Wednesday, December 27, 2017
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OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS
Thumbs up for a Happy New Year
FAMILIES have been out in force over the last week as they took to the ice at the Calverley Grounds rink and helped push the number of skaters towards a record figure. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC), who manage the attraction, said 31,323 people had used the rink as of the end of last week. This is an increase from the figure of slightly more than 30,000 which had been recorded at the same time in 2016. Organisers hope that by the time the rink closes for its seventh season on Monday [January 1] an unprecedented 40,000 will have taken to the ice. Bookings are said to be ‘strong and way ahead of the figure at this point in the past’. Remaining sessions run every hour from 11am to 8pm. This will change to end at 6pm on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Rail passengers hope for light at the end of the tunnel after long delays
INSIDE NEW YEAR VISIONS People’s hopes and dreams for 2018 Page 4
ROWING MACHINES Two young athletes tackle the Atlantic Page 54
DINE IN STYLE
Mary Berry shows you how to do it Page 38
Some London journeys taking two and a half hours with five changes By William Mata firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMUTERS are hoping engineering works that have brought ten days of severe disruption and misery for travellers, will be finished by the end of the Christmas holidays. Passengers travelling from Tunbridge Wells to London Bridge, a journey that takes usually less than 50 minutes, have faced a two and half hour trip at times with up to five changes involved.
This is because franchise holder Southeastern has suspended all services into London Bridge, as well as Charing Cross, Cannon Street and Waterloo East, from Saturday [December 23] until Monday [January 1].
‘We hope all will be working from day one next week’ The festive disruption comes as part of the Thameslink Programme in which Network Rail is looking to speed up north-south travel through the capital by
upgrading London Bridge. John Reynolds, chairman of pressure group Tonbridge Line Commuters, said: “We can understand why London Bridge has to be rebuilt and they need to close the station. “But we hope all will be working from day one next week. In the past we have had ongoing disruption and for this to continue would be unacceptable.” From today [Wednesday] and for the duration of the working week trains will travel into London Victoria instead of the other London station. This will take one
hour from Tunbridge Wells and 50 minutes from Tonbridge. Passengers from Tonbridge will also see some services terminate at London Waterloo. Saturday and Sunday proved a particularly tricky test for anyone braving the railways trying to get away for the holidays with both Southeastern and Southern scheduling engineering works. They faced extreme journeys into the capital with Network Rail’s own website
Continued on page 2
RAISE A TOAST
See New Year in with the finest fizz Page 40
Journeys involved up to five changes
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Town schools score encouraging marks in latest primary rankings By William Mata email@example.com
Continued from page 1 advertising one journey to London Bridge that involved five changes and took two and a half hours. This included a bus from Tonbridge to Sevenoaks, a walk from Penge East to Penge West followed by two more train connections. Mr Reynolds continued: “We do object to closing Tonbridge to Sevenoaks, and also Tonbridge to Redhill at the same time on the busy shopping day of Saturday. “Surely they can coordinate their engineering works.” A normal service is set to commence for many people’s first day back to work on Tuesday [January 2].
Engineering A spokesman from Southeastern said: “Network Rail and the various train operating companies have worked very closely in managing the impact of the Thameslink Programme engineering works during the Christmas holiday period when fewer people travel on the railways.”
TRAIN TIMES FOR THE WEEK AHEAD Today [Wednesday, December 27] tomorrow and Friday will see Tonbridge trains terminate at either London Waterloo or London Victoria. Tunbridge Wells trains will only stop at London Victoria, while timetabling amendments and a reduced service will be in operation. Things change on Saturday when Tonbridge passengers can enjoy a semi-fast service to London Waterloo. From Tunbridge Wells there is only a stopping service to London Victoria, which also calls at Tonbridge. On Sunday and New Year’s Day this remains the same from Tonbridge but Tunbridge Wells passengers would need to change at Tonbridge to make a connection.
CHILDREN are leaving Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge primary schools with some of the best results in Kent, according to latest ranking tables. Based on assessments of Year 6 pupils in 2017, the Department for Education (DfE) data shows maintained schools and academies are making the grade for reading, writing and mathematics. A table which ranks primaries based on the percentage of pupils meeting benchmark standards in all three assessments at the end of Key Stage 2 saw a trio of local schools break into the county top 20. Fordcombe Church of England Primary School was eighth in Kent with 94 per cent of leavers meeting expected targets. St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary School in Tonbridge (which ranked 12) and St Peter’s Church of England School (18) in Tunbridge Wells were also listed highly among the 581 primaries ranked in the county. Looking just at schools within a four mile radius of both towns, other high achievers included: Groombridge St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School, Leigh Primary School and Speldhurst Church of England Primary School.
Collaboration Also on the list is Claremont Primary School in Tunbridge Wells whose position on the Kent wide table  made an early Christmas present for Headteacher Sylvia Crockett when it was released last week. She said: “We focus on a curriculum that is exciting, relevant and fun so through that the children will learn reading, writing and mathematics. “These are our best results and I think it is
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CLASS ACT Primary school results made good reading
great that all of the Tunbridge Wells schools are working hard to raise results, I think most of the primaries have done better this year. “We work closely together in the town and we see it as a collaboration. But we try not to WORKING HARD Claremont Primary School Headteacher Sylvia Crockett
focus on the assessments too much, we focus on the curriculum and preparing pupils for secondary school.” One of the most improved schools in Tunbridge Wells was Temple Grove Academy which saw particular improvement in reading and mathematics. A spokesman said: “This improvement is down to the hard work of both the children and our dedicated teaching staff.” County Councillor Roger Gough, portfolio holder for education, said across Kent schools had reached an average end of Key Stage 2 performance of 64 per cent of pupils meeting targets. This compared to 61 per cent nationally and 62 per cent in the South East. He added: “These results show Kent pupils have access to some of the best schools in England and staff, governors, pupils and parents should be very proud of their achievements.”
TOP TEN PRIMARY SCHOOLS WITHIN FOUR MILES OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS AND TONBRIDGE BASED ON DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION DATA RANK SCHOOL NAME
TYPE OF SCHOOL
POSITION IN KENT
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Maintained School Academy Maintained School Maintained School Maintained School Maintained School Maintained School Maintained School Maintained School Maintained School
Fordcombe Tonbridge Tunbridge Wells Groombridge Leigh Speldhurst Tunbridge Wells Frant Southborough Tunbridge Wells
94 (per cent) 93 90 86 86 85 84 82 80 78
8 12 18 N/A 33 39 42 N/A 68 92
Fordcombe Church of England Primary School St Margaret Clitherow Catholic Primary School St Peter’s Church of England Primary School Groombridge St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School Leigh Primary School Speldhurst Church of England Primary School Claremont Primary School Frant Primary School Southborough Church of England Primary School St James’ Church of England School
Table rankings are based on percentage of pupils reaching the benchmark standard. When two schools have the same percentage, the percentage of pupils attaining a higher standard is taken into consideration. Department for Education data included 30 schools within the Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells area. No data was available for seven registered schools. *Percentage of pupils making benchmark standard.
16 Lonsdale Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1NU
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Paddock Wood turns down Berkeley housing proposal PADDOCK WOOD Town Council has voted to reject a planning application by Berkeley Homes to build 309 residential houses at Mascalls Farm. It was the only item on the agenda for December’s Planning and Environment meeting and provoked a long discussion. The decision to reject the proposal was based principally around water issues and the impact on Foalhurst Wood. It is believed that the development would
increase the flood risk in the town since surface water drainage would flow into Paddock Wood Stream, which is already at capacity and floods in wet weather. The council was also ‘firmly of the opinion that an additional sewer is essential to accommodate the new housing developments’. It said the applicant would not provide an off-site facility and was expecting Southern Water to do so, which according to the latter’s
business plan would not be installed until 2020 at the earliest – and even then there was no guarantee that they would consider it. There was also objection to the damage the housing estate would cause to the Foalhurst Wood nature reserve, including the impact of lighting and increased visitor numbers. The council also accused Berkeley of not taking into account housing styles in Paddock Wood – and especially reject any black-boarded properties and white picket fencing.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
NEWS IN BRIEF
Traffic warden takes edge off Christmas
Guide dogs are panting for lead role in pantomime
CHRISTMAS shoppers got more than they bargained for on Friday when they were targeted by a traffic warden for parking on a private road in the centre of Tunbridge Wells. Dozens of tickets were placed on cars parked just off Mount Pleasant in Lonsdale Gardens which is part of an estate owned by the Belvedere Trust. The owners of the nearby Barn pub tweeted: “After 25 years it appears the trust have decided to enforce parking on the estate at weekends, without any prior notice of this change. As you can imagine we are very disappointed.” The warden was not part of the borough council’s team. No one from the trust was available to comment.
Police say no review SCOTLAND Yard’s pledge to review rape investigations will not be replicated by Kent Police. The Met force is to analyse 30 sex crime investigations after two rape cases collapsed within one week leading to suggestions other forces might review their files. However, Kent Detective Chief Superintendent Tom Richards said his force will not follow suit. He commented: “Kent Police has robust processes and practices in place for all rape investigations and follows the recommendations on disclosure made by HMIC and the CPS in July 2017.”
Special 5k planned AN additional parkrun event on New Year’s Day will be held in Tonbridge at a slightly later time. The free 5km timed event sets off from 10.30am on the Racecourse Sportsground. Runners pass around Barden Lake on the three mile circuit which usually takes place at 9am on Saturdays. This follows a special Christmas Day parkrun in Tunbridge Wells.
BITING SATIRE: The trainee guide dogs with the Aladdin cast A DOZEN puppies trotted along to the pantomime Aladdin at the Assembly Hall as part of their training to become guide dogs. The performance provided them with first-hand knowledge of experiences they may encounter in their work.
The dogs ranged in age from 20 weeks to one year, and the panto provided the expected distraction tests like loud bangs, flashing pyrotechnics, dark surroundings in the auditorium, loud music and interaction with the actors during the
Boost for British Legion after poppies worth £48,000 sold… By William Mata firstname.lastname@example.org MORE than £48,000 has been raised in this year’s record-breaking Poppy Appeal for the Tunbridge Wells Royal British Legion. The charity has posted a figure that is 8 per cent up from this time last year in what is considered a 12 month-long campaign from October to September. Poppy sales provide the crux of the year’s fundraising total but other
events are held to boost the takings such as picnics and sponsored walks. Appeal organiser Martin Bagge said the current figure of £48,391 is the highest total he has seen around Christmas time.
Donations “I am confident we are seeing a record year and I am delighted to say we have the support of volunteers and the people of Tunbridge Wells. “We are a volunteer team of 80 and we have additional support from
performance. Janice McCauley of Guide Dogs Medway Branch said: “These activities provide invaluable socialisation and familiarisation training for the growing puppies, and exposing them to a wide range of
experiences whilst still relatively young sets them up to be comfortable in their working lives.” Aladdin runs until January 3 at the Assembly Hall
Cadet groups.” Mr Bagge said across Tunbridge Wells borough 70,000 poppies were being offered for sale in the lead up to Remembrance Sunday on November 12. This included one man making £361 in one day from donations, the highest amount. The lowest amount raised by a volunteer in one shift was 6p. The Royal British Legion help improve the lives of former servicemen and servicewomen. This can include financial, emotional and social support. Many members of the charity are former members of the armed forces but some, such as Mr Bagge, have no connection and are simply looking to help out.
My Vision For 2018
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
From getting rid of temporary traffic school breakfasts – just two ideas for As this year draws to a close and a new one is about to begin, we talk to a crosssection of people in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge about their hopes and dreams. Here’s what some of our dozen interviewees would like to see happen in 2018: The mature student wants to stage a major re-enactment at Tonbridge Castle. The cyclist thinks the government should take control of roads and railways The park volunteer would love to replace his leaky old boots. The Equality Party candidate thinks more breakfasts and after school clubs are a great idea The sisters want us to ‘slow down’ as ‘busy’ has become the new norm The theatre director dreams of staging ‘an amazing charity show’ The Head Teacher would like an end to temporary traffic lights on the A26 And the Chef wants the council to ‘get behind’ The Pantiles
Artistic Director of the Assembly Hall, Tunbridge Wells
Tunbridge Wells sisters who run the PR and events company Mum’s The Word Online
How was 2017 for you? It was a fantastic year for us! We have worked with some incredible speakers and brands and built up a strong community of women who come together at our events and online. We now have over 10,000 followers across our social media platforms, which has become a place for mums to connect and form friendships or working relationships. We also started running pop-up events in other locations this year, including Brighton and London. And memorable moments? Our Body Positive event with Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda) and Nat Lee (@stylemesunday) saw a real shift in the way we think about ourselves, our bodies as mothers, and diet culture as a whole. Most of the women left the room feeling empowered, emotional and passionate about body positivity. We also loved being part of the fundraiser for Flo’s Fight in February, but were heartbroken to
learn that Flo  lost her fight (against cancer) shortly after the event. Her story brought the whole community together and showed the immense kindness of people far and wide: What an amazingly special little girl she was. What would you like to see happen in 2018? Professionally, we are looking forward to expanding Mum’s The Word and hosting pop-up events in other locations around the UK. Personally, we want to make sure we get the work/ life balance right – enjoying lots of time with our family and friends, celebrating a milestone birthday and doing all the things we love. What would you like to see happen next year? It would be to encourage everyone to ‘slow down’. Life can feel like it’s racing by at a million miles an hour, ‘busy’ has become the new normal and we can lose sight of what’s really important. We would like everyone to start prioritising themselves and their families, and to focus on their own happiness and their own mental health in 2018.
© Photographs by Craig Matthews
Natalie McIlveen and Laura Swann
What was was 2017 like for you? It started badly as my mum passed away on January 1, which was a shock. Then my stepmother was also diagnosed with a terminal illness, so it was not the best start to the year. However, that meant it could only get better… The new team joined the Assembly Hall and we have made real progress with how we want to run the theatre and how the theatre works in its community, outside the walls of the building. To see the range and volume of things we are doing, just read the inside cover of the current brochure. I loved directing our pantomime and enjoyed the lemon marmalade Jean Webb (one of our ushers) made for me! In programming terms, I am pleased we have been able to get some more small to mid-scale weekly tours like RENT coming into the town. This year we asked our staff what charity we should support from
bucket collections during the panto, and we chose the Tunbridge Wells Mental Health Resource, so I am very proud that we all came together to support an amazing local charity. What would you like to see happen in 2018? The relaunch of a new, better Assembly Hall website, with some other changes around how we present ourselves to the world. Plans are already underway for both, so that will be exciting. We will also be adding a new role to our team – that of a producer, and that will be a gamechanger in the medium to long term. How will you make that happen? Passion, hard work and determination! Which single thing would you change next year? I would like to start to direct more work for our theatre; perhaps put together an amazing in-house charity show, as well as next year’s panto of course, which I can reveal will be Sleeping Beauty!
My Vision For 2018
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
lights to offering Kent children more making 2018 a truly Happy New Year Ian Bauckham
Executive Head at Bennett Memorial Diocesan School Tunbridge Wells and Chairman of the Tenax Trust, a Church of England Multi Academy Trust Can you sum up 2017 for us, please? Busy and fascinating. I have the benefit of a wonderful team of colleagues, and it’s a privilege to work in an organisation where there is such unity of purpose and preparedness to go the extra mile for our children, young people and their parents and families. There are three significant positives from 2017. The first was the opening of Bishop Chavasse Church of England Primary School in Tonbridge in September, under the leadership of its new Head Teacher Donna Weeks. The second was the opening of the new Bennett Memorial all-weather floodlit sports pitch – a long-term ambition fulfilled at last. And the third highlight was when I was told I had been awarded the CBE for services to education. The trouble is, I was not allowed to tell anyone for nearly seven weeks. It was, though, a humbling and very affirming experience.
What would you like to see happen in 2018? Getting the permanent building for Bishop Chavasse underway will be very exciting, and we hope to make progress with the other approved free school we have, to be named St Andrew’s, in Paddock Wood. Finally, it’s really important to keep on improving the professional development for our teachers. If you don’t invest in teachers and give them constant access to high-quality development, then teaching received by children will not be the best it possibly can be, nor will you be able to recruit or retrain great teachers. How will you make that happen? Constant hard work, pressurising key decisionmakers, and keeping ahead of educational research myself so I can give pointers to others in our group of schools. What would you like to see change next year? The improvement of the flow of traffic along the A26 in Southborough, near where I live, and no more temporary traffic lights there! Secondly, to do something about the old cinema site in the town centre. It is an eyesore and an embarrassment for a town like Tunbridge Wells.
Tonbridge Mature student at the University of Kent, local historian, Poppy Appeal deputy and event planner. Mother of three, with one granddaughter. How was 2017? Amazing. The Poppy Appeal team created a working party to plan the centenary events of World War I next year. We also organised events involving the community, such as Busking for the British Legion. Working with people like head organiser Carl Lewis, and with the community, gets results and gives me a sense of belonging and pride. I also worked with my friend Dave Swarbrick to produce walking trails that were launched by Kent in World War I, which were voted Walk of the Week in September. It felt such an honour. I met the family of Margaret Waite, a nurse who went to the front line in 1914. Her story and the idea of visually putting her into the public eye was taken to Hillview School, and the pupils created sculptures for the launch at this year’s Poppy Appeal. We got such amazing feedback, the girls did a brilliant job and I was so pleased with the result. My vision became a reality. What would you Iike to see happen next year? My passion for history and World War I, and the enjoyment of planning events, has led to the following being planned: The story behind the World War I gravestones in Tonbridge cemetery; a Belgian evening embracing refugees
in the war; a history walk around the town; and a major weekend event at Tonbridge Castle including re-enactment teams and a World War I tank, horses, pigeons, photographs and community displays. I would also like to see success for my children Elizabeth, Madeline and Rebecca, and will follow Elizabeth in her major powerlifting competitions – she is trying to persuade me to become a judge on a local level. And I will finish writing a book with Dave about Tonbridge during World War I.
My Vision For 2018
Volunteer Treasurer of Friends of Grosvenor and Hilbert Park in Tunbridge Wells How was 2017 for you? It has been a busy but ultimately rewarding year. I am always looking at how we can raise funds to run events in Grosvenor and Hilbert park – all of which are free to attend. Running two fish and chip quiz nights proved very successful, raising nearly £500 between them – and was good fun, to boot. It was also very rewarding for the Friends to be judged ‘outstanding’ in the RHS South East in Bloom’s It’s Your Neighbourhood Awards this
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
year. This is the highest level they award, and the certificate sits proudly in my dining room. As a conservation volunteer with the Kent High Weald Partnership, I work across a wide number of the borough’s parks, local nature reserves and other green spaces. I join a group of other liked-minded individuals who happily give their time for free in order to give something back to the community. It is great when we all work together to complete a task, but even better when those that use it say what a difference it has made to them.
Chef and owner of Hattons coffee shop and deli in The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells How was 2017 for you? Thankfully, it was a good year for us. We have an amazing customer base that have helped make Hattons so popular. We aim to offer something for everyone, so it’s very much a destination place for people to come and eat, drink and do a little shopping, too. The summer was an enjoyable and very busy season for us, and our new al-fresco dining area proved to be a very popular spot on The Pantiles. As well as running Hattons, I am also a chef and have my own private dining catering company, so in addition to doing events at different venues around the area, we now also do a lot of wine dinners in the store. What would you like to see happen in 2018? We have a lot going on for 2018 and are looking forward to getting started! Our events company, Hattons Bespoke Dining, is crazy busy with some huge things happening,
What would you like to see happen in 2018? Given that Tunbridge Wells was category winner in the large town section of the South & South East in Bloom Competition, and has an abundance of award-winning parks, local nature reserves and beautiful green spaces, I’d like to see the council promoting this aspect of the town. How are you going to make that come about? By getting as many people as I can to lobby the council. Which one single thing would you like to do next year if you could? Buy a new pair of boots – my old ones now leak!
and the other exciting news is that we are looking at opening another Hattons by next summer – but the location depends on planning permission. We are also increasing our offering on The Pantiles. How are you going to make that come about? I have an experienced team made up of managers and chefs around me who help with the running of the shop and our events company. Our team behind the scenes really helps to bring everything together, and have supported me so much on this journey so far. We employ passionate and creative people as our staff and they are key to our success. Which single thing would you change next year? I would really like to see the council get behind The Pantiles to celebrate its history and showcase all the quality elements this historic part of Tunbridge Wells has to offer. Parking has been a real issue in 2017 and is something that needs to be addressed to keep people coming and make The Pantiles an all-year-round attraction.
Member of the Tunbridge Wells Women’s Equality Party Told us about 2017 It has been a really interesting year for me. I have always been politically aware but felt, as a woman, my voice wasn’t really being heard, and I felt disappointed that women still don’t have equality with men. So, when I heard about the Women’s Equality Party [WEP], I knew it was for me. I signed up fast and helped to make a little bit of history by leading canvass teams to support the first Women’s Equality candidate to stand in Tunbridge Wells for both the Kent County Council and General Election. Connecting with residents over some of today’s big political issues as they painted their sheds or fixed their motorbikes was an absolute highlight. And we got great results for a first outing, which has shown me that people do really care about equality.
And the worst moment? The low point was when the BBC published their salaries and it became clear that, 47 years after the Equal Pay Act, women still earn significantly less than men for doing the same job. What would you like to see happen in 2018? In the centenary year of women first getting the vote, I want to see Tunbridge Wells Women’s Equality Party getting their first borough councillor elected in the local elections in May. How are you going to make that happen? Next year I’m going to stand as a councillor in the local borough elections in May in my ward, Culverden, where I have lived for 18 years. Sometimes you have to stand and be counted. Which one single thing would you like to see changed in 2018? I would like to see more breakfast and after-school clubs for pupils in primary schools to help facilitate women getting back into full-time work.
My Vision For 2018
The Head of Academy at Tonbridge Juddians Rugby Football Club How was 2017 for you? We are reaching the end of a pretty special year for Tonbridge Juddians. 2017 saw the Academy win the Under-17 National Cup, the Kent League and Cup double and the South-East Divisional title. Meanwhile, the 1st XV won promotion to National Two, and also won the Kent Senior Cup for the second time in three years. 2018 has much to live up to, but – as always – the target is onwards and upwards. The memorable victory in Worcester was the
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
prepare for the meet. I competed in the 50m, 100m and 200m breaststroke. The 50m and 100m I was happy with, but they weren’t quite where I was aiming – though I made it to the semi-finals in both. Then it was the 200m breaststroke. This wasn’t my preferred event, but it was my last of the meet so I wanted to make it count! I managed to make it through to the final, claiming a bronze medal after a three-second personal best. It just shows that anything is possible if the mind is in the right place. I was recently named Talent Athlete of the Year for swimming by the sport’s national governing body, Swim England.
Academy’s second national triumph in three seasons, and came with a completely different group of players. The 2017-18 season has started well with the Academy top of the Under-17 Kent League following a significant victory over Old Elthamians. And the Under-18s are into the second round of the newly formed RFU National Cup, following a resounding first-round defeat of Dartfordians. What would you Iike to see happen next year? To better the achievements of last season is a daunting task. The last time TJs Academy won a national title it took two years to win a second, so the challenge now is to defend it and win back-to-back championships. It is also a major target of the Academy to produce more homegrown players for the National League 1st XV, and there are several prospects in the system at the moment, with a couple already training with the 1st XV squad. The new 3G training ground, the strength of the coaching team, sports therapy provision and the attention to detail brought by resident sports psychologist Mark Healey all make the Academy a thriving part of the club and a very special environment to be part of. On the bigger pitch of life, which one single thing would you change? The ridiculous traffic in Tonbridge High Street.
And what about 2018? I would like to continue to improve in the pool and hopefully make another GB team.
A student at Kent College, Pembury, and a member of RTW Monson swimming club Sum up 2017 for you? It has honestly been an amazing year. It was early this year that I found out I had been selected to compete for Team GB at the Junior World Championships to be held in Indianapolis, USA, in August. After that, there was a lot of hard work to
Director of Tunbridge Wells video agency Digitom Tell us about your 2017 It has been another strong year in terms of the projects clients have briefed in. We have developed a lot more animated content, with many organisations appreciating how animation can be a powerful medium for conveying stories. Also, we have been pushing the boundaries with new technology, including launching a 360 Video for Shepherd Neame – a global first for the brewing industry – immersing viewers in a Kent hop garden. We received recognition from the Worldpay/FSB Small Business Awards, named ‘Microbusiness of the Year’ for South East England, an accolade we’re extremely proud to add to the awards cabinet. What’s been the worst bit of the year? If I had to be negative, I’d say the worst bits are in comparison to 2016 and consumer confidence could be a lot higher. There has been a marked drop in spend by international clients off the back of last year’s EU referendum and
How are you going to make that happen? The key thing is hard work: As Mahatma Ghandi said: “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” It’s about making sure I make the most of every session and put my all into each one. Success crowns effort, as they say. Lastly, I will be focusing on the finer details. What would you change next year? Something I would like to change next year would be to live next door to the pool! political uncertainty, as one would expect. But we’ve continued to be agile in a competitive market, delivering content for repeat clients such as Sainsbury’s and the University of Kent. What would you like to see happen in 2018? We plan to to hit the ground running with several projects in pre-production for delivery in spring. I’d like to push our work with friends across the Channel, given our proximity in West Kent, we can be in France as quickly as London, so it would be good to explore working with clients on new shores. How are you going to make that come about? We’ve been engaging with the Kent Chamber of Commerce, the International Development Team at Kent County Council and the Department for International Trade South East, and attending events and exhibiting abroad. Which one single thing would you change? A really tricky question! I have to say I’m happy with my life, but it would be good to maintain a good work/life balance and make sure I’m spending as much time with family as possible.
My Vision For 2018
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Managing Director of the publishers how2become.com – located at Kings Hill Tell us about 2017 It was a great year. It started with a real bang; I entered 2017 having helped How2Become achieve a record high turnover, and grew the awareness of the company to the point where it was recognised at a national level by being nominated for two Independent Publishing Guild Awards. We took home both awards on the night, including me winning Young Publisher of the Year – which I still cannot believe. Since then, I have been focused on growing the company further, particularly into international markets, and in October I took the role of Managing Director at the age of 26.
Member of the Tunbridge Wells Bicycle Users’ Group How was 2017 for you? Excellent. The best bit was seeing the A21 cycle path open with a proper tarmac surface, not crushed aggregate. It is also good to see the change in mood within Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent County Council and even at government level as people realise they cannot build their way out of congestion and are starting to take walking and cycling seriously as an alternative means of transport. What would you like to see happen in 2018? A revamp of the Pembury cycle path according to the detailed improvements we have suggested. These include: Raised tables and stop chevrons at side turnings to give cyclists priority, and induction loop operated Toucan crossings.
How are you going make that happen? By politely but insistently putting the case for such investments at every meeting and to every town and county councillor – with the aim that Britain should emulate and surpass the Dutch in transforming our villages, towns, cities and countryside into welcoming and pleasant environments for pedestrians and people on bikes. In the UK, 60 per cent of car journeys are less than five miles. Which one single thing would you change next year? In a small, overcrowded island, we would like to see the government take control of the roads and railways and all forms of transport so that our society can exercise joined-up thinking to create a transport system and network which works for everyone, protects our environment and is conducive to health and happiness.
What do you see happening next year? I constantly want to move forward, and will keep diversifying the company into new markets – for example, we have recently started publishing puzzle books for children and adults. I’m constantly on the lookout for new niches we can enter. Last year, we became the first publisher in the UK to create a series of revision books specifically aimed at students for the Essex 11 Plus, having already done so for the Kent Test. And I have many more areas like these
that I want the company to expand into. Knowing that we create books and resources that help others in their education and careers is definitely a rewarding aspect of my work. How are you going to make that happen? When I first joined How2Become it was just me working alongside the owner Richard McMunn. Since then, I have recruited and trained all of our staff – we now have ten employees on our books. It’s clear to me that a big part of our success has come from the great team of young publishers and individuals we have assembled here. Everyone is bursting with ideas, and the positive atmosphere they create at work is crucial, so I will be focusing on the team and how we can expand it further during 2018. What would you like to see happen next year? England to have a good World Cup football tournament in Russia! But I’m probably being a bit too wishful there… On a more realistic note, my girlfriend and I recently made our first step on to the property ladder when we moved into a house in Tunbridge Wells, so I would love to find a way to avoid having to budget so much in 2018!
Tell us what would make you’re New Year a truly happy one. You can email us at email@example.com
Local Business News
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Season of goodwill is profitable time for pair’s festive venture A COUPLE who created their own winter wonderland near Tunbridge Wells are expecting to make a £5million turnover from the site’s new home in Ascot this year. Former hedge fund manager Mike Battle launched Lapland UK ten years ago at Bewl Water alongside wife Alison after feeling uninspired by festive attractions they had visited. Following their own brief, the pair set about creating a home for Father Christmas – the hero of their four sons - with snow, a toy shed for the elves, reindeer and an ice rink to boot. Tickets, costing £49 to £120, have completely sold out for 2017 with 60,000 people expected to pass through the gates.
“Following an extensive and international search our children, like many others, were close to losing their belief [in Christmas]. “Then we started this project and since then our belief has never wavered. Now, in our tenth year we will share the discovery and our story with more families than ever.”
More than 200,000 children in total have visited the park after receiving invitations in the post which are styled as letters from Father Christmas. David Beckham is also a fan and is said to come most years with his family while Elton John, Paul McCartney and several Royals have also visited.
SNOW JOKE Lapland UK has proved a success
Belief Lapland UK moved from the Lamberhurst reservoir to Ascot in 2013 to take advantage of ‘better transport links’ offered by the nearby M3 and M4 roads. Mrs Battle said: “We went looking for the real Father Christmas more than a decade ago.
Prize winning shop fronts put customers in Christmas spirit By William Mata firstname.lastname@example.org THE time, effort and creativity of three shop owners saw their festive window displays named the best in Tunbridge Wells.
Business group RTW Together invited all town shops to participate in the competition, which was held throughout this month. Last week six local school children, aged five to 11, rated all the 20 entrants out of five and debated each shop’s merit at some length before deciding a winner. These were chosen as: Hospices of Hope, in Camden Road, The Silver Sheep Gallery, in Monson Road, and Fashion Carpets in High Street.
“It was our assistant manager Kristina Konakova who put it together. It is a winter wonderland with lots of stuffed animals and it is fantastic. “Kristina is very artistic and put it up four weeks ago. The animals were all donations that we could not sell because they did not have the safety label on them. “I feel surprised to win.”
TOP MARKS Jane Swannell of The Silver Sheep Gallery
Karen Pengelly, RTW manager, said: “So much time and effort has gone in to producing wonderfully enticing and creative window displays this year and an attractive High Street does attract more shoppers. “I’m glad I wasn’t judging as it would have been a tough decision. The children took their roles very seriously indeed – a big thank you to every business who took part and to the children for coming in to judge.” Runners-up included: Chapter 2, Hoopers, Zavens and Scallyway. Jenny Pullen, manager of Hospices of Hope, said: “We saw the window competition advertised and we thought we would give it a go.
WINNER Jenny Pullen outside Hospices of Hope charity shop
NEWS IN BRIEF
High times for gin and whisky brand
HGVs are still taking the high road
DRINKS producer Atom Brands has been named as one of the UK’s 100 fastest growing companies in a newspaper’s list. Following on from winning the top prize Grand Master at The Spirit Masters 2017 awards, the Tunbridge
A HAULAGE firm’s campaign to stop large lorries using the Dartford Crossing has not been endorsed by Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce. The leading business group stopped short of backing Europa Worldwide Group in their quest to
Wells-based company was included in The Sunday Times Fast Track 100. The firm was placed 99 in the table with sales growing at a compound annual rate of 46 per cent during the three years prior to September 2017.
send HGVSs the other-way around the M25 to cut congestion. Both groups met after the firm attracted 2,000 people to sign their petition, launched by managing director Andrew Baxter.
Blockbuster force could boost cinemas
Firms to help support young people
CINEMAS are making the most of Star Wars’ popularity by scheduling numerous screenings of the UK’s number one film. The Last Jedi, which is the eighth instalment of the saga, was shown 15 times on Saturday [December 23]
THE West Kent YMCA is calling on local businesses to support their scheme which aims to get young people into work. Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge firms have been asked by the Christian charity to consider
alone at Tunbridge Wells Odeon. This compares to every other film combined being shown 24 times. In its first weekend, The Last Jedi made £20.3million, the highest UK opening recorded this year ahead of Beauty and the Beast.
providing a placement opportunity for someone three or four days a week for up to six months. To find out more email Amanda Sheer at amanda.sheer@ WestKentYMCA.org.uk
Citizens Advice in West Kent rewarded for excellent service CITIZENS ADVICE in North and West Kent has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the London Legal Support Trust in recognition of the quality of its advice along with a £10,000 grant. Trained advisers offer free, specialist help to people who cannot afford to pay to prepare for cases such as benefits and employment tribunals. The free services in Tonbridge and Sevenoaks, part of Citizens Advice in North & West Kent [CANWK], have been commended for their excellent governance, fundraising, operations and procedures. Angela Newey, CANWK’s Chief Executive, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that our organisation has been recognised in this way. “It is a reflection of how well everyone has worked together as a team to provide these essential advice services to the community.” The London Legal Support Trust is an independent charity that raises funds for free legal services in London and the South East.
PROUD PROVIDER Angela Newey with CANWK’s award
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
FAMILY AFFAIR Siobhan flanked by (l-r) Casiah Palmer-Stirling (daughter), Niall (brother), John Haywood, Valerie (mother) and Jeremy Stirling (father) in New York
“Another had a bad relapse recently and couldn’t clean her teeth or comb her hair. Sadly, it took two weeks for the MS nurse to call her back because she is so overstretched. “MS can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, but it’s a Cinderella disease in terms of funding for support and research – it’s very seldom in the spotlight and there’s still no way of stopping the condition. This was Siobhan’s fourth marathon. She took part in the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon in 2014, having previously been able to run 100 metres. The following year she was taking part in the London race on behalf of the MS Society.
50 Challenges for the over-50s begins with New York Marathon By Andy Tong TUNBRIDGE WELLS mother of three Siobhan Stirling has raised more than £5,000 for the MS Society by running the New York Marathon on the day after her 50th birthday. The former BBC journalist and author, who lives in Langton Green, took part in the US endurance event as the first of 50 challenges she intends to complete in her 50s.
She created the Siobhan’s 50 Challenges project to redefine mid and later life and inspire people to join her in achieving more than they ever thought possible. Siobhan’s second challenge is to raise £50,000 for the MS Society before she turns 60, in support of two of her best friends who live with multiple sclerosis. Siobhan, who runs a communications agency, said: “One of my friends had to close her business and completely rethink her life because of MS.
“Running has been key to me rebuilding myself following severe depression in my mid-40s,” she reveals. “I took it up by accident. I needed to make a public commitment to get fitter after struggling on an annual walking holiday. “The medication that had caused my depression had also made me to put on two stone.” She has received £1,000 of sponsorship towards the cause from CapitalSpace, which provides business accommodation across the South East. Nicky Turner, area fundraiser at the MS Society, said: “We’re thrilled that Siobhan has set herself such an ambitious target to raise £50,000 for the MS community, and we’re delighted that CapitalSpace have helped her get off to a flying start. “Her challenges over the next ten years will help us support more than 100,000 people living with MS in the UK and drive innovative research into the condition.” Siobhan has set herself the target of walking 10,000 steps a day, and learning a card game every month, in the first year of her challenges, as well as reading a book every month across her 50s. The MS Society has a free helpline on 0808 800 8000. For more information on the charity, visit www.50challenges.org and www.mssociety.org.uk
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Law firm’s cakes judged by top baker Rosemary By Will Mata
CHILD’S PLAY: The Torpedoes of Tunbridge Wells Foresters Under-7s proudly supporting Fegans – (l-r) Marcus Seymour, Leo Taverner, William Downes, Seb Leuty, James Kershaw, Connor Horsall and Ralph Renton
Foresters’ young footballers bring cheer to Fegans children’s charity COMMUNITY football club Tunbridge Wells Foresters has raised over £700 for local charity Fegans, which provides children’s counselling and parent support services across the south-east. The Bayham Recreation Ground club is also helping to raise awareness of the work done by Fegans by featuring its name across all four of the new team kits for the next two seasons. Director of Football Adam Downes said: “The Foresters family is made up of volunteers who all understand our ‘Football for All’ philosophy and the benefits football can have on children, socially and from a physical and mental wellbeing aspect. “Aligning ourselves with Fegans means we can
join forces to promote these values and make them work harder for the benefit of more children who need help most in our local community.” Fegans Chief Executive Ian Soars said: “We are thrilled with the support we have received from Foresters. Despite doubling the amount of children supported in the last six years, there are still too many children waiting to be seen by our qualified counsellors. We believe every child deserves the right to access therapeutic support regardless of their financial circumstances.” To donate, go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ Foresters. For more information, visit www.fegans.org.uk or www.forestersfc.com
CELEBRITY chef Rosemary Shrager has been on judging duty for a Tunbridge Wells charity bake-off which raised £500 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Law firm Cripps welcomed the School for Cooks star to their third annual cake-making competition earlier this month. Mrs Shrager, who runs a cookery school in The Pantiles, said she was glad to be part of the event which supported Teenage Cancer Trust. “I was impressed by the quality of the entries and the enthusiasm shown by the staff in favour of such a worthy cause,” said Mrs Shrager, who is currently starring in The Real Marigold on Tour series on BBC Two.
Fifteen staff from the Mount Ephraim-based firm took part in the three categories: Sweet, savoury and showstopper. The showstopper category was won last year by Jessica Jamieson, who was also one of the judges.
Winners All cakes were then put on sale to Cripps staff, raising hundreds of pounds for the Teenage Cancer Trust, which provides care and support for young people affected by the disease. The winners were recruitment advisor Katie Slade in the sweet round, legal assistant Matt Walker in savoury, and jointly taking top prize in the showstopper round were conveyancer Michelle Perkins and paralegal Jade Baker.
CRUMBS OF COMFORT (L-R) Katie Slade, Jessica Jamieson, Rosemary Shrager, Michelle Perkins, Jade Baker and Matthew Walker
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
NEWS IN BRIEF Hospital unveils £2m Under-fire Conservative MP focuses machine in boost to on home front after leaving top job Upgrades to modernise Victorian-era station On his website, Sir Michael wrote: “I speak up for treat types of cancer BAT and Ball railway station will see thousands of people in Parliament. I knock heads CANCER treatment has been boosted at Maidstone Hospital with the installation of a new radiotherapy machine. The £2million technology has been placed inside the infirmary’s Kent Oncology Centre and will allow quick and accurate treatment of certain types of the disease. This is specifically beneficial for patients with ‘moving’ tumours which are tracked and targeted by the machine, which makes 10,000 calculations a second.
FOCUS Sir Michael Fallon has pledged to ‘speak up’ for Sevenoaks
Treatment Radiotherapy works by destroying cancer cells in the area that is being treated using high energy rays. Henry Taylor, Clinical Director for Cancer and Haematology at Maidstone, said: “The machine will allow us to target tumours which can vary in position during treatment. “This will help to deliver treatment quickly and accurately while avoiding healthy tissues and organs. “It is a very positive enhancement to the cancer services we offer and I am delighted to see the equipment in place and ready for our patients.”
POTENTIAL: Maidstone Hospital staff with the radiotherapy machine
By William Mata email@example.com WEEKS after quitting as Defence Secretary, Sir Michael Fallon has pledged to ‘speak up’ in his role as Sevenoaks MP. The top Tory has been widely criticised after admitting he made unwanted advances towards journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer at an event 15 years ago. But despite resigning from the Cabinet in November, as part of a sexual harassment scandal DEPARTURE that has shocked WestminFormer First ster, Sir Michael remains in Secretary post in Sevenoaks. Damian After 200 people signed a Green petition, started by the town’s Labour party, asking him to step down, the MP stated his intent to continue in a blog post.
together when people can’t cut through bureaucratic systems and I stand up for causes I believe in. “I do this because I can, whilst most people cannot.” Last week former de-facto Deputy Prime Minister Damian Green also left the Cabinet but is set to continue in his role as MP for Ashford. The Tory was facing investigations into claims he had pornography on his work computer and had made unwanted sexual advances towards Conservative activist Kate Maltby. Theresa May’s now former number two has not yet commented on his future regarding his constituency.
Wildlife Mr Green’s colleague Sir Michael also said in his blog he had been receiving ‘hundreds of letters’ concerning fears Green Belt land around the constituency could be eroded. He did not state if his comments were in reference to any particular project or part of the Green Belt. However, under central government plans as many as 620 homes could be delivered within the borough every year up to 2035. The MP continued: “I am a Conservative and I generally want to conserve things. “Where I think things work well, I think they should be conserved. But conservatism extends to protecting all things that are vulnerable.”
its Victorian buildings refurbished in a £750,000 plan. Sevenoaks Town Council bid last year for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to repair part of the facility which has been boarded up since 1991. The updated Bat and Ball station, which is used by 88,000 people a year, will feature public toilets, two community rooms and a café. A new ticket machine will also be installed.
Budget shops proposal DISCOUNT retailers Lidl and Home Bargains are looking to open stores in Edenbridge in a plan to enhance the Fircroft Way Industrial Estate. Sevenoaks District Council will decide early next year on whether to grant developer Ramac planning permission on proceeding with the project. The application follows a plan to build a Sainsbury’s store on the site, the proposals for which fell through in 2014.
Strike action planned RAIL commuters in Leigh, Penshurst and Edenbridge could be affected by a RMT union strike on Monday, January 8. Some staff at Southern, the franchise which operates the Tonbridge to Redhill line, are set to not work for one day as part of long running disputes over the role of guards. Strike action is set to take place nationwide but Southeastern services are unlikely to be affected.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Hull shop worker is jailed for smuggling painkillers A BRITISH woman accused of smuggling drugs into Egypt has been jailed for three years, her family has said. Shop worker Laura Plummer, 33, from Hull, was arrested after she was found to be carrying 290 tramadol tablets in her suitcase, a painkiller which is legal in the UK but which is banned in Egypt. Ms Plummer’s family, who have described her as “naive”, said she was taking the tablets for her Egyptian partner Omar Caboo, who suffers from severe back pain.
Appeal According to a Facebook group set up by her family, she appeared in court in Egypt yesterday [December 26] and was jailed for three years. The family said her lawyers lodged an immediate appeal. Ms Plummer appeared in court on Christmas Day but the judge adjourned the case for a day because of her condition, according to her sister, Rachel. Their mother Roberta Sinclair travelled to Egypt for the hearings. The Plummer family has previously said Ms
Plummer had no idea that what she doing was illegal and was just “daft”. They said she did not try to hide the medicine, which she had been given by a friend, and she thought it was a joke when she was pulled over by officials after arriving for a holiday with her partner. Mrs Sinclair said her daughter was being held in terrible conditions in a communal cell with no beds, sharing with up to 25 other women. Ms Plummer is being held in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada, where she was arrested at the airport on October 9. Her family had been told that she could face up to 25 years in jail, with one lawyer even mentioning the death penalty.
Record number hit lottery jackpot A RECORD number of National Lottery players became millionaires over the last year, operator Camelot said. Some 358 ticket-holders received cheques for £1 million or more in 2017, up from 347 in 2016, sharing £796 million. The year’s biggest prize was won by an anonymous EuroMillions player, who banked £87 million in June, while in the same month another anonymous ticket-holder scooped the year’s largest Lotto win of £21.3 million. One lucky player could win an estimated £23.5 million prize in today’s [Wednesday’s] Lotto draw after the jackpot hit its cap. If no players match all six numbers then the prize money will move down to the next winning tier most likely five matching numbers plus the bonus ball. Senior winners’ adviser Andy Carter said: “It’s been a non-stop year of millionaire-making which has kept the team here at Camelot busy, and we are guaranteed to have more with a giant must-bewon Lotto jackpot on Wednesday.” A total of 782 people won £50,000 or more this year and Mr Carter said: “We have had the joy of meeting each of the 782 big winners and watching them start to enjoy their life-changing win.
“Seeing them change their life and the lives of friends and family around them is an amazing honour.” Catering was the luckiest profession this year, with big winners including a syndicate of six “Catering Girls” from Wales, who shared a £25 million EuroMillions jackpot in November. Builders had the second most millionaires across the year, while last year’s top-ranking profession, drivers, were in third. This year saw the 525,000th grant given to a National Lottery-funded project, while the total given to good causes across the country since 1994 increased to £37 billion.
NEWS IN BRIEF
Pottery has high hopes for their Trump toby jug A STOKE-ON-TRENT pottery has unveiled two prototypes for a “flamboyant” Donald Trump Toby jug - after opting not to produce an orange-faced caricature. Hanley-based Bairstow Manor Collectables has high hopes for its 4in (10cm) tall model of the 45th US president, which has a “lifelike” appearance and his trademark hand gesture. Roger Bairstow, the firm’s owner, confirmed two versions of the US leader are set to go into production in the new year - an open edition and a separate run of 50 or 100 jugs with Mr Trump wearing a Stars and Stripes jacket.
Brexit price warning CONSUMERS face rising prices after Brexit unless Britain can replicate trade deals negotiated by the EU with dozens of other countries, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has warned. BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the cost of everyday products from food to clothing were set to go up if the UK loses the preferential arrangements it enjoys as a member of the EU. Currently, she said, Britain benefits from zero or low rate tariffs on various imports from trade deals struck by the EU with 73 third countries. The BRC said that the tariff on clothing from Turkey could rise from zero to 12 per cent, and fish from Iceland could go from 3.4 per cent to 11 per cent.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Shoppers crowd the pavements on Oxford Street
Doors open at Selfridges
Shoppers race to beat any rise in New Year prices Bargain-hunters were hitting the high street for the traditional Boxing Day sales amid predictions more will be shopping this year to beat rising prices. Around one in three Britons (34 per cent) were expected to go to the festive sales, up from 23 per cent last year, according to Barclaycard. Consumer appetite for the post-Christmas sales period fell away last year after an extended period of discounting that began well before November’s Black Friday.
Budgets VoucherCodes and the Centre for Retail Research also predicted the Boxing Day sales would attract more than a third of the UK’s population, expecting them to spend a record £4.3 billion - a 12 per cent rise on 2016. Barclaycard’s poll found months of “feeling the squeeze” this year is resulting in many consum-
ers looking forward to the sales to ease their budgets. Paul Lockstone, managing director at Barclaycard, said: “Last year, Black Friday overshadowed Boxing Day sales as many retailers struggled to maintain consumer interest in what has become a month-long discounting event. “This year, however, value-seeking consumers appear to be more eager to buy cut-price items across both sales periods as they try to combat rising prices.” However, a separate poll of more than 1,000 shoppers for BBC Radio 4 suggests the Black Friday sales are now more popular than the traditional post-Christmas spending spree. The majority of shoppers (56 per cent) who took part in the survey think Boxing Day sales have lost their appeal. Harrods’ butlers entertain shoppers
NEWS IN BRIEF
Thieves make a beeline River sweeps 4x4 away for valuable garden hives FAMILIES of two men who died after their vehicle THIEVES are cashing in on an increasingly lucrative beekeeping market by snatching entire hives, with 135 reported stolen over the past six years. New figures show that hundreds of thousands of bees have been taken from apiaries across England and Wales since 2011. Queen bees of certain strains can fetch up to £180, fuelling speculation that the price tag has motivated the surge in thefts. Martin Smith, public affairs manager at the British Beekeepers’ Association, said: “As beekeeping has grown in popularity in recent years, it has become more visible to the general public.”
was swept away in a river on Christmas Day have said they are heartbroken. Declan Davitt, 26, and Martin Needham, 27, were in the 4x4 when it entered the Carrowniskey River in Co Mayo in the far west of Ireland in the early hours of the morning. Another man aged 19 managed to escape and reach land. They were returning after a night socialising with friends and were crossing the stretch of water that had become swollen in bad weather. There were gale force winds and water levels were high. Their bodies were found on Monday afternoon after a major search operation.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
10,000 council Spending squeeze could staff suspended hit the housing market in last five years NEARLY 10,000 council staff have been suspended on full pay during the past five years over allegations that include sexual harassment and fraud, it has been reported. According to the Times national newspaper, about 2,000 local authority employees have been suspended while still receiving their full salary each year since 2012. Freedom of Information requests were sent by the paper to the UK’s 418 city, borough and district councils, 117 of which provided details on suspensions. The paper reports that among them were 402 cases of fraud and theft, 242 of inappropriate behaviour, 123 of harassment, 127 of mistreatment of children, 167 of alcohol or drug offences and 81 of assault.
Osborne ‘gloomy’ ahead of EU vote
Disciplinary According to the figures, Birmingham City Council - the UK’s largest local authority - saw the highest number of disciplinary suspensions at 330 over the five years, followed by Glasgow at 283. The investigation highlights one case, in which a Birmingham City Council worker was said to have been found to have committed “inappropriate conduct and sexual harassment”, but received only a formal written warning. Further details of this suspension were not disclosed by the paper.
Mrs Brown’s Boys and Queen top TV ratings THE Mrs Brown’s Boys Christmas Special scooped 6.8 million viewers on Christmas Day - making the BBC1 show the top-rated programme on a single channel. The Queen’s Christmas message was watched by 5.9 million on BBC1 and 1.9 million on ITV.
THE squeeze on households’ spending power is likely to mean house prices grow slowly or grind to a halt altogether across 2018, according to experts. But beneath the national figures there could be some strong regional variations, with cities such as Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow having been strong performers for house price growth recently as buyers look for value outside London. Uncertainty over Brexit and the wider economy, the first Bank of England base rate rise in over a decade pushing up mortgage costs for some borrowers and stretched affordability as rising living costs bite are all said to have added to a mood of caution. There are also signs that house sellers are becoming less confident when it comes to standing firm on their asking prices. Property website Zoopla has said that over a third (35.33 per cent) of homes on the market in November had had their original asking price reduced, marking a 1.25 percent-
age point increase compared with July.
Spotlight And a survey carried out by the NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark has found a third (34 per cent) of estate agents expect cases of gazumping - when a buyer thinks they have secured a property only to be outbid - to decrease in the New Year, while the trend of renovating rather than moving is expected to continue as 60 per cent think more home owners will do this. Meanwhile, the housing market
has been put firmly under the spotlight in 2017, with promises to fix problems and make life easier for those aspiring to get on the property ladder. This year saw a wide-ranging package of measures announced by the Government, including plans to boost housebuilding and a stamp duty cut for first-time buyers. But despite the plans, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) believes house price growth will likely come to a halt in 2018 across the UK generally, with price growth in some regions offsetting a weaker picture in London and South East England.
GEORGE OSBORNE has said he was “not keen” on the decision by David Cameron to stage a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The former chancellor, who campaigned strongly for Remain, said he had always been “gloomy” about the likely result of last year’s vote. However he said he had not wanted to create difficulties for Mr Cameron who remained a close friend and ally. “I was not keen on having a referendum in the first place but I chose to be part of the collective decision-making of the government,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “I certainly did not walk out of the government at the time. “That is not the way I tried to behave as chancellor. “I was not trying to be the difficult next door neighbour. “I was trying to be the person who, with David Cameron, my friend, made things work for the country.” Mr Osborne said, as the vote approached, he had become increasingly pessimistic about the chances of a Remain victory. “I was always quite gloomy about the referendum and its outcome,” he said. “I went round the country and I kept hearing from people I would assume wanted to stay in the EU that they wanted to leave so I was pretty pessimistic.” Mr Osborne, who is now editor of the London Evening Standard, acknowledged his strong support for Remain meant he was a divisive figure within the Conservative Party, but said he had not ruled out a return to politics at some point in the future. “I don’t rule out going back into politics but it is certainly not plan A,” he said. He said he remained friends with Environment Secretary Michael Gove, despite having been on opposite sides in the referendum campaign.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
And another thing… This is the page where you, the reader, have your chance to express your views or comments on what’s going on in our part of the world. We like to hear from you. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or write to the Editor at 16 Lonsdale Gardens, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN1 1NU the residents of the borough who are not theatregoers and have been consistent in indicating they do not want any part of these expensive, expansive plans. Roy Bullock Lamberhurst
It’s not personal, it is in vain
CREEPING AND CRAWLING Privatisation is ruining our services
Let’s own up to the fact that transport is a public matter What a surprise to read Tom Tugendhat, our Conservative MP, complaining about proposed cuts to bus services by the Conservative-run Kent County Council. It is his government that has slashed funding to local authorities and so caused them to need to reduce spending – so he is partly responsible for this proposal. Tom’s government passed a Bus Services Act in March 2017 which stops local authorities from setting up their own new services, despite the fact that the winner of the Best Bus Operator at the UK Bus Awards has been a council-run service for four of the last five years. It would seem to be driven by the Conservatives’ idea that anything run for a profit must be more efficient than anything run for the public good. This same ideology is behind the insistence that the railways should be run by private
Help us shape your bus routes I am writing to invite your readers to suggest improvement to the Arriva buses network in the Tunbridge Wells area. With a multi-million pound new depot about to open, we are keen to hear from local residents as to the bus network they would like to have in their town and villages. This will help us as we review what we do now and seek to improve further in the new year. Please either write to us at Arriva Marketing Team, Invicta House, Armstrong Road, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6TX, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org by January 7. Oliver Monahan Area Managing Director Arriva Kent and Surrey
It’s the poorest who will pay Now that 30 of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s councillors have voted for the Civic Development, and in the process set the council on a course of impoverishment for the next 50
companies, and more recently by the creeping privatisation of NHS services. Tom has been very vocal about the state of the railway services in this constituency – partly run by Southern. We would all agree that treatment of commuters on Southern trains has been a disgrace, but he has never suggested bringing the railways back into public ownership. Commuter fares in Kent are about the highest in Western Europe. European trains are efficient, and those in Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Italy and France are over 80 per cent publicly owned. I am not against people setting up private businesses and working hard for themselves. This brings new ideas and diversity. In clothes shops, restaurants, entertainment, etc., this obviously works. But things like transport, NHS and prisons are too important to be left to chance in the market. Fran Long Secretary, Tonbridge & Malling Green Party years, it is, contrary to the views of your Editor, a duty of those who are opposed to the scheme to keep pointing out the folly of that decision. Would any commercial or finance director of a public company recommend to their chief executive that they should commit themselves to a project where, for example, they build a new car park that will not see a payback for some 70 years, a theatre that will never pay back, and a speculative office building in a market where more and more companies are using less space and fewer employees because of online trading opportunities? Would they commit themselves to a theatre project where, in the first years, the subsidy per ticket will be as high as £10 per ticket? True, it may fall in later years to around £5 per ticket, but the disturbing characteristic is that the money to pay for it will be taken from the poorer members of our society, the needy who want advice, the disabled who rely upon Shopmobility, and of course the families of the deceased who will see a hike in funeral and cremation expenses to pay for the folly. The others that will pay will be the majority of
I wonder if there is a certain frailty about Cllr Moore when she describes as ‘personal attacks’ those of us who believe that the Civic Centre is a vanity project – and she has reached for this expression before: It is a vanity project, but it’s not personal. It’s the latest of many: We have two aircraft carriers which are the wrong ships for the wrong times and wrong wars when we fight them, and they are barely affordable, too. We have HS2, a project that delivers a scarcely worthwhile improvement for the few, that the many will pay for, when the same amount of money, spent on a broader range of infrastructure improvements, would benefit the many. Sitting where we are, we observe a project that has been driven through in the face of fierce, but not personal, opposition; nobody else wants it except the councillors themselves, and that’s what makes it a vanity, how else would she describe it? Edward Baker Tunbridge Wells
Campus would bring culture I have read the comment by Hugo Fenwick on Canterbury City Council’s vision to become a cultural destination for East Kent [November 29] – with reference to how a new theatre in Tunbridge Wells could boost the town’s economy. May I point out that the Kent and Canterbury Christ Church Universities made a £909million impact on the local economy of Canterbury in 2014-15, generating 16 per cent of all jobs in the city – the equivalent of 9,900 full-time jobs. Having played a pivotal part in the early design team on Kent, I am well aware of the enormous benefits the universities have given Canterbury. The fact is, Canterbury’s arts and cultural centre has been established through the financial mechanics of the universities being present in the town. Again, think of the benefits a new university campus would bring to Tunbridge Wells. Then we would see Tunbridge Wells replicating the Canterbury experience mentioned by Hugo. John Albiston Tunbridge Wells
Watch this parking space… I read with interest your article ‘Tunbridge Wells is a real hotspot when it comes to fines for parking’ [December 13]. It seems that our council gives out almost three times as many fines as neighbouring Tonbridge. We were only just beaten by Canterbury. Is it any coincidence that both Tunbridge Wells
We do our best to publish letters in full. However, the Editor reserves the right to edit any letter. Please ensure that letters do not exceed 250 words
and Canterbury are having to support massively expensive new theatres? Tunbridge Wells motorists had better watch out when the council’s Civic Complex starts in earnest! Yours, parked legally Charlotte Cowan Via email
Kitchen sink drama in store I have come across an interesting development with car parks on the Tunbridge Wells industrial estate which I think your readers should know about. A developer sells leases on a number of retail units but retains control of the associated car parking which he then flogs off to a car park operator, who then installs cameras and decides how much time to give the store customers to do their shopping. Then they just have to sit back and watch the money roll in, because if you stay in the store for a second longer than they allow, you get a fine. I recently made an appointment with a consultant at the new Wickes store at Longfield Retail Park, to design and cost a new kitchen. The meeting took over two hours, which is normal for designing a large kitchen, and in fairness the consultant did ask for the registration number of my car to avoid the issue of a ticket. Perhaps the Wickes manager forgot to log the details, perhaps the car park operators don’t recognise legitimate shoppers, but a few days later I received a letter from a company called G24 demanding £100. And the reason? G24 have decided that 90 minutes is more than sufficient time to make a purchase at Wickes and Tapi Carpets. If you are thinking of browsing at those stores in the new year sales, looking for that dream kitchen, or a relaxing new bathroom or some stylish flooring, you had better get your skates on. Roger Hammond Tunbridge Wells
Commuters and engineers As laudable as Cllr Heslop’s letter is [December 13], I have to point out that local rental properties formerly let to locally employed people at reasonable rents are now advertised as ideal for commuters at a rent of over £1,000 per month. Is this a form of social engineering? Susan Killick Tonbridge
Good tidings for the new year As Christmas and yet another New Year (so soon) descends upon us, it is worth remembering that this is also the ‘season of goodwill to all mankind’ regardless of race, colour, religious or political creed and, if one is permitted to paraphrase Gloucester in Shakespeare’s Richard III, let us celebrate that the ‘winter of discontent is made glorious summer by the Son of God’. Just a thought. Victor Bethell Via email Calverley is away on holiday – yet again
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
EDUCATION Times WITH THE
Historian gives pupils a lesson on parallels of Brexit and Henry VIII There is a direct link between the actions of the Tudor monarch and Nigel Farage, according to history expert David Starkey DR STARKEY, the constitutional historian and radio and television presenter, spoke to Benenden History students, parents and guests in the school’s theatre at the end of this term. The event was also attended by pupils and staff from Cranbrook School, The John Wallis Church of England Academy and Tonbridge School. Dr Starkey’s talk, entitled Henry VIII: The First Brexiteer, focused on Henry’s reign and its parallels with current affairs. “The break with Rome – the first Brexit, as I call it – is the most important event in English history,” he said. “Henry is the turning point in English history. England after Henry is the necessary precondition for what we are now and what we have done and what we are doing with Brexit.” GUEST SPEAKER David Starkey
Dr Starkey said that breaking from the Catholic Church in the 1530s came down to two of the same issues as the UK leaving the European Union – agreeing the size of the divorce bill and how many of Rome’s rules affect England. He went on to say that when negotiations failed, it was “exactly the position we find ourselves in when Cameron was defeated in the referendum: we have no (Prime) Minister and no policy”.
Informative The split from Rome, Dr Starkey said, was “fought with the same language, with the same words and with the same Parliamentary devices that we are used to now.” Dr Starkey concluded his talk on the parallels between the split from Rome and the 2016 referendum on the EU by declaring: “There really is a direct link from Henry VIII to Nigel Farage.” A former teacher, Dr Starkey moved into radio work and is perhaps best known for presenting television shows Monarchy and Henry: Mind of A Tyrant. Benenden Headmistress Samantha Price commented: “We are proud to be able to attract high-profile speakers to Benenden and David Starkey upheld this fine tradition. He was incredibly entertaining, informative and thoughtprovoking.”
Beacon Academy Council meet their official counterparts at Town Hall TWELVE Beacon Academy Council members were recently invited by members of Crowborough Town Council to discuss issues raised by the students and ask for their feedback on a number of different topics.
Debate The school’s Academy Council is made up of two elected students per year group and they meet once a term to discuss and debate issues raised by all years. At their audience with Crowborough councillors pupils enjoyed a lengthy debate on subjects such as the maintenance and upkeep of
RAISING CONCERNS Beacon Academy students with councillors
the footpaths and alleyways of the town, the promotion of youth services and activities, and the development of bicycle paths. Mrs Mandy Davis, History Teacher at Beacon Academy, and staff liaison for the Academy Council commented; “I was very proud of the professional manner in which the students conducted themselves. They prepared well and were able to ask interesting and very pertinent questions. They listened carefully to the answers given by our local councillors and I am certain benefitted greatly from the advice they were given on how to work towards getting their ideas implemented.”
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Martin Betts Labour Party local campaign co-ordinator
Labour Party member Martin Betts lives in Southborough and has long been active in local politics. He retired after a long career in the Civil Service, where his last job at the Department for Work and Pensions was in communications. He qualiﬁed at Leicester University in human resources and training and development. The Times also publishes regular opinions from Conservatives and Lib Dems and members of the Green Party
Rising ticket prices is a great train robbery EARLIER in December the rail industry announced that train fares in Britain will rise by an average of 3.4 per cent in January. Since the Conservatives came to power rail fares will have gone up by 32 per cent - more than two times faster than wages. At a time of rising prices and stagnant wage growth commuters travelling from Tunbridge Wells to London face increases of £160 to their annual season tickets, taking the fare from £4,484 to £4,644. An annual season ticket from Tonbridge will increase by £144 up from £4,088 to £4,232. This newspaper reported that the journey from Tunbridge Wells to London is one of the most expensive routes in the country. According to a TUC analysis, season tickets fares on UK city commuter routes can be up to six times more expensive than in France, Germany, Italy or Spain. Former transport secretary Lord
Adonis said that Brexit had pushed up rail fares in their highest increase in five years. “There is no doubting the impact of the plunge in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote on people’s spending power. Nobody voted to pay more just to get to work.”
ON TRACK Campaign to be launched
Punctuality Over the last 12 months the Press Association has reported that one in nine trains have failed to meet the rail industry’s punctuality target, meaning that commuter service trains have arrived more than five minutes late at terminating stations, while long distance trains are ten minutes late. According to passenger watchdog Transport Focus, only 47 per cent of passengers are satisfied with the value for money of train tickets. Andy McDonald, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “Commuters have been repeatedly told that higher fares are necessary to fund
investment, but promised investment has been cancelled and essential works have been delayed for years.” Rail campaigners argue that the formula for calculating fare increases is outdated. At the moment, the Government uses the Retail Price Index, which
over-estimates real inflation, rather than using the more widely used and recognised Consumer Price Index, which would save passengers money. They also point out that rail companies have failed to keep in touch with changes in the way we work, leaving
many part time workers discriminated against by the current ticketing system. More than 8 million people work part time, and 1.5 million work on zero hours contracts, increasing the need for more flexible ticketing. Decisions taken by Government are making rail travel unaffordable for many and illustrates the failure of privatisation which has resulted in consistently rising fares, less reliable services, compromised safety and complicated ticketing prices. Labour would stand up for passengers and bring our railways back into public ownership. We would deliver real improvement by capping fares, ensuring better and more reliable services, and making a programme of investment fit for the twenty first century. We would also encourage the expansion of public freight services that will help reduce road traffic, bringing the additional benefit of cleaner air quality. We will be campaigning for these rail improvements outside main stations on January 2.
WEST KENT’S ULTIMATE PROPERTY GUIDE – FREE EVERY WEDNESDAY A MUST-READ FOR THOSE LOOKING TO BUY, LET OR SELL WITH THE
Available in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge
Quite the character A much-loved family home with secondary cottage
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To suit your budget
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
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TAYLOR CLOSE, TONBRIDGE GUIDE PRICE £800,000-£850,000
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GUIDE PRICE A purpose-built, top floor, onebedroom apartment in a village location and in need of some modernisation. The property is on a 999-year lease from January 21, 1994. The flat boasts well-proportioned
rooms. The kitchen has a range of units and there is space for a fridge and freezer. The windows are double glazed, and the outside of the property has a communal area of garden. The ground rent and service charge are currently £87 per month. CONTACT Bracketts Tunbridge Wells 01892 533733 www.bracketts.co.uk
UNDER £350,000 NORFOLK ROAD, TONBRIDGE
£300,000-£325,000 This terraced cottage is situated in a popular location and comprises a sitting room, dining room, kitchen and two bedrooms with a family bathroom. The kitchen has a range of matching wall and base units and an
integrated fridge/freezer, as well as a washer/drier and mounted boiler. The two bedrooms have cupboards and radiators. Externally, the property has a garden to the rear which includes a small patio area, an area laid to lawn and panelled fencing. CONTACT Bracketts Tonbridge 01732 350503 www.bracketts.co.uk
To suit your budget
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
great properties by price range… UNDER £500,000 GUESTWICK, TONBRIDGE
£450,000 A semi-detached chalet-style house that offers flexible accommodation with four possible bedrooms, two of which are on the ground floor. There is a lounge, a kitchen and conservatory as well as a two potential bedrooms downstairs, which could alternatively be used as a study and dining room. There is a master suite and separate family bathroom. Outside there is parking and the property is is offered for sale chain-free. CONTACT Bracketts Tonbridge 01732 350503 www.bracketts.co.uk
UNDER £600,000 GREENLEAS, PEMBURY
£565,000 This detached home has large windows and a double-aspect main sitting room, as well as a living space with potential to extend (subject to the necessary consents), and double doors lead down to a dining room via two steps. There is a double main bedroom and two further interconnecting double rooms, which can be separated. Outside, the plot is triangular with both front and rear gardens, a timber garden store and driveway parking for several cars. CONTACT Barnes Kingsnorth Pembury 01892 822880 www.bkestateagents.com
UNDER £1MILLION OLD BARN CLOSE, TONBRIDGE
UNDER £900,000 TAYLOR CLOSE, TONBRIDGE
£800,000-£850,000 A well-presented home in a sought-after location towards the south of of the town. Traditionally designed, it has accommodation over three floors, which includes a living room with French doors to a rear garden, a kitchen/breakfast room with utility room, study, dining room and ground floor cloakroom. The master suite
includes a walk-in dressing room. Bedroom two also has an en-suite shower room, and there are three further bedrooms – one of which is on the third floor and in use as a guest room. Outside the property there is plenty of parking, a detached double garage and landscaped gardens with a patio area. CONTACT Bracketts Tonbridge 01732 350503 www.bracketts.co.uk
£850,000-£900,000 A large detached family home set in a small close of four properties. The house is well-presented throughout and comprises an entrance hall, living/ dining room, kitchen/breakfast room, formal lounge, study and utility room. To the first floor are three bedrooms, a further master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and a family bathroom. Outside, there is a good sized garden, detached double garage and driveway. CONTACT Bracketts Tonbridge 01732 350503 www.bracketts.co.uk
Royal Oak Cottage
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
AT A GLANCE ROYAL OAK COTTAGE HIGH STREET, MAYFIELD n Village location n Grade II listed n Oak wall and ceiling beams n Formal entrance porch n Entrance hall n Terracotta floor in entrance hall n Exposed brickwork n Sitting/dining room n High ceilings n Kitchen n Gas oven with 8-ring hob n Space for dishwasher and fridge/freezer n 3 double bedrooms n 1 bedroom with bay window n Bath/shower room n Space in bathroom for concealed washing machine n 2 allocated parking spaces n Gas-fired central heating n Approximately 111.5 sq m
ÂŁ445,000 Available for sale through Savills Tunbridge Wells 01892 50700 www.savills.co.uk
Delightful listed property in ideal location and bursting with charm
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
DESIGN WITH THE TIMES
A good chance to catch-up on some earlier projects
Having studied at Edinburgh College of Art and The Royal Academy of The Hague, John Bullock launched John Bullock Design in 2003. With offices in Tunbridge Wells High Street, John has won awards for his work and is committed to delivering the best outcomes for clients. www.johnbullockdesign.com
CONVERSION Turn a barn into a manageable home
During the last 18 months we have received a phenomenal response to our column, and the questions from our readers have been hugely wide-ranging. As 2017 comes to a close, we thought it would be a useful idea to take the opportunity to catch-up on our progress with some of our readers’ projects. To start with, we follow-up on our first enquiry, which came from Ralph Whitman, who – in June 2016 – wrote to us with the following question… YOUR QUESTION 1:
Dear Design with the Times, We live just outside Tunbridge Wells and have a beautiful listed farmhouse which is set in three acres. In the grounds there is an old barn and, although we’ve lived here for over 20 years, the barn has never been used except for the occasional party and as temporary storage when our children returned home from university. The barn is about 60 years old and it is approximately 150 square metres. It is in good condition and has quite an industrial look with a concrete frame and corrugated cladding. It was originally constructed for the farm, which no longer exists. We would like to downsize and wondered if it would be possible to obtain planning permission to convert the barn into a contemporary and more manageable home for ourselves. If so, how much might it cost to convert? Yours, Mr Ralph Whiteman
create a design that is site-specific. Here, the site appears to be fairly well screened and it is best to work with the building to express its industrial character. Externally, replace the corrugated roof with a welded zinc sheet system with an integrated gutter. The existing roof may well contain an element of asbestos, so it is advisable to arrange for a specialist to check this. On the walls, vertical oak cladding would add a tactile element. Over time, the zinc will dull to a ‘watering can’ grey and the walls will silver, and the building will blend into the landscape. Internally, vault the ceilings to express the form of the external envelope, and light can also be brought into the space by way of windows in the roof. Work with the internal floor area to create pure contemporary feeling spaces. Divide the barn to create two bedrooms, each with its own en-suite dressing and bathroom, then leave the larger area for an open-plan living area with kitchen, dining and sitting spaces.
OUR ANSWER: It is a very interesting time for planning opportunities of this type, and there is currently a window of opportunity to convert redundant farm buildings into dwellings. Over the past year, we have been successful in obtaining planning permission for several similar projects, however, there are a number of principal requirements that need to be fulfilled: The building must be redundant The building must be of sound structural
condition The building should be able to be converted without significant extension The development must not harm the building’s character The access, car parking and residential cartilage must not harm the character of the countryside The conversion would meet an identified local need for housing With a sensitive design scheme, your barn would appear to meet this criteria, and it would certainly be worth pursuing. With any design, we always feel it is important to work with the structural style of the building and also its setting to
DESIGN Make sure your build meets specific criteria
A formal planning application would be necessary. With this submission, an ecological assessment would be required that would need to be undertaken by a specialist who would visit site to establish if there is evidence of protected species in habitation, such as bats or barn owls. If there is, it doesn’t stop development, but measures would need to be put in place to accommodate these. For example, the ecologist might suggest bat or owl boxes on the outside of the building. It would also be necessary to employ the services of a structural engineer to assess the structure and confirm that the building is in sound structural condition and can be converted without significant remedial works. Once planning permission is granted, it will last for three years, and if at any time you formally commence works the permission will be retained in perpetuity. It is quite difficult to cost the project at this early stage and, after planning is granted, detailed
drawings would need to be prepared and a formal tender process undertaken. As a guide, we are currently seeing tender costs for this type of work returning between £1,750 and £2,250 per metre, depending upon level of specification. If we took the midway price, the conversion costs are likely to be somewhere in the region of £300,000, but you would also need to factor in costs for services and finishes in addition to this, and also VAT. You should be eligible for a reduced VAT rate of 5% for conversion of a farm building to form a dwelling, but check this with your accountant.
SO… WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Ralph Whiteman: After such a positive response to our enquiry, we felt comforted to move forward and commence the planning process. As advised, we also employed the services of an ecologist to inspect the building and he found signs of a bat roost that slightly delayed the process as we needed to obtain a migration
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
survey. During this survey, which consisted of our ecologist joining us one evening to, as he put it, ’watch the wildlife’, it was very interesting, and we discovered that there were only a very few bats in residence. Our expert recommended that two bat boxes be installed to offer a new roost in order that works to convert the barn could be undertaken. We took on board the proposals recommended, even a zinc roof and timber cladding, which is more contemporary than we ever thought we would be, and in July this year planning permission was granted for our new home, which is incredibly exciting. We have used the past few months to really get into the design of the internal spaces, and it’s been a hugely enjoyable process to consider all aspects
YOUR QUESTION 2:
Dear Design with the Times, We live near to Pembury and have a detached house in a countryside location. It’s a good family home. We’ve been here for about 15 years and we are very happy here. We have an ageing parent who lives on her own in a nice flat in Tunbridge Wells. While she is reasonably fit and well, she has recently expressed a desire to move in with us. This could work very well as it would be good for her to have some company, be part of the family and ultimately we could keep a closer eye on her and be there in case we are needed. We have three children, two of whom are still living at home. While we would have space in the house, we would prefer there to be some separation and independence for both. We wondered if it would be possible to build some form of annexe for her? We are also desperate for a new garage, as our old concrete-framed one is falling down. We thought the two could be combined to form an annexe over a garage, which could be on our driveway, and then give completely separate access to the annexe. We would welcome your thoughts and advice. Yours sincerely, George and Emma Smith OUR ANSWER: This is a question we’re often asked and, in short, annexe accommodation is usually supported by the local authority. It’s a good and sustainable
of how we live and how we would like to live in the future. Although we are trying to rationalise our possessions and downsize, we have found some really good solutions for storage by building in cupboards that will keep our spaces clear and clean. In particular, we have been fascinated with the lighting design and trying to understand how the spaces might work at different times of the day and year, and how they will be significantly improved with light. We have chosen our kitchen and flooring, and the project is currently out at tender with prices due back mid-January. Then works can commence. We hope to be settled into the barn by Christmas 2018 – come and see us then! way of living and looking after our aged relatives, and thus common sense usually prevails. A planning application will be required for this proposal. In planning terms, an annexe usually needs to be subservient to, and reliant upon, the principal dwelling to gain approval. Locating it above the garage is a good idea as it would create one building and form of mass, which should get the support of the planning department. It would also be more cost-effective to build than two separate structures. The only issue with an annexe at first floor level to consider is that if your elderly relative becomes frail and unable to use the stairs, access to and from could prove difficult, albeit a stairlift could easily and relatively cost-effectively be installed. A traditional timber-framed structure with weatherboard elevations and a clay tile roof would sit well within the countryside location and, as ever, the choice of materials is key to making the building sit well within its environment. It’s well worth taking the time to look at lots of options of tiles, boarding and brick, and to consider the colours of the windows and doors. It ultimately pays dividends. We always recommend getting samples of each and placing them together before making an order, although sometimes this can be difficult when quick decisions are needed by the contractor. Here, a local and new handmade clay tile with oak weatherboard and maybe an off-white woodwork would sit well. It’s also worth considering the colour of the driveway and materials. Gravel is always a firm favourite, and it can be rolled into hot tar or
TRADITIONAL Timber-framed structure
otherwise embedded into a resin bond. Internally, the space for the annexe can be created quite simply with a bedroom, en suite, openplan sitting room and kitchenette. In the en suite, it is definitely a good idea to look into a wet room system for the floor to create a level surface without steps for ease of use. The bedroom could have a number of built-in wardrobes. Storage will be important in a small space like this. In the sitting room, the kitchenette could be compact and house the basics for day-today living as it is likely that your mother will share meals with you on a weekly basis – the advantage of living with family. It is certainly worth looking around at companies who provide traditional timber-framed buildings and obtaining some costings for construction. Depending upon the level of finish and ultimately size, a structure of this type is likely to cost anything between £50,000 and £100,000.
SO WHAT HAPPENED NEXT? Emma Smith: Soon after writing into the Times, it became quite important that my mother moved quickly as her health took a slight turn for the worse. In order to accommodate her quickly, we cleared out our dining room and set it up as a bed-sitting room and moved her in. We then agonised what we should do next and what would be the best for her and for our family. It was quite a shock, but all three generations came together to fix it. I am relieved to say that my mother’s health
significantly improved after she was given the all clear from test results, and in July we submitted a planning application for an annexe building. Having given it a great deal of thought, we decided it would be best to build the annexe on one level and without stairs. We also felt that it was important to have the house linked in order that we could have 24-hour access, both ways, instead of separating it completely. It’s amazing how a health scare can make you rethink how everything in the family works. So, our house and the annexe will be connected by way of a shared boot and utility room. We designed it to look like a small weatherboarded barn, linked with a simple glass structure. We submitted the application in June, and it was approved in early September. We managed to pull together all the detail for the construction during the application process and had a specialist timber-frame company ready to commence works as soon as the application was approved (or at least within two weeks). Project planning was key. The ground works were complete within two weeks. The frame was up and weathered in with tiles and boarding by the end of October. We are now finishing the internal spaces, and a small kitchenette should be fitted next week. Everything is almost complete. We hope to move my mother in for Christmas so we can all enjoy a festive dinner in our old dining room. Thank you for your advice, it was very much appreciated and timely. The information you provided was invaluable in finding our ideal solution to our worries. ANNEXE A simple one bedroom flat with en suite
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
AT A GLANCE HUNTERS LAKE STREET, MAYFIELD n Entrance hall n Sitting room n Dining room n Kitchen/breakfast room n Study n Conservatory n Utility room n 2 cloakrooms n Master bedroom suite n 3 further bedrooms (one en suite) n Family bathroom n Gardens and grounds n Pond and stream n Fields and woodland n Detached triple car port Outbuildings: n Garden store/workshop n Barn n Stables n Greenhouse and potting shed The Cottage:
Set in around 25 acres of lovely gardens in an idyllic rural position
Room to roam in a character home with additional cottage
n Entrance hall n Sitting room n Dining room/study n Kitchen n 2 ground floor bedrooms n Family bathroom n Principal bedroom n Shower room n Garden with sheltered terrace n About 25.22 acres in total
ÂŁ2,250,000 Available for sale through Savills Tunbridge Wells 01892 50700 www.savills.co.uk
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Get on track with your health this New Year With the season of over-indulgence coming to an end, it’s time to start looking ahead to the New Year. With staying in shape being the number one New Year’s resolution made, there is no better time than January to join a gym and start your year right. We’ve spoken to two popular gyms in the area about the ways in which they can help you take the first steps towards a healthier you… Fit4Less, Tunbridge Wells Enterprise Centre, North Farm Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 3DR 01892 804007 www.F4L.com/tunbridge-wells What is your ethos as a gym? Everything we do at Fit4Less is about making real fitness gains accessible to everyone. This means that the gym is not only affordable but also has a warm, friendly and welcoming environment that is never intimidating. We have a good team here ready to help you reach your goals. What facilities do you have on offer for your clients? We’ve a huge range of high quality equipment
STRETCH YOURSELF Visit the gym regulary
and a very spacious feel. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, improve cardiovascular fitness or tone up, there are many different ways to progress and we will work with you to find you the right mix that keeps it fresh and motivating. What in particular makes you the ideal gym to join in 2018? Our showers are always hot! Cleanliness is a top priority throughout and we always keep our gyms to a high standard. Also, we keep things very affordable – you can pick up a coffee from us for £1 a cup. Our membership starts at just £20 a month and we have some of the best instructors you could find for our various fitness classes. We offer Bodypump, Zumba, Spin (in our dedicated studio), Boxercise, Yoga etc. The camaraderie of being in a class environment always helps you go further. We also have our Personal Trainers on hand to offer advice. Massage, beauty and tanning services are also on offer.
TM Active, Tonbridge The Slade, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1HR 01732 367449 www.tmactive.co.uk/locations/ tonbridge-pool What is your ethos as a gym? We offer world-class Technogym cardio and resistant equipment as well as over 60 instructor-led group exercise classes. We also take pride in the fact that we’ve always got Fitness Consultants on hand to provide support and advice to help you meet any goals. What facilities do you have on offer for your clients? Included in our world-class equipment, we also have indoor and outdoor pools as well as our spa at the Tonbridge swimming pool. Our array of facilities means you can keep your workouts fun, fresh and challenging – membership includes access to all of the above, plus use of the facilities at Larkfield Leisure Centre. Firstly, we’ve got our state of the art gym with an amazing range of market-leading Technogym cardiovascular and resistance equipment – the cardio kit here is all fitted with new utility screens that provides customers with their own touch ID personalised entertainment, fitness tracking and workouts. There’s a
full range of free weights and plate-loaded weights on the main floor, as well as a dedicated Free Weights Room on the ground floor. We also have Fitness Consultants whose job it is to help you attain your goals and reach your potential. As a member, you will get a personalised fitness programme which is regularly updated and your own free Technogym mywellness account. You’ll also be part of an eight week Commit 2 Success programme – designed to suit your lifestyle and help you get the most out of your membership! What in particular makes you the ideal gym to join in 2018? We’ve got over 60 group exercise classes, taking place seven days a week, which means we really pride ourselves on providing something suitable for any age and fitness level. Choose from aerobic classes to holistic classes, from high impact classes to classes designed to encourage flexibility. As well as offering pay-as-you-go use of our facilities, our membership packages are extensive enough that you are bound to find something to suit your lifestyle. On top of all this, we also have our new Technogym SKILLROW, the first gym rowing machine capable of improving anaerobic power, aerobic capacity and neuromuscular abilities in a single solution.
Food & Drink
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Be the host with the most this New Year’s Eve See 2018 in true style by hosting a delicious dinner party. Queen of the kitchen Mary Berry shows you how... INSTEAD of going out on December 31 and having to queue up for drinks or squeeze a group of your friends around a table in a busy, overpriced restaurant why not throw your own impressive end of year soirée instead? One of Britain’s favourite cooks, Mary Berry, suggests using the finest ingredients you can get your hands on to impress your guests’ palates. For a New Year’s Eve to remember how about serving a scallop starter followed
by a traditional Beef Wellington. Both dishes look simply amazing when served at a beautifully decorated table – think glimmering votive candles, polished glassware and matching crockery – and taste just as good. So eschew a stressed and expensive New Year’s Eve out and about by inviting a group of close friends or family to feast on this delicious dinner worthy of any top flight restaurant.
SCALLOPS WITH CHEESE SAUCE Serves 4 Ingredients n 8 scallops, with 4 shells if possible n 150 ml (¼ pint) water n 4 tbsp medium dry white wine n 1 bay leaf n Salt and black pepper n Lemon wedges and chopped
coriander, to garnish
Mornay sauce ingredients n 45 g (1 ½ oz) butter n 3 tbsp plain flour n 4 tbsp single cream n 60 g (2 oz) Gruyère cheese,
Method 1. Cut each scallop into 2–3 pieces. Put the measured water, wine, and bay leaf into a small pan, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and add the scallops. 2. Poach for 1 minute or until the scallops are just tender when tested with the tip of a knife. Lift out the scallops with a slotted spoon, strain the cooking liquid, and reserve. 3. Make the Mornay sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan, add the flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the reserved
cooking liquid, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, and stir in the cream and half of the grated cheese. Taste for seasoning. 4. Stir the scallops into the sauce, divide among the shells, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. 5. Place the filled shells under a hot grill, 7 cm (3 in) from the heat, for 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the sauce is golden and bubbling. Garnish with lemon wedges and chopped coriander.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Food & Drink
BEEF WELLINGTON bowl and leave to cool completely. 4. Add the liver pâté to the mushroom and onion mixture, season with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine. 5. Wrap the beef and pâté mixture in the pastry (see method below). 6. Bake at 220°C (200°C fan, Gas 7) for Serves 8 45 minutes or until the pastry is crisp Ingredients and golden. Cover with foil after 30 n 1.5 kg (3 lb) beef fillet, trimmed, tied minutes to prevent the pastry n Salt and black pepper becoming too brown. Leave to stand n 2 tbsp sunflower oil for about 10 minutes, then slice and n 45 g (1 ½ oz) butter serve with the gravy. n 1 small onion, finely chopped n 250 g (8 oz) flat mushrooms, Individual Beef Wellingtons method finely chopped 1. Cut the raw beef into eight slices. n 175 g (6 oz) smooth liver pâté 2. Brown the slices in a frying pan, n 400 g (13 oz) ready-made puff pastry cool, then wrap each one in pastry n 1 egg, beaten with a little of the pâté mixture. n Thin mushroom gravy, to serve 3. Bake for 25–30 minutes. (see tip below) Wrapping the beef in pastry method Method 1. Roll out 300 g (10 oz) of the pastry to 1. Season the beef with black pepper. a 30 x 40 cm (12 x 16 in) rectangle. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add Spread half of the pâté mixture down the beef, and cook over a high heat the middle, leaving a 10 cm (4 in) until browned all over. border on each side. 2. Put the beef fillet in a roasting tin 2. Remove the string from the beef and and cook in a preheated oven at 220°C place the beef on the pâté mixture. Cover with remaining pâté mixture. (200°C fan, Gas 7) for 25 minutes for 3. Brush the pastry border with beaten rare beef, 35 minutes for medium, or egg. Fold the short sides of the pastry 40 minutes for well-done. Leave to over the beef. cool completely. 4. Fold over the long ends and turn the 3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in the parcel over. Brush with beaten egg. frying pan, add the onion and Roll out the remaining pastry, and cut mushrooms, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened. Increase the into strips, 5 mm (¼ in) wide. Arrange heat to high, and cook until the excess in a lattice pattern on top of the pastry, then glaze the strips with beaten egg. moisture has evaporated. Turn into a
Inside a puff pastry case is a succulent piece of prime beef and a rich stuffing of liver pâté and mushrooms. The pastry locks in all the juices and ensures none of the wonderful flavours are lost. Serve with a mushroom and red wine gravy.
PHOTO: C. Georgia Glynn Smith
Mushroom gravy Melt 30 g (1 oz) butter in a saucepan. Add 1 finely chopped shallot and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add 250 g (8 oz) sliced mushrooms and cook gently for 5 minutes. Pour in 300 ml (1/2 pint) beef stock, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, and salt and black pepper to taste
Recipes courtesy of Mary Berry’s Complete Cookbook, published by DK and priced £30.00. Available from all good bookshops and www.DK.com
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Raise your glasses to these sparkling performers UNDER £9: Gleaming Spanish Jewel for big gatherings The Society’s Cava Reserva Brut NV, Spain (£8.25, The Wine Society) If you are looking for a satisfying dry sparkling wine made by the traditional method, with extended lees ageing (30 months), then try this. At the price, few sparklers exhibit as much aptitude or bite and this clever bottle has both. Sophisticated and finessed, with petite, persistent, creamy bubbles, appley notes and a toasted brioche depth, this is a cultured wine for a very competitive amount. The cost of a society lifetime share is £40 and you get £20 off your first order. For more information call 01438 741177.
UNDER £20: Superlative bargain supermarket Champagne
Co-op Les Pionniers Brut Champagne (£16.99, Co-op) This rich and detailed own-label, made by Régis Camus at Piper Heidsieck, is the perfect aperitif for kick-starting your New Year celebrations, with its lingering biscuity, vanilla honey, Granny Smith apple and Mirabelle plum flavours. Half Pinot Noir, it’s just the ticket for smoked salmon, canapés and fishy hors d’oeuvres. Utterly exceptional value.
UNDER £30: High Street Show-Stopping Party Magnum Choice Philizot Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Champagne Magnum (£29.99, Aldi, 1.5L) If you’re driving to friends for New Year’s Eve, bring a magnum, because they always look princely and celebratory. Made exclusively from Chardonnay, you get some delicious apple blossom, brioche and crisp lemon-zest fruit from a very fine fizz. It’s very hard to ignore this bottle if you are expecting a crowd. Great aperitif but only available in store only.
Last year we consumed nearly 35 million gallons of sparkling wine. So which bottles of bubbly should we buy to toast the New Year? Times’ drinks editor James Viner rounds up some fabulous fizz to see you through this year’s celebrations
UNDER £60: Opulent Vintage Champagne Masterpiece
Louis Roederer Brut Vintage 2009 Champagne (£48-£55, Tanners/ Champagne Direct/Hedonism/ The Wine Society) This exceptional 70:30 Pinot Noir and Chardonnay blend embarrasses many prestige cuvées and really is a fabulous price for an outstanding, characterful Champagne from a venerated big house. It’s deeply-flavoured and intense, exuding class from start to finish with orchard/red fruits, buttered lemon brioche and grilled almonds. Complete and compelling with a taffeta texture and long, bone dry finish, the scope of this Champagne is truly epic.
UNDER £80: Dazzling Iconic Grower-Producer Rosé Champagne Egly-Ouriet Brut Rosé Grand Cru NV Champagne, (£66.95-£75.95, The Vinorium/Whisky Exchange/Lea & Sandeman) The Champagne choice over Christmas/New Year’s Eve bewilders with discounts and promotions galore. But remember: a far better deal than a nameless brand is an excellent grower Champagne like this, made by those who grow the grapes. Truly seductive and highly distinctive, this racy and suave two-thirds Pinot Noir-based sparkler, topped up with Chardonnay, has a chalky texture, minerally acidity and ripe strawberry, cranberry and cherry fruit. It’s nothing short of sensational.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
REEF ENCOUNTER Kimbe Bay has ‘vibrant, health, diversity and beauty’
WINGED WONDERS Birding tours are becoming popular
Cast under a spell Kimbe Bay in Papua New Guinea was one of the last places where conservationist Jacques Cousteau dived. Sarah Marshall explores below the surface of Walindi
N AND out. It should be a natural, straightforward process; something I’ve been practising all my life. But right now, only centimetres below the sun-dappled surface of the Bismarck Sea, I’m finding it hard to breathe. Despite kneeling on the sandy bottom, among the listless sea cucumbers and plump Persian-blue starfish, I’m feeling uncomfortably out of my depth. Sucking a cocktail of nitrogen and oxygen through an aqualung is an alien experience, although for dive master Jacques Cousteau, who invented the apparatus in the 1940s, it was probably easier than inhaling air. This year marks 20 years since the death of the French marine doyen who has inspired generations to explore and protect our oceans, so it’s fitting I should be making my first dive at a site where Cousteau enjoyed one of his last. Cradled within the sheltered northern curve of New Britain, Papua New Guinea’s largest island, Kimbe Bay is one of the most biodiverse marine areas on the planet and forms part of the western Pacific’s Coral Triangle. Cousteau’s ship, Calypso, anchored in these kaleidoscopic waters in 1987, and three decades later I’m discovering why the diver famously proclaimed: “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
Accompanied by PADI instructor Liz, who is leading my taster dive, I’m exploring the underwater wall at Restorf Island, a cluster of vegetation sprouting from the sea, with stride-in access to its coral gardens. The wonders are plentiful: Ethereal angelfish float through the brittle fingers of scarlet gorgonians, upstaging a shoal of sour-faced trevallies who sulk into the abyss. In the crevices, Christmas tree worms timidly retract their tinselly bristles, and barrel sponges the size of chimneys spew a pick’n’mix of humbugs and other delights.
‘Ethereal angelfish float through the fingers of scarlet gorgonians’ Suspended in this fluid environment, I’m clumsy and weightless. All perspective is skewed. Liz, a trained marine biologist, uses a whiteboard and hand gestures to identify species, and a magnifying glass for showcasing smaller critters.
The story of a dream resort Such biodiversity inspired Australian couple Max and Cecilie Benjamin to open a dive resort at Kimbe Bay in 1983. Set against a backdrop of volcanic peaks in a palm oil plantation, the rustic but modern Walindi Plantation Resort features FLOAT YOUR BOAT Walindi Resort is set against a backdrop of volcanic peaks
bungalows with kitchenettes spread along a jungle path. Since learning to dive there, Cecilie and her husband have plotted around 60 dive sites (including Restorf Island) and professional divers and underwater photographers from all over the world regularly visit. Many of their award-winning images decorate the resort’s restaurant, and dive boats are filled with strobes and coiled plastic contraptions weirder than some of the specimens lurking in the deep. Many divers bring their own gear (Air Niugini has a 15kg per person dive luggage allowance) but excellent equipment can also be rented from the lodge. Alternatively, there’s the option to snorkel in Kimbe Bay’s warm, clear waters praised by one reef scientist for having a unique combination of ‘vibrant health, diversity and beauty’. A 10-minute boat ride from Walindi, I’m gliding along a sheer vertical ledge known as the Hanging Gardens. There’s no need to go deep: Tangles of rope sponge trail from overhangs and cantankerous clown fish fiercely guard the writhing walls of their anemone castles. Several stations are dotted along the wall, part of a study into the hierarchy of clown fish communities which operate a strict 20 per cent size differentiation when selecting residents for anemones, the only place they can safely survive. It’s one of the many projects supported by Mahonia Na Dari, a research institute set up by Max Benjamin and inspired by Cousteau. Translated as ‘guardian of the sea’, the centre also aims to educate local community about the marine riches on their doorstep.
Birding tours are taking flight The institute also supports several terrestrial projects, and birding tours are a growing arm of the Walindi business. Driving along tarmac roads past regimented
rows of thick-stemmed splaying palms, I find it hard to imagine any natural vegetation remains; much of New Britain has been cultivated, mainly by Malaysian and Indonesian firms. But birds are adapting and even capitalising on their new environment, explains Joseph, a fast-talking and jovial local man who leads birding tours. A prime example is the golden masked owl, an elusive night creature which disappeared from this area in the 70s but has been seen occasionally since 2015. “They come to catch the mice and rats feasting on rotting palm fruit,” explains Joseph as we weave past dumper trucks piled high with the blood-red bunches, their pulp exuding a sickly sweet, overripe smell. But despite a silver bulb illuminating the sky, our owls remain masked by darkness; the full moon is apparently a hindrance to their hunting. Once a commercial diver, Joseph now spends all his time on land. “I got cooked,” he sighs, shaking his head – a reference to the dreaded bends. “I had 3,000 dives in my log book but I probably did many more.”
Ever heard of a megapode? Along with tracking rare owls, Joseph also guides walks to find nicobar pigeons (a close relative of the dodo) and intriguingly named megapodes. The latter reside in the Garu Wildlife Management Area, a section of protected primary forest that hints at how New Britain might once have looked. Using a machete to slice through layer upon layer of thick ferns and spiralling vines, Joseph clears our path to a thermal lake and hot springs where megapodes incubate eggs in the warm ground. But any images of prehistoric fauna are quickly banished when I catch site of the Melanesian scrubfowl (as it’s more commonly known) which actually resembles a chicken. Despite conservation efforts, these birds are still hunted by the local community and their eggs collected for food. It’s a sobering reminder that we’re in a developing country where economic demands can be at odds with environmental needs. Yet there is hope. Walindi is trying to guard the island’s treasures and preserve a place that Cecilie once described as ‘our undiscovered universe’, keeping the GPS co-ordinates of their dive sites under wraps. But in a world where Cousteau complained ‘water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans’, it won’t be easy. The only option is to take a deep breath – and dive in.
HOW TO GET THERE ■ Reef and Rainforest Tours (reefandrainforest.
co.uk; 01803 866965) offer the 14-day Natural History Highlights Tour of Papua New Guinea, which features three nights at Walindi, from £7,185 per person including international flights via Singapore.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
FIRST DRIVE: Mercedes-Benz reckon they have found a new niche in the pick-up truck segment. Darren Cassey heads to Wales to see if it’s a niche worth filling
STUNNING VIEWS By pick-up standards the interior is among the best
WHAT IS IT?
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
THERE aren’t many niches left to fill in the automotive world these days – we have SUVs that are styled like coupes and off-road spec city cars, for example. However, Mercedes-Benz reckon they have found a new one – the premium pick-up truck. Their argument is that more and more people are buying pick-ups for personal use, so there’s a market for a truck that’s a bit less utilitarian than what’s currently out there. With almost a thousand pre-orders in the nine months since it was revealed, Mercedes might be on to something...
At launch, there’s one 2.3-litre diesel engine in two states of tune. The lower-powered X220d model has 161bhp, while the X250d has 188bhp. We got behind the wheel of the latter, finding it to be surprisingly slow in everyday driving. It’s fine once you’re up to speed, but getting there is a genuine effort. For those who want to use the X-Class off-road, it proved more than torquey enough to get the truck out of trouble on a particularly boggy 4x4 course. Fortunately, a more powerful version is on the way – a high-torque diesel V6 with 255bhp and a monstrous 550Nm of torque. It should be the pick of the bunch when it goes on sale in mid-2018.
WHAT’S NEW? Rather than build a new vehicle from the ground up, Mercedes-Benz signed a deal with Nissan to use the platform for the Navara pick-up. That means the engine available at launch is from the Japanese manufacturer, albeit with new software, while the transmission and four-wheel-drive system are also carried over. What is different is what makes the X-Class stand out, though. The exterior styling is sleeker than the Navara, while Mercedes’ suspension has given the pick-up a much better ride quality. The interior’s a massive step up, too, though some switchgear is reused.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? Typically, when driving pick-up trucks, you have to make a concession for the fact they’re set up for having heavy loads in the back, leading to an often jiggly ride. However, Mercedes have done incredibly well to tame this, leading to a best-in-class ride quality. This is thanks largely to two things: New suspension and a wider track. Because the wheels are further apart, it helps make the X-Class more stable than the Navara, while Mercedes’ road-tuned suspension helps smooth out the tarmac ahead of you.
FACTS AT A GLANCE: MODEL AS TESTED: Mercedes-Benz X-Class Power ENGINE: 2.3-litre diesel POWER: 188bhp TORQUE: 450Nm MAX SPEED: 109mph 0-60mph: 11.6 seconds MPG: 35.8 EMISSIONS: 207g/km PRICE: £34,100 (excluding VAT)
It’s impressive in corners too, resisting too much body roll, though with slow steering it’s best to keep your speed in check, otherwise you could find yourself sawing at the wheel in tighter turns.
HOW DOES IT LOOK? The rear two-thirds of the X-Class are quite forgettable – there’s only so much you can do with the traditional pick-up shape. However, Mercedes have worked wonders with the front end to give the truck a distinctive face. In a segment where most cars are defined by simple, rugged aesthetics, the X-Class brings a sense of sophistication. It’s a real head-turner, and many pick-up truck drivers along our test route in North Wales couldn’t help but take a look. Higher-spec Progressive and Power models get alloy wheels and shiny chrome, but if you go for the entry-level Pure trim you get steel wheels – perfect for those who want to make the most of the X-Class’s 4x4 abilities without damaging expensive alloys. The simple look doesn’t quite work
‘In a segment where most cars are defined by simple, rugged aesthetics, the X-Class brings a sense of sophistication. It’s a real head-turner’
with the smart front end but the Pure trim does have a slightly more function-overform ethos than the rest of the range.
WHAT’S IT LIKE INSIDE? The X-Class’s interior is a mixed bag. This is where the clash between Mercedes reputation for high-quality interiors struggles against its need to be functional in all weathers. By pick-up truck standards, it’s definitely up there with the best of them, with smart propeller-like air vents and a prominent infotainment screen. However, while the hard plastics used throughout might be normal for this segment, they feel slightly at odds with the premium image the X-Class is trying to portray. It’s best described as ‘premium for a pick-up truck’ but if you’re coming out of one of the German brand’s road cars you might get a bit of a shock. This is offset by comfortable seats and well-judged driving position, while ‘theatre-style seating’ in the back helps rear passengers’ view out the front.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE? The X-Class is well-equipped in all trims, but most private buyers will want to avoid the more ruggedly styled Pure trim. Opt for the top-spec Power trim instead and you’re looking at chrome detailing and body-coloured bumpers, 17-inch alloy wheels and LED lighting all round. Inside, black artificial leather and microfibre upholstery makes for extremely comfortable seating, while fully electrical adjustment makes it easy to get the seat in the perfect position. The entry-level model starts at £27,310 excluding VAT for commercial buyers, while the cost of a fully loaded Power model starts at £34,100. Private buyers will be looking at about £40,000 for the latter, which makes it a bit harder to stomach as you could get a GLC SUV at that price, enjoying better interior quality and better refinement.
VERDICT Compared with pick-up rivals, the Mercedes X-Class is a bit of a revelation to drive. The German car-makers have clearly spent a lot of time on ride refinement, giving the most car-like driving experience this segment has to offer. Those who are simply looking for family practicality would still be better served by an estate or SUV, but if the well-sized load bay appeals and you don’t want to give up interior creature comforts, the X-Class treads a fine line very well indeed. If you qualify for the commercial rate, it makes decent financial sense, too.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
new party make-up tricks to see you into the New Year
pend less time on your make-up and more time partying, says Katie Wright. With New Year’s eve fast approaching, we all want to look our best when the clock strikes midnight, but we don’t always have time for a full-on makeover throughout the rest of the year. In fact, a quick change of outfit and a zhuzh is often all we can hope for, which is why keeping it simple is your best bet when it comes to make-up. But simple doesn’t mean boring - far from it. Here are five speedy but stunning ideas that will transform your look from plain to party-tastic in no time at all.
2. Glitter lips A bit of sparkle never goes a miss this time of year, but rather than plonking it on your eyelids like everyone else, why not have a go at a dazzling glitter lip? Beauty Blvd’s two-step gloss and glitter kit is super-easy to apply and comes in a massive 19 shades, so you can find the perfect match whatever your style. Beauty Blvd Glitter Lips Ruby Slippers, £12.50, www.beautyblvd.com
1. Ombre lips If you didn’t get the fuller lips on your Christmas list, an ombre lip will help you achieve a pillowy-looking pout. If you’ve already got two favourite dark and bright red lipsticks, combine the pair, starting with the darker shade around the edges, or take the easy route with Smashbox’s Triple Tone lippies, available in four shades. Finish with clear gloss on top for a double dose of volume. Smashbox Be Legendary Triple Tone Lipstick in Berry Ombre, £17.50 Smashbox O-Gloss Intuitive Lip Gloss, £17, www.boots.com
3. Metallic eyes Shimmering eye make-up looks were all over the AW17 catwalks, worn with pared-black skin and nude lips – and there’s no sign of them toning it down for 2018! Take your cue from the models at Les Copains in Milan, who were given a wash of warm gold on their lids, or the Brandon Maxwell show, where cooltoned metallic shadows were layered to create a full-on foil effect (this looks particularly fab if you’re wearing velvet). Kiko Arctic Holiday Metal Eyeshadow in Frozen Gold and Mysterious Blue, £10.90 each from www.kikocosmetics.com
4. Glowy cheeks Ask any make-up artist and they’ll tell you that Kardashian-style contouring is really not a good look in real life (it was originally intended for editorial photo shoots, you see) but highlighter? They can’t get enough of the stuff, especially at Christmas. Impart a fairy-light glow by sweeping powder highlight over the very tops of your cheekbones with a fan brush (or use your fingertip if it’s cream highlight) and finish with a touch of peachy blush on the apples of your cheeks. Don’t go overboard though, you want a subtle Champagne sparkle, not a mega metallic shine. Zoeva Strobe Gel in Halo, £11, Cult Beauty, www.cultbeauty.co.uk
5. Feline eyeliner Attempting to draw a razor-sharp winged eyeliner look is not something you want to be doing when you haven’t got time to spare, but there is a quick-fix solution. Rimmel’s clever Wonder Wing has a slanted side so you can ‘stamp’ the wing straight on, while Lottie London’s felt-tip liners also come with shaped stamps on the other end of the pen, so you can dot festive stars, moons or musical notes around your eyes too. Rimmel Wonder Wing Eyeliner in Black, £5.99, Superdrug Lottie London Stamp Liner in Starry Eyed, £5.45, Superdrug
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
SUDOKU & JIGSAW SUDOKU 5
A B C D E F G H I J K L MNO P Q R S T U VWX Y Z 8
4 7 2
Numbers are substituted for letters in the crossword grid. Above the grid is the key with two letters solved. Try to complete the first few words to give you more letters, or look for a frequent number that might reveal a common letter. As you find letters, enter them in the key and into the grid. Cross off the letters in the A to Z list.
6 4 1 7
To complete Sudoku, fill the board by entering numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains every number uniquely.
4 9 5 2 8 6
5 8 5 2
In this Sudoku, the normal 3x3 boxes are now strangely odd shapes – but all the rules and logic of normal Sudoku apply. Fill the board by entering numbers 1 to 9 so that each row, column and box contains every number uniquely. Puzzle solutions will be published in a forthcoming issue
A H T R A U M M M C A S A N N A H I F I S L OM A U S T R O L Y M B E L I Z N T
B A N T U R
B J B O E U V R E U D O Q U O R U M U G E NOC H E T B X S L OW A M A Z E R L L S O I L T I S G E K E E P I N D E D N
7 2 8 5 1 4 6 9 3
6 9 5 3 7 8 2 4 1
1 4 3 9 6 2 7 8 5
2 1 6 4 3 9 5 7 8
3 8 9 7 2 5 1 6 4
5 7 4 6 8 1 9 3 2
4 3 7 1 5 6 8 2 9
6 8 7 1 3 5 2 9 4
9 7 1 6 4 2 8 5 3
8 6 1 2 9 3 4 5 7
9 5 2 8 4 7 3 1 6
8 6 9 4 7 3 5 2 1
5 1 2 3 8 6 7 4 9
7 5 4 9 2 1 6 3 8
3 9 5 2 1 8 4 7 6
2 4 3 8 6 7 9 1 5
1 2 6 5 9 4 3 8 7
4 3 8 7 5 9 1 6 2
© 2016 Syndicated Puzzles
DIFFICULTY RATING: ★★II
© 2016 Syndicated Puzzles, Inc.
LAST WEEK’S SOLUTIONS
DIFFICULTY RATING: ★★★★
© 2016 Syndicated Puzzles
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
FIND YOUR PERFECT JOB TODAY â&#x20AC;&#x201C; A MUST READ FOR THOSE LOOKING FOR WORK LOCALLY
OF TUNBRIDGE WELLS AND TONBRIDGE
Arts & Culture
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Young actors full of beans The panto season is over – oh no it isn’t thanks to The Talentz, a local youth theatre company, who are putting on their production of Jack and The Beanstalk this weekend at the EM Forster Theatre. Artistic director Debbie King tells the Times all about it… Tell us a little bit about your new Jack and The Beanstalk panto? We are very lucky to have the UK’s leading pantomime specialist, Simon Sladen on board. He has written the script for us and is our associate director. He has given our cast, who range from age 4 to 21, a greater understanding of the fabulous British tradition of panto. This is the second year he has been working with us and as a result the script is really tailor made for the cast. It is totally unique - we even have a tap dancing cow and talking beans! Why do you put your show on after Christmas? We are so lucky to have an amazing creative team who are in professional pantomimes themselves up until the New Year, and we think that doing ours after the traditional pantomime season enables the cast to spend the whole of the Christmas period with their families. How do you select your cast members? We hold a bootcamp audition weekend in September at the EM Forster Theatre in Tonbridge. During this there are free panto workshops with
Simon and at the same time we also hold the dance, ensemble and principal auditions. The whole weekend is open to everyone and over 200 local youths attended this year. How much rehearsal time do you manage and do you and the cast find it tough? We rehearse every Sunday afternoon in the lead up to the shows at the TN2 Centre, which is run by Tunbridge Wells Council, who have been amazing and so supportive. The cast have been fantastic and we have had lots of fun. It is hard to get it all done with one rehearsal a week but everyone has worked hard and we are all looking forward to the performances. They have also been handing out leaflets in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, carol singing in Sevenoaks and appeared on Tunbridge Wells Hospital Radio.
What do you think is so special about putting on Jack and The Beanstalk? It is one of the best-known traditional pantomimes with some great characters in and has scope for lots of pantomime magic. What do you like most about your job and why? I really enjoy the challenge of working with a full youth cast and being able to help each cast member get the most out of their character and experience. It’s very special to watch them gain confidence and make friends. We have the most amazing professional team guiding them through the whole process and giving them the benefit and knowledge of their expertise. I love the whole process of planning, preparing, casting, rehearsing and watching the show take shape. We are already planning our 2019 Pantomime! Do you get a lot of help with stage props and costumes? Our wardrobe mistress, Joy Bench works so hard making the majority of the costumes for the show, with lots of help from one of our parents: Judy Price. She is assisted by one of our cast members, 11 year old Leana Derrick, who is very interested in costume design so is
gaining experience. One of our parents is a professional artist and props maker, Kelly Hudson, and so she is kindly helping us. She is assisted by Ashley McCulloch, a local 17 year old art student who wants to gain experience whilst training to go into theatre or she might become a blacksmith. What will the audiences find enjoyable and special about this performance? Pantomime is magical and full of fun, the fact that it is a youth cast makes it special. The whole show is expertly accompanied by our brilliant professional live band under the musical supervision of Jack Bennett, who is currently Musical Director for Snow White at the Stag Theatre. It has a full professional set with lots of special effects and surprises. Do you get a lot of support from your local community and is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank? We are so lucky to have local support. Everyone from Tunbridge Wells Hospital Radio to Tunbridge Wells Council and Sainsbury’s, who let us leaflet their stores, have helped us. We must also thank The Original Tree Surgeons who have been very generous and sponsored our Beanstalk and all those who have advertised in our programmes. And we couldn’t produce the show without the parents. Jack and the Beanstalk is on at the EM Forster theatre from January 5 – 7 2018. Tickets cost £15 for adults and £12 for children. Group tariffs are also available. For more information see http://www. boxoffice.tonbridge-school.co.uk
Arts & Culture
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Creating a new home for artists Meet Simon Spare, a local estate agent but also a successful artist and recently turned art curator and gallery owner. Here he tells Eileen Leahy all about how he juggles selling properties with paintings… Simon, firstly please can you tell us a little bit about yourself? In 2009, my old school friend Matthew Peacock, who had, at that point, run Brooks Peacock in the High Street successfully for 11 years, asked me to come and work with him. I have been here ever since! On Matthew’s retirement earlier this year, I took on the premises and opened my own estate agency. I decided to name the new company after my late father, John Thompson Spare, former mayor and Council Leader of Tunbridge Wells. You launched your first art exhibition Debut recently, what gave you the idea to combine art with running an estate agency? My office, 52 High Street, is a big building and it was actually my partner, Anna Brice Cockland’s idea to use some of the space upstairs as an art gallery. We are both keen, exhibiting artists, who met during life classes on foundation course. We took different routes afterwards, I continued to work as an estate agent whilst painting in the evenings and being selected for the RBA shows at the Mall
of the empty wall-space of a new home - and there are some very talented makers out there who are finding it very hard to get themselves established. I feel that if we could bring these two worlds closer still, it would be greatly to the benefit of both.
ESTATE OF THE ART Simon Spare Galleries in London and the Affordable Art Fair. Anna graduated from Central St Martins and works on site-specific installation projects after receiving funding from the Arts Council. What is the ethos behind your gallery? Well opportunities for serious artists to exhibit in central Tunbridge Wells
have always been rather limited, and it struck us that with estate agency as our primary business, we could start a gallery - art@thompsonspare - without feeling some of the pressures of being solely reliant upon selling art. I think diversification in business makes sense in uncertain economic times. The worlds of property and art are not entirely unrelated - one thinks
Please can you tell us a little bit about the first exhibition and who is involved? Our inaugral show is rather appropriately called Debut, and features paintings by four artists - Anna Brice Cockland, Melanie Berman, Iaysha Salih and myself. We are all based locally, but have exhibited in London, nationally and abroad. Iaysha is a successful gallery-owner herself, who now works as an independent art consultant, sourcing high-end artworks for clients, whilst Melanie has degrees in both Fine Art and Fashion Design, and a burgeoning following on Instagram. Debut is definitely intended to be the first of a regular programme of shows and will hopefully run until the end of January next year.
What do you think of the current art scene in Tunbridge Wells? I’m afraid it feels a little under-developed at present. There is the Royal Tunbridge Wells Art Society, which has been established for a long time - my mother has been a member of it for 60 years – and then there are one or two independent galleries that sell good, individual work and other, more commercial ones mostly selling limited edition runs, but there is very little in between. Our aim is to bridge that gap, and to improve access for keen collectors and buyers to contact artists and their work. And of course to develop a marketplace for those artists to sell to. The current work ranges from £200 up to £2,500. Who would you cite as your artistic influences and why? It is impossible for an artist to develop their own voice without reference to the work of those that have gone before. My own spiritual home is inter-war Cornwall, specifically with the St Ives modernists, Ben Nicholson, Patrick Heron, Peter Lanyon and their contemporaries. But I would have been equally at home in New York at that time too, with abstract expressionists such as Franz Kline, Willem DeKooning and Mark Rothko. Whilst I have consciously tried over the years to keep my painting personal, I am sure I have stolen little bits from each of these artists! The art@thompsonspare gallery space is open from 10am until 5pm Monday to Saturday. Call 01892 531199 for further information.
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
SEVEN DAYS OF FESTIVE ACTIVITIES AT A GLANCE
WHATS ON WITH THE
Eileen Leahy Local events
>> SATURDAY Every day until January 1 there will be a Mince Pie Special on the Spa Valley Railway. Children only pay £1 to travel on the diesel and steam ended trains that chug up and down between Tunbridge Wells West and Eridge, where you’ll have the opportunity to see Santa’s sleigh just days after his busy gift giving tour and enjoy locally made mince pies whilst on board. For more information visit www.spavalleyrailway.co.uk There’s still time to see the Hayward Touring exhibition of screen-prints by Eduardo Paolozzi at the Tunbridge Wells Museum and Library. Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924–2005) was one of the pioneers of the pop art movement in the UK.
>> WEDNESDAY If you haven’t managed to catch it at the cinema then Star Wars The Last Jedi is showing today and tomorrow courtesy of the Moonlight Drive In Cinema at the Hop Farm. Screening times are at 6pm and 9.30pm. Tickets are priced at £25 per vehicle. If you’ve overdone it a little too much on the mince pies and mulled wine then how about getting into the great outdoors? Nothing could be more enjoyable than participating in one of Hever Castle’s Winter Walks. Wrap up warm and explore the glorious grounds of Anne Boleyn’s former home before heading inside and indulging in a hot drink. Open from 10.30am to 3pm, the ticket prices vary and are available to buy as singles or family packages. See www.hevercastle.co.uk for more details. >> THURSDAY Tis the season of the pantomime so if you’ve already seen the local offerings then why not head over to Sevenoaks where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is showing at the Stag Theatre every day until January 7. Starring CBBC’s Ed Petrie and 80s comic Bob Carolgees, of Spit the Dog fame, it’s a hugely enjoyable traditional panto with lots of great gags and fantastic sets. Tickets cost £26.50 and can be booked at www.stagsevenoaks.co.uk
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BRIDGE THE GAP Between Christmas and New Year at Hever Castle >> FRIDAY Bewl Water is another charming location for seasonal winter walks. Howard Mackenzie, the estate manager comments: “The area is a nature lover’s paradise with a mixture of water fowl – including grebes, herons and cormorants – along with hedgerow and field species of bird. The fields and woods surrounding the water are teeming with wildlife too, with deer often spotted in the quieter areas.” Entrance only costs £2 per vehicle. For more information see www.bewlwater.co.uk The breathtakingly beautiful Scotney Castle just outside Tunbridge Wells is another place to enjoy some winter walks over the festive period. Follow the festive family trail around the magical estate and then drop into the café and enjoy a warming drink. For entrance prices and opening times see www. nationaltrust.org.uk/scotneycastle
co.uk for further information. The Spa Hotel hosts its annual black tie gala evening from 7pm. The £125 per person price tag includes a delicious six course meal, live music >> SUNDAY from The Violet Jive, plenty of dancing and a glass One Warwick Park promises to make December of Champagne at the stroke of midnight. For 31st 2017 one to remember by offering a lavish further details see www.spahotel.co.uk New Year’s Eve tasting menu with champagne. The Mount Edgecumbe is hosting a New Year’s Priced £95 the evening includes eight courses of Eve celebration with a difference. Mad Hatter’s delectable delights, live music and plenty of Midnight Tea runs from 7pm until 1am and festive fun until 1am. See www.onewarwickpark. promises to be a fun party. Tickets cost £45 each and THREE’S COMPANY include ‘Drink Me’s’ and ‘Eat The Assembly Hall’s Me’s’ as well as live music Aladdin cast courtesy of a ‘Mad DJ’. >> MONDAY Today’s the final day to visit the hugely popular pop-up ice rink in Calverley Grounds. Ticket prices start at £10.50 for adults and £7 for children. To book visit www.tunbridgewells atchristmas.com Trinity theatre is offering a seasonal antidote to a traditional pantomime courtesy of its production of The Wizard of Oz. Running until January 3 it features a talented cast which includes Scarlett Leigh Fawcett as Dorothy. Tickets are priced at £20. To book visit www.trinitytheatre.net
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
TWO OF A KIND The Wizard of Oz
PARTY ON THE PANTILES
Paul Dunton Live music
>> TUESDAY If you haven’t seen it yet then you’ve just got one more day to catch the last couple of days of Aladdin pantomime at the Assembly Hall. On until January 3 it stars CBBC star Mark Rhodes, Britain’s Got Talent impressionist Jess Robinson and Eastenders star Michael Greco - oh yes it does! Tickets start from £10 and are available from www.assemblyhalltheatre.co.uk The first of this year’s Secret Art Parties happens this evening from 7.30 - 10.30 pm at Jean’s Bar on St John’s Road and tonight’s theme is Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. On once a month these events are aimed at those who love painting or simply fancy the idea of spending an evening daubing a canvas with paint. No talent or experience is necessary – just enthusiasm! Tickets cost £30 per person and include drinks and nibbles. For more events visit www.secretartparties.co.uk
PICK OF THE WEEK HUGMANY
The Pantiles December 31 7pm Over the past few years the Hugmany New Year’s Eve event has been a very popular one for those wanting to party but also do their bit for charity. Held on The Pantiles there’s plenty of live music, food stalls and entertainment to enjoy. A suggested donation of £10 per adult is politely requested by the organisers in order to benefit local charities, who will receive any profits from donations made on the night of the event.
The must-read guide to what’s on musically for the week ahead… www.paulduntonandguests.com
THE GREY LADY MUSIC LOUNGE
THE BEAU NASH INN
The Pantiles Doors 7.15pm, entry £6/£7, websites www.pdag.co. uk + www.thegreylady.co.uk
Mount Ephraim Open all day, free entry, music from 8.30pm till late
WEDNESDAY Mangetout Recovery, Andy Twyman, Youth THURSDAY The Secret Crowd, Ant & Fie, Chasing Shadows, Infrared FRIDAY Megan Jordan, Becky Briggs, Kyla and Nat SATURDAY James McMaster, Jack Clarke, Top Cat Collective SUNDAY New Year’s Eve Party (booking only) THE TUNBRIDGE WELLS FORUM
London Road Event information at www.twforum.co.uk
FRIDAY The Gallerys + The Simmons Brothers Project + Basement Cat + JellyFish SATURDAY Local & Live Christmas Party: Dull Knife + Sara Tonin + The Long Faces + The Ackerleys SUNDAY New Year’s Eve Boogie Nights Special THE KING WILLIAM IV
Pembury Open all day, free entry, music from 5pm
FRIDAY Acoustic Valium Project Re- launch featuring: Can’t Be Committed, Freedom Leveller, Kay, Dickie Ticker, Simon Smith Ukelear Fallout, 8 Car Attach, Alcatraz Blues
SUNDAY New Year’s Eve with Grosvenor Road THE ROYAL OAK PUB
Prospect Road Open all day, free entry, music from 8.30pm till late
SATURDAY Spoilage THE SPA HOTEL
Mount Ephraim Full details at www.spahotel.co.uk
SUNDAY New Year’s Gala Dinner with live music from The Violet Jive 8 CAR ATTACH
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Izzy is heading for the top with glory-hunting England
RAPID PROGRESS Izzy Cloke bowls for England’s development pathway against the Academy
By Andy Tong CRICKET: IZZY CLOKE of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club has been called up to join the England Women’s Senior Academy squad. This latest development in her dedicated and impressive career leaves her only a few steps away from representing the team who inspired the nation in 2017. England women won the World Cup in memorable fashion in July and scooped the Team of the Year award at the BBC’s Sports Personality ceremony. The 17-year-old, from Goudhurst, is an opening bowler and middle-order bat who joined the girls’ section at The Nevill in 2012. Last season she scored 370 runs for the club at a Bradman-esque average of 92, including five half-centuries.
She was first selected on to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) women’s development pathway in 2014 and captained the Academy in two T20 games against Scotland last summer – both of which England won. She also represented Kent’s senior squad throughout last season, having made her debut in 2016 in a T20 match against Sussex at Arundel Castle. At Kent she is now fully integrated into the senior team and ‘made to feel very welcome’. She opens the bowling with England squad member Tash Farrant. However, Izzy faces a rigorous programme to keep up with all her activities – especially since she will be taking her A Levels at Cranbrook School next summer. She said: “I am thrilled to have been invited to join the Senior Academy squad and I’m really looking forward to the winter training pro-
gramme as preparation for summer 2018, in which I would love to continue playing and coaching at Tunbridge Wells.” Another member of the Academy squad, Alice Davidson-Richards, has also been a member at TWCC since before the girls’ section was formed in 2009. The Senior Academy is designed to bridge the gap between domestic and international cricket, developing skills on and off the field. It holds training camps for three days every fortnight throughout the winter at the National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough.
‘I am thrilled to have been invited to join the Senior Academy squad and I’m really looking forward to the winter training programme as preparation for summer 2018, in which I would love to continue playing and coaching at Tunbridge Wells’ She is also committed to seven prescribed strength and conditioning sessions every week, structured by the ECB coaches. Most of these sessions have to be completed in the evenings at her local gym in Goudhurst, or during free periods at school. She attends one-on-one skills sessions once a week in Tonbridge for batting and bowling – and is also a keen hockey player, training with Cranbrook School 1st XI and playing in competitive matches on Saturdays. Her father Andrew, who runs the women’s cricket section at TWCC, says: “She has to fit her training around her academic timetable, although the increase in intensity this
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
winter has resulted in much more study time given over to cricket. “She is very focused and has an unswerving determination to succeed. In the short term, she would like to play in the expanded Kia Super League during July and August 2018. “The KSL offers great exposure and an opportunity to perform with and against the best players in the world. Izzy’s progress to full England colours is far from certain – but it certainly won’t be for lack of effort.” He believes she is in good hands despite the heavy workload at such a young age, saying: “The ECB are very supportive and have designed a holistic programme which embraces all aspects of player development. “In addition to cricket skills, most camps include specialist sessions on psychology, personal welfare development, nutrition, strength and conditioning. The ECB closely monitors everyone’s health. Bowling workloads are strictly managed and every player reports weekly on their personal well-being.” The governing body’s Women’s High Performance Manager Jonathan Finch said: “Izzy has made the transition after impressing over the summer and joins a squad with several players looking to push on to international honours in the near future.” He added: “We are excited by the players and the coaching team we have working with this group and following on from their initial camp in Desert Springs the younger players will be working towards a tri-series against Australia and South Africa next year.”
PULL IN THE CROWDS Izzy hits out for Kent against Sussex at Beckenham last season
Squash tournament is renamed in memory of Colin Payne SQUASH: TUNBRIDGE WELLS Squash Club has named its Open Tournament after Colin Payne, a leading local player who was instrumental in bringing the prestigious event to the town. And for the first time this year, the club will be offering equal prize money to both the competing men and ladies. The Colin Payne Tournament, the fourth annual Professional Squash Association (PSA) Open, will be held at the club on London Road on January 11-12. Colin, who died last year at the age of 54, won the Over-50s National Squash Championship and had previously been a professional on the PSA World Tour. A doyen of Tunbridge Wells Squash Club, he won the Kent Championship five times, Kent Over-35s Championship 10 times, and represented the
county team on more than 100 occasions. The first round will be held from 4-7pm on Thursday January 11, with quarter-finals at 7.30-9pm, semi-finals on Friday January 12 from 5-6pm and the final at 7pm.
Tough Sixteen world-ranked men will be competing for the Colin Payne Trophy. Richie Fallows (world ranking 62) has won the tournament for the last two years. But he will be expecting tough opposition from Ben Coleman (No 52), who beat him 3-2 in the final at Venise Verte. Also among the top sees are Joe Lee (No 59) and Jamie Haycocks (No 85) In the ladies’ event, Millie Tomlinson, winner of the last three tournaments and having reached
her highest ranking at No 26 in the world, will be hoping to retain her title – especially with the extra prize money on offer. However, she could be challenged by one of the rising stars of British squash, 17-year old Elise Lazarus. Since she competed last year, she has risen 68 places up the rankings ladder to break into the top 100. Alison Thompson (No 74) is also one to watch after her London Open title, while the tournament also welcomes Japan’s Misaki Kobayashi (No 40), who reached three finals in 2017. Tickets are available from Tim Donald on 07802 730909 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry costs £5 per session or £10 for a season ticket to all four sessions – there are two each day. An Under-18s season ticket costs £5. Reserved seats cost £5 in addition to the entry fee, viewing one court only.
LOCAL LEGEND Colin Payne
Wednesday December 27 | 2017
Team Tenzing strap themselves in for 3,000 miles and a million oar strokes CALM BEFORE THE STORM Chris Williams (left) and Max Thorpe prepare to leave La Gomera
trio of ladies and groups of four. Chris is the captain of Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club, and his father Mark, the club’s chairman, says: “The lads are doing brilliantly, they have been as high as sixth place in the fleet – and first in the pairs. “They are making really good progress despite heavy swirls and some big waves. These were enough to stop a frontrunner for the night, who had to drop anchor because of the swirls.”
to avoid deaths among athletes who have undetected heart problems – and last month it celebrated providing the 1,000th free heart screening at Tonbridge Angels Football Club. The race was founded by Sir Chay Blyth and was first held in 1997. It is 3,000 miles long and requires a million oar strokes. The task involves rowing non-stop, 24 hours a day for up to 90 days from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. The race began on December 14, with a total of 28 teams taking part consisting of solo rowers, pairs, one
The two Steves: McKimm pays tribute to chief
PHOTO: David Couldridge
ROWING: AS OUR readers digest the last remnants of their Christmas feast and contemplate a brave new fitness regime for the new year, spare a thought for Chris Williams and Max Thorpe. The two local athletes spent the festive season with just each other for company as they rowed their way across the Atlantic in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic as ‘Team Tenzing’. The 25-year-old friends, who both went to Judd School, are undertaking the remarkable challenge in aid of Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and to raise awareness of pollution in the sea. CRY is a campaigning group seeking
The specially designed boats are seven metres long and just under two metres wide, with only a small cabin for protection from the elements. All food, equipment and medical supplies must be stored on board at the start and cannot be resupplied or repaired by an outside agency during the crossing. The gruelling endurance race causes a constant battle with sleep deprivation, salt sores and vivid hallucinations – as well as 40ft waves and blistering sun. The team suffered an early setback when their autopilot rudder started going awry after just half an hour but they managed to repair it. Chris was also badly afflicted by seasickness initially but has succeeded in gradually overcoming the debilitating condition.
FOOTBALL: TONBRIDGE ANGELS’ hugely popular Chairman, Steve Churcher (far left), is presented with a shirt signed by the first-team squad by ‘the Gaffer’, manager Steve McKimm as he stands down after eight years in the post. McKimm paid tribute to his boss, saying: “The club has been very fortunate to have a chairman who is always approachable, has a friendly word to say to everyone, but at the same time has the intellect to lead a semi-professional non-league club through the football minefield so that it actually seems like fun, which of course is what it should be. Perhaps his greatest legacy has been to steadily lead the club to supporter ownership, which does seem to be a perfect model for a club like Tonbridge.”
The crew’s blog also revealed: “We were immediately thrown into some huge swells – a proper introduction to the ‘rolling hills of water’ that we had been told about. “They are massive and a bit daunting to start with but we have come to enjoy them as they add a few extra knots to our speed – every little helps!” The pair wear four-point harnesses at all times, and though the first night was ‘pretty stable’, they add: “Night two was a bit crazy to say the least. Howling winds built the waves into a frenzy and in the pitch black of the ocean night, this offered a stern early test of our resolve. “Huge waves were cresting right up behind the boat and we were being battered from both sides for several hours – it was a wild ride. We are proud to say we navigated our way through it safely and securely.” The stress and strain was alleviated by a pod of dolphins who swum alongside the boat for a spel. “This was amazing to witness. Who knows what we will see next?” The pair, who have been friends since they were 10 years old, are raising money for CRY after a close friend of Chris died on an undetected heart condition while they were at university, a tragedy which occurs on average 14 times a week in the UK. As Max reveals: “Young people often
HOME SWEET HOME Everything must be kept on the purpose-built seven-metre boats operate on a strange sense of invincibility. Chris and I have both felt this, but it’s important to realise this can happen to anyone however healthy or fit they might be or might feel.” You can watch Team Tenzing’s progress on the race tracker at www.taliskerwhiskyatlanticchallenge. com and read their blogs on www.teamtenzing.org, where you can also make a donation.