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Last Fri­day saw the first Kent Chal­lenger Games at the Julie Rose Sta­dium – the in­spi­ra­tion of our Mayor, Cllr Win­ston Michael. Those present were wit­ness to some­thing truly spe­cial, and we should all take heart from our young peo­ple show­ing just what they can achieve.

These school chil­dren proved how de­ter­mined they were when faced with the many chal­lenges. They com­peted against each other with friend­ship and true sport­ing spirit, with many friend­ships made. The choir of 150 chil­dren formed from 14 schools gave an emo­tional ren­di­tion of 10 in­spi­ra­tional songs, in­clud­ing the Games An­them “One in a Mil­lion” – re­mark­able given it was the first time they had sung to­gether. The Tow­ers Cheer­lead­ers Stunt Team also gave ex­tra­or­di­nary per­for­mances. With a large de­tach­ment of mil­i­tary per­son­nel in at­ten­dance Ash­ford and Kent af­firmed their com­mit­ment to the Mil­i­tary Covenant. This was a defin­ing mo­ment, as so much is owed to our brave forces who are called to put their lives on the line for us all. The Gurkha March­ing Mil­i­tary Band gave vir­tu­oso per­for­mances and cap­tured the hearts of ev­ery­one.

Ev­ery school pa­raded with a banner and the day was judged by ev­ery­one to be an out­stand­ing suc­cess. It was made clear that there is noth­ing like this for the chil­dren at this level and that the Kent Chal­lenger Games filled the gap. Calls were made to or­gan­is­ers for the Games to be a fix­ture ev­ery two to three years.

Ash­ford’s his­toric Vic­to­ria Park has been awarded a £167,000 de­vel­op­ment grant from the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund and Big Lot­tery Fund, which will sup­port an ex­cit­ing project.

The coun­cil, in part­ner­ship with the com­mu­nity and oth­ers, has adopted a plan to cre­ate a des­ti­na­tion that boosts civic pride, and cel­e­brates the rich her­itage of this im­por­tant site. The fund­ing will sup­port the timely and ben­e­fi­cial re­pairs to the iconic Grade II* Listed, Hu­bert Foun­tain and the sur­round­ing pi­azza area.

Other works will in­clude re­plac­ing the play space with sen­sory gar­dens, ex­tend­ing the com­mu­nity or­chard, restor­ing the se­cret gar­den and cre­at­ing a paved path. This should pro­vide the com­mu­nity with a pleas­ant en­vi­ron­ment and will help cre­ate a well-main­tained space for lo­cal events, such as the ev­er­grow­ing Cre­ate Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, which takes place this com­ing week­end, and other cul­tural and en­ter­tain­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

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