reported stolen in Sussex. In Smarden, a vehicle was stopped and two people were given a warning for possession of cannabis. Officers also pa- trolled the Bimbury Lane area of Detling and across to Thurn- ham and the PilgrimsWay. Inspector Sonia Lassnig, rural Inspector for Tunbridge Wells District said: “We are keen to disrupt those who commit crime out in the rural parts of the county.”

make sure that the church is there for those who would like to be baptised and married.” The PCC is now seeking the

views of villagers – who do not necessarily attend church – as to how the church can serve the needs of the community. Rev Fry said: “We already have

some ideas, but we need practi- cal help in making sure this wonderful church continues.” He is hoping that as many people from the village as pos- sible will attend, bringing with them new ideas and initiatives. He said: “We want people to

think beyond what they think the church is like and tell us how they would like to help us make the future of our church more optimistic. “This is a wonderful resource

for the village community and we do notwant to lose it, so dis- cussion needs to focus not merely on worship but how the churchmight serve as a meeting place for other local events.”

Drink-drive ban A DOWNSWOOD man has ap- peared beforeMid Kent Magis- trates’ Court where he admitted drink-driving. Christopher Dunworth (28),

of GrampianWay, was stopped in a Renault Megane on The Green, Bearsted, and when breath tested, was found to have 67mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35mg.

Magistrates disqualified him

from driving for 18 months and fined him £300. He must also pay £85 costs and a £30 victim surcharge. Disqualification can be re- duced by 137 days if, by No- vember 18, 2013, he completes a course approved by the Sec- retary of State.

So many stars in this musical The Sound of Music (Gilling- ham Dramatic Society at The Hazlitt)


I HAD never seen The Sound of Music untilmy wife and grand- children took me to this show. Goodness, how those nuns


could sing! It was wonderful hearing such beautiful sounds dur- ing the show’s opening scene in the abbey. Rebecca Lehmann was utterly convincing as Maria. She looked

like a novice nun, the innocent and unsophisticated country girl. She had a lovely voice and could act – a near perfect performance. Tarquin Flanagan, as Von Trapp, handled the change from

tyrant to loving father in a sensitive and believable way. Musical director Peter Bailey had worked very effectively with the cast and orchestra, and Debbie Brennan had worked wonders with the children, who looked good, smiled and sang like larks. Debbie Brennan, as the abbess, and Claire Thurston, as Elsa Schraeder, were both outstanding, and the rest of the cast pro- vided powerful support. Set and costumes were good, but there were perhaps too many

dark changes between scenes, and why was smoke billowing on stage in all scenes? Grant Baker directed this highly enjoyable show.

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