Beau­ti­ful Stan­hope, I salute you!

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - News -

NOW how on earth did De­cem­ber 4 creep up on us like that? It’s the count­down with a cap­i­tal C. It’s now only ….44 days un­til my birth­day. I will of course be play­ing it down, so please don’t make a big thing out of JAN­UARY THE SEV­EN­TEENTH, I’m not a big one for birthdays. Any­way, a cou­ple of friends of mine have in­spired this week’s col­umn without their knowl­edge. They’re from out­side of the “gated com­mu­nity” and have de­cided to buy in the area. They don’t know Ash­ford at all, so have been looking at houses blind as to where they are ge­o­graph­i­cally. So I was quite sur­prised and rather put out when they told me they had turned down a house be­cause it was too near to Stan­hope. Now, for me, that was like a red rag to a bull be­cause, if you didn’t know al­ready, I’m a Stan­hope boy through and through. Okay, I don’t live there now but you can take the boy out of Stan­hope but you can’t take Stan­hope out of the boy. I still have mates from 40 years ago that are proud Stan­hopeians. I also have mates who still live there or have moved back there. And of course my dear old Muvver has never moved away and never will. That for me is a com­plete bonus be­cause not only do I get to visit my Mum but I also get to visit my child­hood. Now I know I can’t com­pletely wrap Stan­hope up in cot­ton wool and drown my­self in won­der­ful child­hood mem­o­ries and nos­tal­gia. Of course it’s had its fair share of prob­lems but ev­ery large coun­cil es­tate does. When Mrs Thatcher de­cided to give every­one “the right to buy” most peo­ple at the time, or since, took the op­tion, got a mas­sive dis­count, sold up and moved on. But they weren’t sell­ing on to other fam­i­lies, gen­er­ally it was to fat cat prop­erty ty­coons who bought them and rented them out again, which for me leads to “ghet­toi­sa­tion”. How things are chang­ing now! The re­gen­er­a­tion is tak­ing shape and Stan­hope is be­com­ing a beau­ti­ful phoenix ris­ing from the ashes and a new com­mu­nity and com­mu­nity spirit is be­ing forged. Per­haps its old rep­u­ta­tion will al­ways pre­cede it but it’s the peo­ple who will make it work. I wouldn’t think twice about mov­ing back there, as I in­formed my ex-friends at the time. So Stan­hope I salute you, I doff my cap to you and re­joice in you and as Chas n Dave once sang (artis­tic li­cence warn­ing) “Give me a Stan­hope girl ev­ery time”.

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