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Sight-impaired New head for girls’ grammar Paul rewarded


for achievement A MAIDSTONE man has been awarded the Betty Betts Award 2013 by Kent Association for the Blind at its Sight Matters Exhibition. Paul Smith (pictured), from Senacre Wood, was nominated by KAB’s Maid- stone rehabili- tation team. They witnessed Paul’s jour-


ney from being depressed, self- doubting and despondent to a fulfilled, engaging father and husband, a confident and inde- pendent traveller, computer user, KAB advocate, volunteer and proactive co-initiator of a new, more dynamic activity- centred KAB club. The award is named after


Betty Betts, who was com- pletely blind from childhood and served on KAB’s board of trustees from 1988 until 2002, during which she served as chair for five years. Those who remember her describe her as an inspirational individual who worked tirelessly to help and support people with sight impairment. She was awarded an MBE for


her services to KAB in the 2001 New Years honours. Nominees for the award are


put forward for positive com- munity engagement and repre- sentation, supporting their peers, personal development or raising awareness, advocacy and campaigning for people with sight impairment.


MAUREEN Wolloshin will be the new head at Maidstone Grammar School for Girls. TheheadofschoolatDane


Court Grammar in Broadstairs will take over at the start of the summer term, when Mary Smith retires. Maureen (49), who is pic-


tured, described her appoint- ment, from “a strong field of contenders”, as an enormous honour, adding: “It’s simply the best girls’ school in the area and I am enormously impressed by the staff and students and the sophistication and supportive manner in which the school is run.” She intends to maintain and nurture “the outstanding oppor- tunities offered by the school to its students”.


A GROUP of cyclists from Harriet- sham engineering company BAM Nuttall pedalled across four coun- ties to raise funds for Emilia’s Lit- tle Heart Foundation. Accompanied by colleagues


from their Norfolk office, they cy- cled over 160 miles from Kings Lynn to Harrietsham over two days – raisingmore than £13,600. Through Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex


andKent, the intrepid eight–most of whom had not been on a bike since their schooldays – pushed themselves to the limit for the Emilia’s Little Heart, the Lenham- based charity set up in memory of three-year old Emilia Webb, and the Break Charity, which helps young people in Norfolk. Emilia spent three months at the


Evelina Children’s Hospital in Lon- don, during which time her mum


COMMUNITY orchards in Lenham, Weavering, Hucking and Stockbury are among 15 in Kent to reap the rewards of Heritage Lottery funding. The Kent Orchards for Everyone project, in con- junction with theMedwayValley Countryside Part- nership and Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been awarded £220,000 to fur- ther its work in inspiring communities. The project aims to support villagers in the active involvement and celebration of traditional orchard


Senior bid manager Terry Crittenden with cyclist Dan Donohue, Ian Gardiner and Julie Jenkinson, and ClaireWebb


Claire Webb was humbled by the families shemet. She said: “Emilia and the children in hospital made melook at howlucky Iamand they inspired me to look at ways in which I can give back.” Claire acceptedacheque for half


the funds raised on behalf of the charity,explaininghowEmilia’s Lit-


Lottery grant to boost Kent’s orchard heritage


heritage in Kent over the next four years. Volunteerswill carry out restoration and conser-


vation work and there will be opportunities to learn new orchard management skills. It will encompass workshops, an educational programme and information about each orchard through a singleweb portal allowing on-line access to all that is traditional in orchards. It is also in- tended to have tastings and the project will culmi- nate with the formation of a Kent Orchard Trust.


Work starts on McDonald’s


CONTRACTORS are expected to startwork in De- cember on a new drive-thru McDonald’s restau- rant in the centre of Maidstone. The development – on the site of the former Re-


nault dealership, just across the bridge on the Tonbridge Road – is expected to take six months to complete. Work will also be carried out at the same time to widen Hart Street. McDonald’s says the diner, on the junction of


The Broadway and Barker Road, will create at least 65 full- and part-time jobs, and represents an investment of over £5 million in the local economy by the company. Maidstone Council officers using delegated powers approved the building proposal, which did not go before the planning committee. The approval wasmade the subject of a Section


44 East


106 agreement, which will see McDonald’s pay a contribution towards a county council traffic study of the Barker Road/The Broadway junction to see if traffic light improvements could help traffic flows. KCC also has plans for improve- ments to the gyratory system close to the site. A spokesman for McDonald’s said: “McDon-


ald’s will be providing a contribution, secured as part of the S106 Agreement for the development towards the council’s proposals. The level of con- tribution has been deemed appropriate to mitigate the impact of any additional McDonald’s traffic on the road network and is in addition to the work that McDonald’s will be undertaking to im- prove and widen Hart Street.” A spokesman for Maidstone Borough Council said the agreed contribution was £50,000.


tleHeartFoundationnowsupports theEvelina Hospital and three hos- pitals that make up the East Kent Trust (William Harvey, Ashford; Kent and Canterbury; and QEQM, Margate). As the charity grows, Claire hopes to be able to support children in otherhospitals through- out Kent.


Older persons’


forum invitation THE rural older persons’ forum, organised by Voluntary Action Maidstone, will meet at Lenham Community Centre on November 15. The event is open to anyone


over the age of 55 and living in the rural areas of Maidstone borough. There will be a welcome ad-


dress from Kent’s Older Persons Champion, Cllr Paulina Stock- ell, and a talk on rural policing by Barry Spruce, of Kent Police. There will also be a talk on the winter warmers scheme and the new dementia project by KCC.


Stalls will demonstrate serv-


ices and projects of interest to older people, and a free lunch will be served at 1pm. Transport can be arranged for


thosewho might find the venue difficult to get to (there is a small charge). Anyone who would like to


come should email office@vam- online.org.uk or call 01622 677337.


You can e-mail the Downs Mail — info@downsmail.co.uk The former music therapist,


who graduated as an oboist, and spent her first years working in advanced education in Bromley and south east London, was also assistant head at Black- heath High School, one of 26 independent schools run by the Girls’ Day School Trust. She said: “I like to keep my-


self busy and I’m looking for- ward to working in what promises to be a vibrant school.” Mary Smith, who will retire at


Easter after eight years as head teacher at the school, said: “I


feel very privileged to have been in the position of leading this wonderful school and have thoroughly enjoyed the chal- lenges and opportunities of the post.


“The students and staff are


truly outstanding, and I will be taking away many memories of the exceptionally warm, friendly, and scholarly atmos- phere of the school. “I shall miss everyone very much.” Asked what she plans to do in


her retirement, she said: “I hope I shall be able to carry on teach- ing in some way, as I have en- joyed it so much throughout my career and have always been a teaching headteacher. “Other- wise, maybe it’s time to write that book!”


Cyclists boost Emilia’s heart foundation


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