Rusthall Life Issue 48

Page 1

January - February 2024 | Issue 48

Your Village… Your Magazine

Distributed FREE throughout the village

Produced by Langton Life Ltd | Tel: 07532 339434 | Email:


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local happenings Supported by Rusthall Parish Council

Contents Local happenings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Reclaim the Night walk gets bigger. . . . . . . 7 News from Rusthall St Paul’s School . . . . . . . 8 Nordhus Furniture create the wow factor . . 11 Parish Council. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Make friends with u3a. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Community rallies in support of post office. 14 Contessa Curtains. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Useful contacts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 St Paul’s Youth Council. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18

Happy birthday to Rusthall Community Coffee On 25th November the team behind Community Coffee were celebrating the milestone of their second birthday. Set up by the Bonfire and Fete Committee in 2021 as a way of getting the community back together after successive Covid-19 lockdowns, the monthly event has gone from strength to strength. Running from 9am-12pm, usually on the last Saturday of the month, it is also a warm, welcoming, and inclusive event. It’s a sign of how successful Community Coffee has been that it is now hard to imagine our village without it. We are sure there will be many more birthdays to come.

Front cover: Community rallies in support of post office, see page 14.

View Rusthall Life online at

Contact Rusthall Life magazine! The magazine is a celebration of life in Rusthall and is published 6 times a year. It is delivered door to door to the 2000-plus houses in the village, and is available at local shops and in some surrounding villages. Please submit editorial and advertisements (pre-paid) for the next edition by 11th February 2024. Advertising: Rob Mauduit Editor: Jayne Sharratt Tel: 07532 339434 Director: Ed Langridge The publishers cannot be held responsible for the content of the editorial in this publication.

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Rusthall Life

Carrying the school banner Henry Pearce, a pupil at Rusthall St Paul’s School in the village, was proud to carry the school banner alongside his dad at the Remembrance Sunday Church Parade in the Parish Church on 12th November 2023. Also taking part were Rusthall Explorers, Scouts, Cubs and Beavers; and Rusthall Guides, Brownies, and Rainbows. The service included the roll of honour when the names of all those remembered on the Rusthall war memorial are read out. The last post was played for a two-minute silence at 11am, when poppy petals fell down to the floor. As always it was a solemn and moving occasion.


local happenings New players welcome at Rusthall Cricket Club Never mind that we are in the depths of Winter. In just over 3 months the sun will be shining, the clocks will have gone forward and come mid-April Rusthall Cricket Club will be starting its 2024 season. 2023 was a bit of a mixed season on the pitch - some pleasing victories interspersed with some defeats along the way. No matter, we finished on a high at the end of the season and hope to carry that form into the start of this year. Last year off the pitch we had a really significant development. Many folks will have spotted that we had scaffolding up for a couple of weeks in May and had the pavilion re-roofed. And very impressive it looks too, especially when we complemented it with a fresh lick of white paint. On the pitch - win or lose - we continued to play our cricket in the right spirit and get much enjoyment from doing so. Being a friendly, welcoming, and inclusive Club and playing our cricket accordingly is what our values as a Club are all about. Which brings me to player recruitment for 2024. The Club is looking to recruit new players of all abilities who would love to play local non-league cricket (generally 40 overs per team) on a Saturday afternoon, whether it be trying the game for the first time or returning to it. Before the season starts, we have pre-season nets on Sunday mornings for 5 - 6 weeks indoors at Holmewood House,

and everyone is welcome. If you are interested, please contact Nigel Cheek, the Club Chairman, on 07710 144252, for further details. All spectators are more than welcome - there are bench seats around the ground and always the chance of a cup of tea if you coincide with teatime! Here’s looking forward to fine weather, a successful 2024 season and a Happy New Year to all. Nigel Cheek.

Shally inspires action with Greenpeace challenge

When local artist Suzy Phillips got in touch to tell me about her friend Shally Hunt’s fundraising challenge, I was impressed. “Shally lives in Rusthall and is eighty-one, recovering from falling down the stairs and breaking her back last year,” Suzy told me. “She recently completed the five-by-five challenge in aid of Greenpeace, and to raise awareness of Climate Change. At the end of October and in dreadful weather she and her dog Harvey walked five miles for five days – she’s an amazing woman and very unassuming.” I asked Shally what motivated her? “I feel so strongly about climate change and governments worldwide just talking the talk, that when Greenpeace started their 25,000-mile challenge - the circumference of the Earth - I decided I could do something. My dog and I walked five miles for five consecutive days in rain and shine and raised nearly £300.00 thanks to all those who kindly donated.” Shally is certain that we can all play our part. “Climate change is such an overwhelming issue it is easy to think that we can make

no difference. However, like pennies in a jar, if enough people do a little it becomes significant: eating less meat, taking shorter showers, reducing plastic use, turning off lights not in use. These are just a few examples of what we can all do. I am no saint but now I don’t eat meat and have oatmeal milk which works with everything and am trying to waste less and take the bus rather than my car. I can buy almost all the clothes ‘stuff’ I need from our wonderful Rusthall Hospice Shop.” “I joined Greenpeace because they really make a difference without being so extreme. They find out which companies are ‘greenwashing’. If we concentrate on wasting less food, energy, clothes, and ‘stuff’ it will help. As many others do, I worry about the future for my children and grandchildren. People power can work!”

Consultations on safety in the Borough At the moment Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are holding two consultations to find out more about where women and girls do not feel safe in the Borough and what can be done to address this. They are suitable for all age groups including young people under


the age of sixteen and the council would like as broad a range of age groups to respond as possible. They can be found online at www.talkingpointtunbridgewells.

Rusthall Life

Good bones In the week before Halloween I was sitting in the window of Daily Bread, and spotted a sight I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of! Pictured are Parish Councillor and Community Larder organiser Paul Gripper and local hairdresser at Southwood Road Salon Lucy Barrett - who their friend is, I’m not sure!

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An audio version of Rusthall Life is available for anyone who has difficulty reading. It is read by Ian Cowdroy, who for many years has been working with the Kent Association for the Blind’s Talking News Service. If you have reading difficulties and would like an audio version of Rusthall Life or Langton Life please contact We professionally record each issue and email it to recipients.



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Rusthall Life

Reclaim the Night walk gets bigger

On Saturday 25th November 2023 the second Tunbridge Wells Reclaim the Night walk took place. This year there were two walks, one beginning in Rusthall High Street and another beginning at the same from St John’s Road. Both walks met at The Pantiles, where there were short speeches from the co-founders of Reclaim the Night in Tunbridge Wells, Lauren Brook and Jayne Sharratt. Jayne said, “I’m so pleased that we were able to organise two walks this year; last year was the first and we were blown away when fifty people came out to protest our right to feel safe in public spaces, but this year there were around seventy people in total. It’s so great that the movement is growing and we’re proud of how we have been able to connect with others in the community and all that has been achieved by working together. This year a group held a walk in Cardiff after being inspired by seeing ours on social media, and we think that the more we campaign on this issue the more hope there will be of the cultural shift needed to break down the misogyny that is the underlying cause of violence against women and girls.” On the walk were members of Tunbridge Wells Soroptimists, who have been campaigning on the safety of women and girls for a number of years, and in September 2022 published a report on the findings of their survey of how safe women felt in the Borough called ‘Spotlight on Safety in Tunbridge Wells. Alongside them were members of Tunbridge Wells Women’s Rugby Club, who wanted to go on the walk to raise awareness of how they feel when they have to walk to training after dark during the winter. Rusthall resident and rugby player Sophie Cook, who went on the walk, said; “The slogan for this year’s Reclaim the Night walk was ‘Empowered together, stronger alone”. This resonated with players both on and off the pitch. As the dark nights draw

in, many make journeys to and from the club in the dark when they should not feel threatened but able to focus on the training session ahead.” Jayne is the Borough Councillor for Rusthall Ward and Cabinet Member for Carbon Reduction and Sustainability. Joining her on the walk were fellow cabinet members Nancy Warne, who is Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Communities, Ellen Nevill who is Cabinet Member for the Environment, Justine Rutland who is Cabinet Member for Economic Development, and Ben Chapelard who is the Leader of the Council; as well as members of the local police. Leo Moodley, a fifteen year old pupil of Bennett Memorial Diosecan School was asked why he went on the walk. “I’m a feminist,” he said. “I think everyone deserves to walk down the street without being harassed or worse, everyone should feel safe. There was a feeling in the air that progress could be made and there was hope for the future not just for Tunbridge Wells but for the whole country.” Co-founder Lauren Brook was delighted with how the walk went, saying the next day, “Last night we reclaimed our streets, with seventy people leaving their warm houses to walk with us. It was the most inspiring, rousing, heartwarming, brilliant evening full of warmth and laughter and poignancy - our community came together in the most meaningful way and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone for attending and being so engaged in our cause. Thank you to Luke Clampitt for the incredible photography, the Soroptimists and Tunbridge Wells Rugby Football Club Ladies for collaborating so closely with us on these important issues, Kent Police for attending and engaging with us, local councillors for their support and lastly thank you to everyone who came along to be part of such a special event. We will be back next year!”

Photos: Luke Clampitt

Rusthall Life


local happenings

News from Rusthall St Paul’s School It has been a busy time at Rusthall St Paul’s CE Primary School with lots of preparation for the Christmas Period. We started with Reception and Key Stage 1 and their production of ‘It’s a Miracle’. They worked exceptionally hard to remember all their words and deliver their lines with volume and intonation. Everyone was very proud of their achievements. Key Stage 2 then led the school and parents in a Christmas Carol Service. They retold the story of the birth of Jesus using readings from the bible, reflections and Christmas carols. The school was beginning to feel very festive. On Thursday 8th December, a selection of enthusiastic KS2 singers were invited to perform in the village. Our first stop was Manor Road pre-school where after singing our songs we had a performance from the nursery children and then joined in together. Our next stop was to the Lunch Club at the church centre. They were grateful for us coming and spreading the festive cheer. They were very impressed that we didn’t need the words and even sang one song acapella. We were invited to stay for lunch and joined

them in saying Grace which was led by Rev. Tony Rutherford. We reflected on what it meant to be a consumer and prayed for no one to be left hungry. Reverend Ronnie came in to light the advent wreath which we made in worship. He explained that as well as being linked to feelings such as love, joy, peace and hope, the candles each represent a person or a group of people. The first candle is lit on the first Sunday of Advent and represents the Patriarchs. The children learned that the next three candles are lit on the next three Sundays for: The Prophets, John the Baptist (who was Jesus’ cousin) and Mary. The fifth (which is lit on Christmas day) is for Jesus. Friends of Rusthall School have been amazing in their fundraising efforts and put on another fantastic event – Elfridges. Families were incredibly generous with their donations and the children were able to go and choose Christmas presents for their families. We would like to give extra special thanks to FORS as their tireless efforts to raise funds to support the children has meant that the whole school has been to see the Beauty and the Beast Pantomime in Tunbridge Wells this year. We were able to take every single pupil with no cost to families. It has been a very busy term and everyone is looking forward to the holidays. Rusthall St Pauls CE Primary School will be back to school on 3rd January ready for lots more exciting learning and activities including their first trip to Seal Community Farm.

Local dancers to represent Team England at the Dance World Cup “We can’t wait to dance on the world stage in Prague next summer,” says Carla Nicolson-Fuller, Principal of Firefly Dance School based in Tunbridge Wells, at the news that the school she founded has been selected to represent Team England in the Dance World Cup, taking place in Prague in 2024. Some of the talented dancers live in Rusthall, and they are very excited about their trip to Prague. Aged between five and seventeen, they will compete against dance schools from across the globe in fifteen dances, in the categories of song and dance, national and folklore and lyrical. The Dance World Cup is the largest all-genre international competition in the world with 120,000 competitors from 65 countries participating. There were over 5000 entries into the qualifiers and Firefly Dance School beat off stiff competition to be named in the Team England squad. Carla tells us, “I am so excited and proud to take my team to the World Cup next year. This is the first time we’ve ever entered, so to qualify fifteen dances was an absolute dream come true. Firefly Dance School and its students mean everything to me, we are a small dance school that caters to local families, so this opportunity means the world to us. To be selected for Team England is a huge honour and testament to the hard work the girls have put into their rehearsals to date. We can’t wait to dance on the world stage in Prague next summer.” As well as rehearsing hard over the next few months, the dance school needs to raise funds to help send the dancers who will be competing in the Dance World Cup.


For anyone wishing to lend some support, the dance school have set up a Go Fund Me page for donations, alongside numerous fundraising activities but are also open to discuss specific sponsorship opportunities for anyone interested in supporting the dance school. The Go Fund me page is at

Rusthall Life

Rusthall Life


Beautifully Designed Expertly Built Immaculately Finished The Workshop, Upper Birchetts, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN3 0EG

local happenings Nordhus Furniture create the wow factor Whenever I meet Rikke Mitchell of Nordhus Furniture and Baltic Star Build in Langton Green, I am impressed by her clear vision and the passion she has for delivering beautiful and functional furniture to her clients’ specifications. It is a cold day in early December when I visit the Nordhus Furniture workshops and showrooms in Langton Green; a calm and productive space where the company Rikke founded make beautifully bespoke kitchens, walk in wardrobes and any other joinery and cabinetry requirements her discerning clients ask for. Since I last met Rikke towards the end of Covid-19 restrictions, the demand for kitchens and wardrobes is still high, but now she is also being asked for window frames and doors. “Before Brexit and the war in Ukraine, people would order windows and doors from Poland, however now that isn’t possible and we find we are frequently asked to do windows, doors and sometimes staircases. We are able to create something that fits historic houses – a Grade II listed building will have doors of different sizes, many of them wonky! We made twelve internal doors with oak surrounds for a client recently. It’s nice doing these items, they can bring as much joy as doing a really nice kitchen. An external door and window frames can lift the whole house, inside and out.” It is clear that for Rikke there is a joy in every single project that she undertakes. When I ask her to name a recent favourite project, she thinks for a few minutes, but concludes, “all of them,” in a way that is very sincere. She really cares about the detail of everything she takes on, and so do her team. “That moment when you take all the protectives off and have a ‘wow’ moment when the team who have built it and the clients all see it finished for

the first time – it’s exciting every single time, it never gets old,” she confesses. Something Nordhus take pride in is being able to build cabinetry to a client’s specifications and requirements. “We get ridiculously excited by clients with specific requests,” Rikke says. “Whatever they want we will do it and also make it look incredible.” They recently made a Finnish Drying Cupboard for a kitchen. “They are very cool and traditional, invented by a woman in the 1950s,” explains Rikke. “My mother and my grandmother had one; it’s a cupboard over the sink with no base and a rack inside, so that crockery can be put inside to dry; you close the doors, and it looks like a cupboard. It’s much more discreet and functional than a dish rack on the counter. It’s the first one we have been asked to make, but I hope to do more!” For Rikke, joinery and cabinetry should not just be aesthetic, they need to have a purpose and be used over and over again every day. “That is the ethos of the Shaker style that we specialise in,” she says. “Everything needs to be functional; we very much feel the same way.” In the showroom, clients can look at samples of tiles, worktops, and different kinds of wood, as well as details like hinges and handles and draw on the experienced advice of Rikke and her team to choose the materials that are right for their home. Rikke’s background is as a building surveyor. Originally from Denmark, she has spent over thirty years in the UK and much of her career has been working in the construction industry. After her first child was born, she was asked to help her friends with a problem they were having with their house project, and from there she founded Baltic Star, a full-service building contract business. Out of this was born Nordhus; she found that when she was working on a house she would be asked; “While you are here could you just make a cupboard, or build a wardrobe?” And so, her passion for designing furniture that works for her clients’ lives was born. Nordhus is now an established part of the Langton Green community. “We love it here, the locals have begun to know us now, it’s all very friendly,” Rikke says. “What’s not to like about Langton? You couldn’t wish for more, The Hare, The Green, our lovely landlady Petra. We are very happy here.” We can’t be alone in feeling that Langton is very lucky to have Nordhus. To find out more look at

New owners at Daily Bread I can’t be the only one to have felt some trepidation when I heard that Daily Bread was being sold to new owners. What if they changed it? Thankfully, a month into the new ownership, it’s clear that one of our favourite local cafes is still in good hands, and I was keen to meet the new owners. Husband and wife team Joe and Becky have been living in Rusthall for just over one year, but they have lived in Tunbridge Wells for much longer. “I moved here from London when I was eight,” Joe says. “I’m from Bethnal Green and Becky is from Langton Green – they say opposites attract…!” he jokes. What brought them to Rusthall? “We bought lifelong village resident Mark Rees’s old house,” Joe says. “Becky remembered it from her childhood and adored it, so when we saw it was for sale we didn’t hesitate. Moving to Rusthall is the best thing we have done.” Joe has been a builder for twenty-seven years, and Becky has worked in hospitality, but the café is a new departure for them both. “Our head chef Jason messaged us to say that Daily Bread was for sale and joked that we should buy it…turns out, it wasn’t a joke – it’s very serious. We’re loving running it, we know some people were worried about what we would do with it, but we loved coming here ourselves, so we don’t want to change it, only add to it. We hope that we will have an evening offering again next year. We have had some good feedback, so we hope we are on the right track!”

Rusthall Life


Parish Council

News from

Thermal Imaging: Rusthall Parish Council is offering free Thermal Imaging surveys for residents in Rusthall again this winter. The survey takes about 20 minutes and will be carried out by two Parish Councillors, using a state-of-the-art thermal imaging camera, with the householder present. The Councillors will then share the results so you can see where your property is losing the most heat but please note they are not able to make any recommendations. If you would like to have a survey, please register your interest by emailing your details to Please include your name, address, and a phone number. We will then arrange a mutually convenient appointment. If you don’t have an email address please call us instead on 01892 520161. Community Speedwatch: Pupils between the ages of 8-11 years from St Paul’s CE Primary School in Rusthall have been part of a Kent Police scheme called ‘Mini Cadets’. This is a nine-week course, where students learn about many topics including anti-social behaviour, first aid and online safety. Over the course of the nine weeks the students decide on a social action project. They decided they wanted to tackle the issue of speeding in Rusthall and educate others within the community around this issue. The young people produced posters that will be placed around the area, including schools and local shops. On Wednesday 29th November on Rusthall Road, the mini cadets took part in a Speed Check, with Rusthall Speed Watch group, where the young people got to see the speed indication device in action and have a go with a speed gun. The young people really enjoyed the experience and will go back to school and into their communities continuing to educate about the dangers of speeding in the area.

Rusthall Civic Plaque Awards: Rusthall Parish Council also operates a Commemorative Plaque Scheme which recognises and celebrates particularly noteworthy people from Rusthall. Any resident from the parish of Rusthall can submit a nomination which needs to be submitted in writing to the Parish Clerk at; If you don’t have an email address, please send a written request to the Parish Clerk at The Rackliff Centre in 26 Lower Green Road. Full details regarding the criteria and more information


can be found on our Rusthall website at; https://www. 0%2Df669%2D4bfb%2D9c1d%2D84cff82da983%2Epdf&o=Rust hall%2DCommemorative%2DPlaques%2DScheme%2Epdf Local Policing: The local Community Policing Unit hold meetings with Parish and Borough Councillors across the Tunbridge Wells area. The aim of these meetings is to gather information about local issues and concerns. Councillors learned that there seems to be a lack of reporting incidences to Kent Police, because people think that nothing will be done. The Police stressed that it is important to report all incidents to them, no matter how big or small, because it often proves crucial to solving or deterring crimes. The situation is improving though and in the last twelve months across the Borough of Tunbridge Wells there were 49 charges made for criminal damage, compared to 27 for the same period in the previous year. Charges relating to offences involving the use of violence also increased, to 230 from 204. It was also noted that the number of reported incidents involving the use of violence in the Borough has fallen. Organisations supported by Rusthall Parish Council in 2023 Alms Houses

£1323.61 To help with maintenance

Royal British Legion


Counselling Centre

£300.00 To help with running costs

Remembrance Day

Friends of Rusthall School £2000.00 Books Home Start South & West Kent

£1000.00 To help local families

Langton Green & Rusthall Treasure Hunt


Rusthall Bonfire & Fete Committee

£550.00 Entertainment for the Bonfire

Rusthall Bonfire & Fete Committee

£600.00 Monthly coffee mornings

Rusthall Bonfire & Fete Committee

£350.00 Christmas tree and entertainment

Rusthall Bonfire & Fete Committee

£500.00 Gazebos

Rusthall Bonfire & Fete Committee

£450.00 Family entertainment

Rusthall Lunch Club

£600.00 Christmas Lunch

Scout Group

£2500.00 Tents

Dates for the diary: 22nd January 2024

7.30pm Environment Committee

11th February 2024

7.30pm Full Council Meeting

4th March 2024

7.30pm Allotment Committee Meeting

King’s Coronation

Rusthall Life

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New parent and toddler group for Rusthall There will be a new parent and toddler group starting in the church hall at Rusthall St Paul’s Church Centre from Wednesday 10th January this year. It will be a chance for parents and carers of children from babies to school age to get together for a hot drink, biscuit and a play - a chance for young and old to make new friends and connections in the community. The group will take place every Wednesday from 9am-11am and everyone is welcome to drop in. If you would like information feel free to contact Jayne on 07532 339434, Liz on 07840 837968 and Annie on 07730 771818.

Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon Sunday 18th February 2024 will see the latest edition of the Hendy Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, which sees the runners passing through the village, as they head back towards town and the finish. Please look out for the signage along Langton Road, in the run up to the event, which will advise of the Sunday morning road closures necessary for the event to take place. The patience and understanding of everyone in the village is, once again, much appreciated. Full details of the route and about the Harriers activities can be found at www. The race, which is organised by local running club, Tunbridge Wells Harriers, is manned by volunteers and is a not-for-profit event, with all surplus funds from entry fees going to local organisations and charities - last year over £20,000 was donated. Andrew Deighton, Tunbridge Wells Harriers

Rusthall Life


local happenings

Make local friends with u3a

We have been described as the ‘antidote to loneliness’, but we are not a dating agency. We have more than 1,000 members in the Tunbridge Wells and Rusthall area, but we do not go in for funny handshakes, dress up like Hallowe’en ghosts or demand money with promises. We are not a cult, religion or political party. Nor do we build ‘exciting’ new developments of retirement homes or sell pension plans. The summer solstice to us is simply the longest day of the year. And planet earth is clearly not flat. But that’s enough of who we are not. Who we are is Tunbridge Wells u3a (that’s pronounced you-three-ay). We are a group of retired or semi-retired people who believe that life has more to offer than sitting in an armchair at home alone. At last freed from full-time employment, commuting and deadlines, we are now seizing the opportunity to devote more time to some of the hobbies and interests that we may have neglected for years. Some of us have joined u3a birdwatching groups, others are learning Bridge or improving their play. Interest groups include wine tasting, railways, photography, fine dining, science and technology, golf, country rambles, art appreciation, maths and statistics, conversational French and Spanish, and creative writing. Tunbridge Wells u3a also

organises day trips, guest speakers, holiday breaks, coffee mornings and study days. The possibilities are endless and constantly growing – you are welcome to start your own interest group! Membership costs an administration fee of £16.00 per year – that’s £1.25 per month – and there are no attendance or other obligations. Has this whetted your curiosity? Then come to one of our new members’ meetings where you’ll be introduced to existing members and introduced to someone who will guide your early days with us. Put twu3a into your computer browser and visit our website for more information. Footnote: u3a stands for University of the Third Age. But don’t panic. You won’t be expected to sit in lecture halls taking notes while someone expounds on quantum mechanics. There are certainly no exams, either. The name is historical and reflects our occasional focus on learning new stuff. Jonathan Rayner, member, Tunbridge Wells u3a

Community rallies in support of post office In November residents were expressing shock and concern at the news that the dedicated Post Office in the One Stop in Rusthall is set to be closed some time in 2024. The plan is to move the post office service to a single counter at the front of the store alongside shop tills, where staff would be serving both post office customers and customers paying for goods from the shop. Chair of the Parish Council Liz Ellicott has been assured by the Post Office and One Stop that the current services will continue from the new counter. Group Chief Executive for the Post Office Nick Read said, “We want to reassure customers that Rusthall Post Office, operated by One Stop from their store, is not closing. Post Office are working with One Stop to move the branch counter closerA to the retail till. This will make better use of retail space and enhance store operations while continuing to meet evolving customer needs. These changes will ensure greater efficiencies and flexibility at the branch, with staff trained to provide both post office and retail services. There are no


plans to change the branch services, and customers will benefit from extended opening times after the counter is relocated. One Stop are still finalising their plans for the branch, with the changes due to take place next Spring 2024. We will of course notify customers nearer the time if the branch has to close for a short period while the changes take place.” Despite this reassurance, local Borough Councillors Jayne Sharratt and Alex Britcher-Allan, alongside Parish Councillors, remain concerned and believe that the quality of service will be impacted by the changes. Jayne said, “Karen, Janet, Juliet, Judy and Nicky are the wonderful staff who work in the Post Office and they have over 100 years of post office experience between them – they are more than a post office to many, they are a friendly community point of connection, warmth and advice. They help people who rely on them for their banking, billing and pensions. It would be a shocking loss to the village if the post office in its current form goes. We really urge One Stop to rethink these plans which would surely reduce their own footfall, as well as that to other High Street businesses. Alex and I have started a petition against the closure on and have worked with the Parish Council to make a paper petition available for those who can’t sign on-line. So far over 2,400 have signed the petition in total online or on paper. We really hope that by bringing the community together to fight this, we can raise our voices loudly enough for One Stop to look again at whether these plans really make good business sense.”

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w w w. a r k d e s i g n b u i l d . c o . u k 15

local happenings

Contessa Curtains at home in Groombridge It is always a pleasure to take a trip to the pretty village of Groombridge, and I was especially curious to see what was inside The Black and White Shop, as you come down the hill towards Groombridge Place, just before The Crown Inn. I was invited to meet Chris Bassett of Contessa Curtains, and stepping inside their show room lined with fabrics, I was immediately welcomed warmly with a cup of tea. His dog, Ruby, was a little harder to win over from her hiding place under the desk. “She’s a rescue, and takes a while to trust people,” Chris explained, but before too long she came out to see me, although stayed close by Chris. Ruby goes with him to the office every day, and he takes her for walks locally. The office and showroom in Groombridge opened relatively recently, during the Covid lockdown, however Contessa is a long-established company with decades of experience and skill to draw on. “Dad is eighty-three now, and still works in the business,” Chris tells me. “He set up his first curtain business in 1968 and founded Contessa Curtains in 1975. He set up a factory in Hartlepool. We’ve survived recessions by adapting to different markets – dad used to get most of his business from the GLC and other local authorities, making curtains for school halls, but when that came to an end, he moved to making curtains for hotels, and that’s our staple business now.” While most of Contessa’s clients are hotel contracts, the office in Groombridge gave Chris the idea to offer something to local residents

as well. “We can give them a fair price, because our main business comes from our hotel contracts and we don’t need to make big mark ups on retail clients – I don’t like people spending more than they need to, I like to be fair,” he says. “We also offer an advisory service, there isn’t much I haven’t seen over the years I’ve been working in the curtain trade.” Customers can arrange an appointment to look at material in the showroom, or use their own material as they wish, and Contessa can visit their home to measure up. Chris has worked for Contessa for thirty-five years. “I enjoy it – there’s a satisfaction in seeing a space at the beginning of the process when it’s bare and raw, and then the transformation at the end when it’s beautiful. I’ve learnt a lot over the years, and it’s great to be able to share that knowledge.” Does he have a favourite project? “We just finished a hotel in Liverpool in the old municipal council offices – it’s a stunning building with a spa, and we used four thousand metres of curtain material. It looks gorgeous. There’s a house in Westerham we did recently where they wanted curtains with all the swags and tails – that’s rare these days, and nice to do, but I also enjoy the simple and pared back elegance of a more modern style.” How does he find Groombridge? “It’s beautiful here. I’ve lived between Langton Green and Speldhurst for a long time, our child goes to school locally and I try to get involved in the community so it’s great to be working here. I moved into the office on the first day of the first lockdown – and it’s been good to me.” It looks like Contessa may be an established part of the community for years to come. If you would like to find out more about Contessa email

Raffle for the win On Saturday 21st October, Christine Ashdown was hosting her friends at her house, where they were drawing the raffle she organised to raise money for the Friends of Pembury Hospital. Fundraising powerhouse Christine has been raising money for local charities for decades, and this year has raised £2000 for The Friends of Pembury Hospital. She has also been able to raise £200 for Manor Road Pre-school. “I want to say a very big thank you to all my supporters, people who have bought tickets or donated prizes. It’s surprising how much they can do with the money that is raised - I’m so glad I did it,” Christine tells me. What motivates her, I ask? “It’s something born in me, I like to do it,” she says simply, but her friend Janet has a high opinion of her. “I think you’re amazing because you do the raffle once a month, but all the rest of the time you are collecting prizes and selling the tickets and thinking about it all.” Another of Christine’s helpers, Lisa, says she enjoys giving Christine a hand with it all. “We meet up once a month, do the raffle, catch up with each other and go on our merry way, it’s lovely.” Christine thinks her raffles are so popular because all the prizes are useful things, like washing up liquid! “It’s mostly something people will use, and not something they don’t want or put away in a cupboard - it’s not wasteful like that.” Pictured are Janet, Lisa, Heather and Christine - well done to them all for their work for others.


Rusthall Life

USEFUL CONTACTS Rusthall Guide Group etc. Daphne Pilcher 01892 521691

Manufacturers of quality curtains, roman blinds, cushions and all types of soft furnishings. Established over 45 years, we can assist you in all aspects from inception to realisation. Visit our showroom and browse through our library of samples. Call 07957 811 589 to book an appointment.

The Black and White Shop, Groombridge Hill, Groombridge, TN3 9QH

Nature makers craft at the bonfire For the first time at Rusthall’s annual torchlight parade and bonfire there was a children’s parade. Organised by Ruth Gray, of Nature Makers, the children walked in the parade holding crafted ‘fireworks’ they had made themselves at a workshop earlier in the day. All the children who took part had a great time and were very proud of their creations. The parade was hit by heavy rain, as those who took part will recall, but was also a fun occasion and we will hope to see a children’s parade return next year.

Rusthall Village Association Sue White 01892 458695 Allotments Parish Clerk 01892 520161 Parish Chair Liz Ellicott Parish Clerk Alison Stevens 01892 520161 Manor Road Pre-School 07972 739852 St Paul’s Church Parish Office 01892 521447 Rusthall United Reformed Church Church Secretary – Mary Nolze 01892 536727 Rusthall and Tunbridge Wells Commons Ranger Daniel Colborne 07860 750597 The Molyneux Almshouses 07504 839548 Rusthall Football Club Jockey Farm 07897427522 Rusthall St Paul’s School 01892 520582 Rusthall Scout Group Beavers, cubs and scouts Rusthall Medical Centre 01892 515142 St Paul’s Church Fellowship Zillah Witt 523028 Out of hours medical service 111 Emergency Services 999 Samaritans 116 123 Commons Conservators 01892 554250 Police (Non-emergency) 101 Rusthall Cinema Club Eugene Gardner Rusthall Lunch Club Mrs Ros Rodwell 01892 618538 Harmony Children’s Centre 03000 418059 Sunnyside Pre-school 07534 810779 Rusthall Library Bonfire and Fete Committee

If you represent a community service or organisation that you would like to be listed here, please email the name of the organisation, a contact name and either telephone number or email address to

Rusthall Life


local happenings St Paul’s Youth Council campaign and have fun

The Youth Council is becoming ever more ambitious and exciting! Over the summer we enjoyed a great swim, burger and sausage afternoon before discussing our Autumn programme, which included bike rides between Groombridge and Forest Row and back along the disused railway track, a car wash at the Church Centre to raise money for a churchyard bee project, healthy cooking and a visit from archaeologist Nigel Stapple, who explained why he thought the original ‘pantiles’ came from the dell opposite the church. We have also scheduled talks with Ranger Dan of the Commons, and a session on looking after money! We are building links with Mt Ephraim House Care Home and will be visiting to entertain and chat. In the background continues our

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determination to fight for a road crossing over the Langton Road, so that it is safe for all to cross from the main part of the village to the church, Happy Valley and the Lodge where we hold our meetings. We wrote the following letter to the editors of the local press, to explain why it is important to us. The Youth Council is a group of 11 to 18 year olds who have adopted the motto ‘Be the Change, See the Change’. We are deeply concerned that it is impossible for us to cross the A264 from Rusthall village to the Parish Church, where our group and many others meet. We are therefore reliant on our parents driving us to and fro which is not environmentally friendly, neither does it help our independence. We have watched closely and realise this piece of road needs to be regularly crossed by a huge number of people including residents from Neville Park and a large number of dog walkers. We have seen people wait for over 5 minutes before they can cross. The problem is made far worse by the speed of many cars and lorries - it is truly terrifying. We have spoken to the village councillors, Kent Highways, Ranger Dan and the public all of whom are equally adamant a crossing is needed before there is a dreadful accident. There have been plenty of near misses. We understand that this stretch of road is currently 40mph and for a crossing to be allowed it needs to be 30 mph. This is easily achieved by moving the current sign from the Rusthall turning to the Coach Road - a short distance. We know that this campaign for a crossing has been ongoing for over ten years but we are determined to raise the profile and the huge need for it. The situation is even more urgent now we have dark and wet mornings and evenings.

Please listen to our united voice and support us by taking the urgent need for a crossing to link the two parts of our village seriously. We meet at 6pm on the first Thursday of the month in The Lodge behind the Parish Church. Everyone aged between 11 and 17 is very welcome. Please don’t be shy for you will receive a very warm welcome. It is wonderful to see new friendships, confidence and interests blossom. If you or your child is interested in joining The Youth Council either just turn up to one of our events or meetings (First Thursday of every month) or if you would like more information e-mail The council is open to all young people in years 7 -13 at secondary school. You will be sure of a very warm welcome. Rusthall St Paul’s Youth Council

39 Meadow Road, Rusthall, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8UN


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