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Boaters vow to keep river festival alive

AT least 150 sailors have vowed to hold their own unofficial river festival

on the Medway in Maidstone this July. After the organisers pulled the plug on the annual boating jam- boree and firework spectacular in 2014 in the hope of reviving the age-old carnival format, boat own- ers have rallied to organise their own waterborne event.

Three local boat owners pooled their brains to set up a Facebook page in support of the impromptu river festival and a large turnout is expected for the one-day gathering of boats at the end of July. Mark Smurthwaite (55), from Boughton Monchelsea, who moors his 25ft cabin cruiser at Yalding,

House in line

for free school GATLAND House in Fant could be the location of the new Jubilee Pri- mary School.

The building, which was previ- ously a centre for child and adoles- cent mental health services, was vacated in 2012 by KCC, which has been in talks with Jubilee Church and the Department for Education about converting it into a free school.

The school – which will be funded directly by the state, rather than KCC – has been taking appli- cations for its two reception classes and is due to open in September. It will be Maidstone’s second free school – Tiger Primary School opened in Boughton Lane in Sep- tember 2012.

One obstacle is thought 5

said: “I have nothing against the idea of a carnival. I’ve lived in Maidstone all my life and remem- ber them well, but the river festival has become a tradition too.” Sales manager Mark, together with pals Matt Holness and Brian Ashdown, both of whom live at Lit- tle Venice in Yalding, put the word out and within days they had dozens of boats promising to sup- port the ad hoc event. Mark contacted the festival’s pre- vious organiser, Martin Cox, to ad- vise him of their plans.

Instead of receiving a letter of

support, Mark was surprised to get a reply offering to give him a break- down of the rules and regulations – and the costs involved.

Mark said: “I think they are miss- ing the point. This is just going to be a gathering of boats – no fire- works, no entertainment, just peo- ple sailing into Maidstone and mooring up for a big social event.” Visitors are expected from as far

away as the Thames and Essex, with a flotilla from Canvey Island Yacht Club and another from Med- way Bridge Marina at Cuxton.

4 Award for caring councillor

THE chairman of Loose Parish Council, Vianne Gibbons, was recognised at an awards ceremony for her selfless work for others. Vianne, a cover supervisor and food technology teacher at St Augustine Academy, picked up an honour in the education category at the third Celebrate Maidstone awards. She was one of eight winners at a gala dinner ceremony at Clive Emson Conference Centre, Kent County Showground. Vianne (pictured) was labelled a

“miracle worker” by one of those who nominated her. The citation read: “Vianne stands up for what is right and for the underprivileged, both in her school work and public works. “She has made a fabulous job of bringing up a severely autistic child and three other children. A few years ago a TA at our school was diagnosed with terminal cancer and Vianne stood by his side, supporting him all through the journey.”


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The Big Ye llow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291 www.lincolnfur April 2014 No. 204 News Goodbye from priest

A TOWN centre Reverend is leaving Maidstone.

3 Civic march in town

A NEW mayor-making pro- cession will be held in June.6

Warehousing refusal COUNCIL blocks J8 plan.12

Obituaries Parish Councils 38

Comment 40-41 Crime Reports 51


Downs Mail goes digital

DOWNS Mail’s unrivalled local cov- erage can now be found online – along with many more features. Now in our 18th year, and with a circulation of more than 88,000, Downs Mail is reaching out to yet more readers on our enhanced website.

Users can go online to read our four editions, as well as our other publication Mid Kent Living, to- tally free of charge. There is also an archive section, enabling you to look back at all our papers. Our website contains additional news and sections on community events and business. There is an interactive feature, where you can advertise your local community events.

Award winners10

Claire Procter, chairman of Mail Publications, said: “We are pleased to extend our offer to readers and advertisers through an enhanced free online service.”

Have your say

MAIDSTONE Council is invit- ing members of the public to give their feedback on the draft local plan. Full details are in the the Maidstone Council-spon- sored four-page Borough Up- date in the centre pages.

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