This is our monthly look at some of the local stories making the headlines in Tunbridge Wells for November.
So columnist Paul Dunton has been honoured with a Civic Medallion by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council for his services to the community.
The singer-songwriter has organised Local&Live, the town’s music festival, every year since 2006. This year’s event was the largest yet, with 250 artists performing for 20,000 festival-goers over the August bank holiday weekend.
“What makes this unique is that Paul is possibly the youngest recipient of the medallion,” says councillor Jane March. “This award is well deserved and it acknowledges the years of hard work and effort he has put into the music scene in Tunbridge Wells.”
Judges have deemed Tunbridge Wells blooming lovely by awarding it gold in the ‘large town’ category of the 2015 South and South East in Bloom contest. The competition takes into account horticultural efforts, environmental friendliness, and community participation, and is entered by hundreds of towns and villages each year. The town also won ‘large conservation area’ bronze for Barnett’s Wood Local Nature Reserve.
“It is great to have recognition for all the hard work that goes into making a town beautiful,” says the town’s mayor David Elliott. “This highlights how important it is to have parks and open spaces for the community.”
Tunbridge Wells food photographer Alex Luck has had a dream come true, being picked from hundreds of entrants to run a delicious magazine photoshoot.
He entered the magazine’s food photography competition back in February. The 24-year-old, a former student at the University for the Creative Arts, had done work experience since leaving university, but never run his own photoshoot before.
“Opportunities like this rarely come along and a credited magazine feature is huge,” he says. “Food and farming are important to my family so it seemed natural to make that my focus.”
A local drama group has performed its final show after 60 years of razzle-dazzle. The Crowborough Vale Drama Group, which had put on performances to raise money for charity since its formation in 1955, had one last showstopper about the group’s history.
The decision was made by sisters Melissa Lewes and Sarah Janeway, whose mother Pauline Lavington had run the group for seven years until her death in 2003. Mrs Lewes says, “Getting to the 60th year is a big benchmark – not many groups make it that far – but it is the diamond show and time to step down.”
A Groombridge couple feared they’d lost their prized bald eagle Helga after driving 100 miles around the county to no avail. Eddie and Veronica Hare discovered their 17-year-old bird was missing after an afternoon demonstration at the Raptor Centre in Hartfield. But, after a two-day search, she was found two miles from their home, in a paddock in Langton Green.
“It was sheer luck that we found her nearby, as bald eagles aren’t like pigeons – they don’t have this homing device built into them,” says Veronica. “We’re so relieved to have her back.”
LET THEM EAT CAKE
Well-heeled residents of Tunbridge Wells have made headlines across the UK after donating unusual items such as a tennis racket, a ball gown and a cake stand to a RefugEase collection for Calais refugees.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the donations were right on the money and were perfect for immediate use in Europe; we did, however, wonder how some of the things we found in the piles arrived,” says organiser Valentina Osborn. “But we saw it as positive – it was almost better than a good donation because it gave people a laugh for five minutes. It made our day.”