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years ago and spent the last seven and a half years, prior to her return in 2013, setting up and running Make a Difference (MAD) in Mur- cia, southern Spain. Now, the 53-year-old former es-


Making a difference to homeless How you can helpMADM


THE founder of a new charity for the homeless, vulnerable and socially isolated is looking for premises and volunteers to help “Make a Difference” in Maidstone.


Amanda Sidwell left the town 30


tate agent and PA wants to weave some of the same magic into the patchwork of organisations which already exists in the county town to help addicts, the homeless and dis- advantaged discover a new life without dependency. Amanda has set up MADM – Making a Difference to Maidstone – a Christian charity which aims to fill some of the gaps between the existing providers. She said: “MADM has been built


to fill in the gaps of what is already superbly in place. It has been high- lighted that more is needed – espe- cially God’s presence and healing.” Amanda turned to Christianity in


the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001 and followed her calling five years later, leaving the UK for the sunny climes of Southern Spain in May 2006. There, she set about working with the poor and disadvantaged in her community. She said: “Someone once de- scribed me in business as a pit bull terrier – and that’s what I am; a pit bull for God. “It’s not the most glamorous of jobs, sitting amongst what many


Ashes blaze


FIREFIGHTERS dealt with a blaze in Heron Road, Larkfield caused by discarded embers from a chiminea. The resident had lit the outdoor


heater the previous evening, leav- ing the ashes to cool overnight be- fore putting them in a plastic wheelie bin. But the coalswere still hot inside and set fire to the con- tents of the bin. Fire crews spent 20 minutes at


the scene after the flames spread, damaging fencing, two wheelie bins and a children’s playhouse. Engineers went to the scene to iso- late electricity to a damaged lamp- post.


Kent Fire and Rescue Service ad-


vised residents to dispose of ashes carefully by dousing them with water and placing them in a metal container. Once cool, they can be emptied on to bare soil.


WI meeting KINGS Hill WI meets on the fourthWednesday of the month at Kings Hill Community Centre at 7.45pm. On August 26 the speaker will tell the story of the suffragettes. For details, call Tina Patterson on 01732 844721.


32 Malling August 2015 Driving up hospice funds


A CHEQUE for £10,000 has been handed to the Heart of Kent Hospice at Aylesford by a Maidstone motor company. The donation was part of a £30k


gift from the Motorline Group to three Kent hospices – the others being in Pembury and Canterbury. The presentation wasmade by Mo- torline Group chairman Glen Obee at the company’s showroom in Park Wood. The Heart of Kent Hospicewas es-


tablished 25 years ago and has 10 inpatient beds for adults. It relies heavily on donations to care for about 350 families from Malling and Maidstone every week. Mr Obee said: “Motorline was founded in Kent and although we


have grown to cover other parts of the UK,we feel it is vitally important we give something back to our com- munity. In this case it is something that will directly benefit local pa- tient comfort and care.” Becky Beard, the hospice’s com- munity partnerships manager, said: “We aim to make every day precious for our patients and their families, and it is thanks to the generosity of our local community, including com- panies such as Motorline, that we are able to provide expert support to over 1,000 patients every year.” Founded in 1972, Motorline


Group has more than 900 staff, with dealerships representing brands such as VW, Toyota, Peugeot and Maserati.


MADMalready has an abundance of donated items spread over three garages and has donated bedding, toiletries and household items to various supported housing schemes and individuals. Amanda would like to hear from


anyone who can support MADM in any way. She said: “If anyone wants to


walk the road with us, please get in touch.”


Amanda can be contacted on mad_amanda@hotmail.com or 07769 268962


see as the lowest of society. But this is what I have been called to do and it’s hard to explain, but I do love these people. “I believe it was my calling to


move to Spain, in the same way I have been called to return.” Amanda never intended to set up


a humanitarian Christian charity in Spain, but before she knew it, she was in charge of two shops, more than 50 volunteers and 650 clients. She said: “It wasn’t easy – espe-


cially when my Spanish was poor and the locals were very untrust- ing, but doors eventually opened – I have never worked so hard in my life, but it was God’s love which


compelled me to do it and reach out – itwasn’t me!” Amanda’s family still lives in Maidstone, which helped draw her back, and it was only a matter of weeks after she returned that she found herself getting involved in voluntary work here. She has since volunteered with


the Maidstone assertive street out- reach programme, the winter shel- ter scheme, homeless feeding at the Baptist Church and SalvationArmy and CRI Maidstone (theWest Kent recovery service for drug and alco- hol abusers), and is known among the soup run teams and other or- ganisations and charities.


She said: “We are living in the


21st century –we shouldn’t be see- ing women on the street in this day and age. So many women (and men) are broken through their ex- periences of life – deprivation at home, abuse, domestic violence, bereavement, job loss etc. I want this charity to really ‘Make a Dif- ference’ to people in my home town.” Now thatMADMis in the throes


of obtaining charitable status, Amanda is ready to move the proj- ect forward and is seeking premises for its first charity shop. The United Reformed Church in


Week Street has allowed her to hold a pop-up charity shop throughAugust and volunteers are needed, as well as donations of goods. The shop is open from 10am to 5pm, possibly later on Thurs- days. She is also hoping for the services


of an accountant, solicitor, IT and social media expert, commercial landlord, web designer, PR/sign- writing – indeed any profession which might be able to help further the cause. She said: “I came back to England


for a quiet life and have fought against doing this, but I have come to realise this is my path and des- tiny. Everything I do is voluntary; I givemy time and rewards come in differentways.”


Illegal bikers


to face courts POLICE have reminded motorcy- cle owners in East Malling that they face having their vehicles de- stroyed if they use them illegally. PCSOs can issue section 59warn-


ings to anyone breaking the law. This means that if the riders are stopped again and found to be using vehicles illegally they risk prosecution and having their bikes seized and destroyed. Officers have issued warnings in


areas including Bondfield Road and Cobbett Close. A 14-year-old boy stopped in Blacklands Lane had his vehicle seized after reports that a mopedwas being driven ille- gally. He has also been summoned to court for having no driving li- cence or insurance. Sgt Ash Boxall said: “We are


aware that riders of these bikes can cause a great deal of anxiety. “When ridden in inappropriate


places they also pose a significant danger to pedestrians.We are con- tinuing to take action to prosecute those who ride bikes illegally and this includes seizing them and ap- plying to have them destroyed.”


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