Easter holiday rail disruption

MAJOR disruption has been an- nounced to Southeastern train serv- ices over Easter. Network Rail says cancellations

will be unavoidable across the four- day holiday while workers press on with the redevelopment of London Bridge station. There will be no Southeastern

trains to or from Charing Cross,Wa- terloo East and London Bridge on Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15, and no trains to or from Cannon Street from April 14-17. Other affected services will in-

clude Greenwich, with passengers looking to attend theTall Ships event advised tomakealternative arrange- ments.

Network Rail says the disruption

will continue inAugust, when work will take place over the bank holiday and the four following days, which willmeanno Southeastern service at London Bridge,Waterloo East, and Charing Cross for all eight days. These trains will be diverted to other London stations, but Network Rail warns these are likely to be ex- tremely busy, with queuing systems in place. There will be further disruption at Christmas, with no trains available at a number of stations from Decem- ber 23 to January 2. Ellie Burrows, train services direc-

tor at Southeastern, says more infor- mation will be available nearer the time, adding: “The work being done at London Bridge continues to be hard on our passengers, but we are confident it will be worth it. ”

Traffic lights affect buses

TEMPORARY traffic lights have been set up near the entrance to Maidstone Hospital and a Bovis housing development, causing major queues. Bus services are being delayed and

some have even been cancelled. Arriva posted a message to cus-

tomers on social media on Thursday, March 16. “Temporary lights on Hermitage

Lane close to Maidstone hospital are causing significant delays, and even cancellations, on a daily basis, on any services operating in that area including the 8 and 85,” it said. “We apologise for any inconven-

ience caused, but this is beyond our control. We recommend using the ArrivaApp for live info.” In further bad news, Kent High-

ways confirmed the roadworks are to continue for another FIVEweeks. They said: “There will be tempo-

rary signals on Hermitage Lane at the hospital entrance to enable sig- nal improvement and anewjunction to be created by Bovis Homes. De- lays are expected throughout the works. Completion time: April 25.”

18 Maidstone April 2017 French honour D-day heroes

D-DAY heroes from Maidstone have attended a celebration dinner hosted by Kent County Council. George Batts MBE, from Barming, and Jock Hutton, from Larkfield, were among 14 veterans from Kent invited by county council chairman Tom Gates to celebrate them receiving the Legion d’Honneur for helping to lib- erate France in WWII. George was 18 when he waded ashore on June 6, 1944. He was among 156,000 troops to take part in the daring operation that helped strike a blow against the Nazis. He is pictured above in the second row, second left. Meanwhile, Paratrooper John (Jock) Hutton (picturedwearing beret)was

targeting the Orne river and its adjacent canal, tasked with seizing or de- stroying bridges to prevent a German counter-thrust against the am- phibious forces landing at dawn.  The French Government announced in 2014 its intention to recognise the selfless acts of heroism and determination of all surviving veterans of the Normandy landings and campaigns to liberate France in 1944 by awarding them the Legion d’Honneur, the country’s highest honour.

Head to retire after 28 years at village school

AFTER 28 years as head teacher at Hollingbourne Primary School, things are going to get a whole lot quieter for Ralph Baldock.

The 74-year-old Maidstone resi-

dent, who still teaches maths, Eng- lish, art and physical education, has decided to retire at the end of the summer term in July. He told Downs Mail: “The role of

head teacher is a big one and I just feel it’s time to move aside for a younger person.” It followsmanyhappy years at the

school for Mr Baldock, who joined the school in 1989 after earning pro- motion from deputy head atYalding School.

Thousands of students have since

spent their all-important formative years in his care at the village school in Eyhorne Street. The register at the school, which opened its doors in 1877, has almost doubled during his time as head to 107 four to 11-year- olds. It has also consistently received good grades from Ofsted inspectors in that time. Mr Baldock laughs: “We’ve done

well out of the process, but these in- spections do put a lot of pressure on schools. “Any headship is full on and non-

stop activity, but I’ve really enjoyed mytime here in this rural setting and I still spend time doing what I enjoy the most, which is teaching; I’m not a natural office worker.”

Writing praise

HOLLINGBOURNE School is in the top1%of primary schools in Eng- land for achievement in writing. In a letter from Education Min-

ister Nick Gibb, Ralph Baldockwas congratulated on 100% of his pupils making the grade in writing in the 2016 key stage 2 assess- ments – placing it in the top 1% of primary schools in England.

Hethanked staff, parents and gov-

ernors for their support and said that while “I don’t like a lot of fuss”, he is thinking of planting a tree in the school grounds to mark his tenure. Mr Baldock says he will spend his retirement walking and travelling and meeting with friends. He also runs the St Michael and All Angels Scout Troup in Maidstone, where he lives.

Charity help

CAN you spare a few hours? Deaf charity Hi Kent is looking for volunteers to work in its shop inWeek Street, Maidstone. The help is needed mainly on Thursdays and Fridays or any other day, between 10am and 3pm. Noprevious experience is nec-

essary as full training will be given and travel expenses will be paid. The charity welcome applica-

tions from a diverse range of people. This is an opportunity to make

a difference to Hi Kent’s deaf and hard-of-hearing clients by pro- moting assistive equipment that can help make life a little easier for a person with hearing loss. Contact Donna Chadwick on

01622 691151,Textphone to 07795 951466 or send an email to for an informal chat.


IFYOUcannot get enough of the Iceland in the Chequers Centre, then you are in luck. A second branch of the frozen

food specialists is opening in the London Road Retail Park from Tuesday,April 25. An Iceland spokesman said: "Frozen food is the central focus.”

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