Last chance to see vil­lages through the year

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - FRONT PAGE -

The “ab­so­lutely last ever” Three Vil­lages Cal­en­dar pro­duced for 2019 by photo his­to­rian Ray Stur­geon has al­ready raised £950 for char­ity.

Mr Stur­geon has been pro­duc­ing the cal­en­dars us­ing im­ages of Burham, Ayles­ford and Ec­cles from his ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion for three years.

Be­fore that he made and sold seven book­lets of old pho­tos, and one full-length book, but he said: “I’ve been fundrais­ing now for 15 years, and at 78, it’s time for me to re­tire.”

Mr Stur­geon be­gan his col­lec­tion in 2002 af­ter be­ing forced to re­tire early from his work as a charge-hand with Wards builders through ill-health. He had to un­dergo open-heart surgery. He was sub­se­quently in­spired to start col­lect­ing af­ter a friend gave him an old photo of Ec­cles. His col­lec­tion now runs into thou­sands of im­ages.

Mr Stur­geon, who was born in Alma Road, Ec­cles, now lives in Bull Lane in the vil­lage.

He be­came fas­ci­nated at how things change over the decades.

For ex­am­ple, the house where he was born was num­ber 12 but is now num­ber 36 Alma Road.

The pro­ceeds from this year’s cal­en­dar are be­ing dis­trib­uted with £500 go­ing to Heart of Kent Hospice, £200 to River­bank chil­dren’s ward at Maidstone Hos­pi­tal, and £50 each to Burham Sure Start and to Ayles­ford, Ec­cles, Burham and Would­ham Pre-Schools.

Over the years Mr Stur­geon has raised an in­cred­i­ble £18,300.

He added: “I would like to thank all those who have sup­ported me, espe­cially Rob and Sally Jef­fery of Court Farm, who edited the cal­en­dar for me.

“Thanks also to John and Joan Perce­val of Lo­tus De­sign and Print who pro­duced it.” Ec­cen­tric prop­erty mogul Fer­gus Wil­son sent a knit­ted adult gift to a YouTu­ber he once tried to sue.

But the multi-mil­lion­aire says the item, var­i­ous oth­ers and ac­com­pa­ny­ing lewd mes­sages were just “a bit of ban­ter”.

Danny Hyde was taken to court by Mr Wil­son in Fe­bru­ary, af­ter the vlog­ger posted a video re­act­ing to Mr Wil­son’s pro­posal to ban ‘coloured’ peo­ple from rent­ing his homes.

Since then Mr Hyde has re­ceived a wealth of gifts from the Boughton Monchelsea res­i­dent.

The 30- year- old said: “It’s funny, that’s what I don’t un­der­stand, he tried to ruin my life, now all of a sud­den he’s send­ing me fine cheeses.”

The Som­er­set pain­ter-dec­o­ra­tor started re­ceiv­ing let­ters from Mr Wil­son ear­lier this year, fol­lowed by a ham­per of food and two mugs and a t-shirt.

The 70-year-old also sent the mes­sage: “My ba­nana is big­ger than yours” in a box with two hard bananas.

The show­er­ing of gifts came to a head at the week­end, when Mr Hyde posted a video on his chan­nel un-box­ing an adult gar­ment - namely a willy warmer - from Mr Wil­son.

Mr Hyde said: “At first I thought the gifts might be a back-handed com­ment, or mind games, but the lat­est of­fer­ing is sur­real. If it’s go­ing to carry on and it’s funny I don’t want it to stop.”

In re­sponse, Mr Wil­son - who ad­mit­ted he had never spo­ken to Mr Hyde in per­son - said: “I’ve sent him a few bits and pieces.

He and I got off to a very un­for­tu­nate re­la­tion­ship, he does seem quite a nice young man and I don’t think there’s any an­i­mos­ity - it’s a bit of ban­ter.”

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