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George still in the driving seat at 100

AFTER 79 years on the road, Maidstone motorist George Nissen has just had his driving licence re- newed for two years – at the age of 100. The chipper centenarian, from Sandling, says keep-

ing the keys to his two-litre Mazda – which he has had for 23 years – is good newsforhim andwifeAnn (90), who doesn’t drive. “I’m so lucky I’m still able to do it,”

says George, who turned 100 on No- vember21. “People saywe could get help, butwelook afterourselves. The car means we can make local trips, like to the shops, which gives us our independence.” Cars have been in his blood since George was 14, when he worked for Crows Ltd in Maidstone – a whole- sale supplier of car spares and engi- neering parts. He started driving at when he was promoted to branchmanager inCan- terbury. George recalls: “One of the lads was asked to take

meoutontheDownstoteachmetodrive. Half-an-hour later, the jobwas done.At that time you didn’t have to take a test – theyweren’t introduced until 1935.” His first car – given to the company in lieu of a debt

Polytunnel agreed MELANIE Ward has been given plan- ning permission to erect a non-perma- nent polytunnel near Collier Street. Maidstone Council gave the go-

ahead for the structure to cover an or- chard of less than a 0.8-hectare at Little Spitzbrook Farmyard in Green Lane, but warned the applicant that the land was in a flood risk zone.

–was French,with a handbrake on the running board. George would catch the old East Kent bus home to

Maidstone atweekends, until he started playing foot- ball forHerne Bay. He also played forKentMessenger and Maidstone United. When thewar started he signed up and rose to the rank of captain, driving a motor launch in the D-Day Landings. After the war, George remembers:

“Iwalked backin tomy old job as if I’d been away a couple of weeks. It was quite strange after somuchhad gone on. I married Ann and moved to the housewe bought in 1945 while Iwas in Hamburg, and herewe’ve stayed.” George continued with the com-

pany, retiring as a director at the age of 75. He is nowan active member of Probus, a group for retired profes- sionalbusinessman,and enjoys noth- ing more than being with his wife of 68 years. Sadly, both their sons died in their 50s.

Ann,whomoved from the Isle of Bute in Scotland to

be with her husband, said: “It’s very important for us that George keeps his licence. I don’t know how we would manage otherwise. The bus used to pass our front door, but nowthere is no service at all.”

Village’s new loos for men

THE gents’ loos at Headcorn are to get a face-lift. The parish council, which

took over the running of the public conveniences four years ago, has set aside £4-5k to build a cubicle for men. Parish clerk Helen Ander- son said: “We felt that the

condition of the public toilets no longer reflected the village and as they are used mostly by visitors we wanted to get them up to standard.” In the meantime, the ladies

have been made unisex. It is hoped to have the gents’ loos open by spring.


60th birthday THE Samaritans Movement re- cently celebrated its 60th birth- day. Its founder, Dr Chad Varah

CH CBE, took the very first call to the helpline in November 1953. To mark this event, and in conjunction with BT, Maid- stone Samaritans was one of just 20 branches in the UK to have a telephone booth deco- rated with posters. A call box on Vinters Park was selected andsigns were putupbyBT. Local councillor David Naghi came along to show his sup- port. The Maidstone branch in Grecian Street has been open for 38 years. It has 79 volun- teers. Last year they answered more than 27,500 calls, emails and texts. Branch director Will Merri-

field said: “We are really proud that the Samaritans have been helping people through diffi- cult times for 60 years. People can contact us at any time of the day or night.We are also al- ways looking for volunteers.” Maidstone andWeald Samar-

itans are based at 48 Grecian Street, Maidstone, ME14 2TS. They can be contacted on 01622 674444 or via email For details go to maidstone.

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