DAVE LEVETT: Dave died in hospital on March 5th. We well remember the first time we met him. He emerged from a cloud of pipe smoke and introduced himself, 'Hello, I'm the Village Idiot!' In fact, he was quite the opposite. When we first arrived in the village, getting on for twenty years ago, Dave was absolutely part of the fabric of village life acting as treasurer for various bodies, hosting Hort. Soc. sales with Candy at Blue Pines, active with the Village Hall, driving for BACT and the Blind Club and more. A peace time soldier himself, together with Celia and Fred, Dave was one of the three stalwarts who collected for the British Legion in the run up to Remembrance Sunday.
At the time of going to press (Tuesday 20th), the funeral arrangements are still not known.
MOUNTFIELD AND WHATLINGTON SCHOOL: The closure of our school in 2014 started a real saga. The identities and rights of no fewer than six owners and donors had to be identified. The responsibilities of the local PCCs, the Diocese and ESCC had to be juggled. It was originally marketed as a school then offered as a development site for £750,000 which may not seem much but the cost of clearing the site still proved prohibitive. Then, along came a white knight.
The site and buildings have been bought by Acorn Care and Education who are the largest combined children’s services group in the UK. They specialise in the special needs of children with learning, physical, social, emotional or behavioural problems. They have bought the M&W site to operate as a school for children of primary age. The principal will be Mr Craig Ribbons who is currently headteacher of Heath Farm School near Ashford. Mr Ribbons gave a short presentation to members of Mountfield Parish Council before the meeting last week in which he introduced himself and the plans for the school.
It will open in September with just four or five children and will slowly increase the numbers over time though, given the children’s problems and that much of the care will be one to one, there will not be very high numbers in the longer term. Mr Ribbons explained that he is looking forward to the school becoming an active part of the community again.
On a practical note, it will be good to have the whole site in active service as this reduces the risk of vandalism. Also, all parties concerned in the sale are keen to secure the car park area.
Acorn’s purchase of the whole site is surely the best possible outcome with the site and buildings being used for exactly what they were always intended and for which they are perfectly designed.
HAZEL: Everybody enjoys catkins whether it’s the subtle colouring of the alder catkins or the profusion of hazel catkins that can make a shrub look as if it is in leaf. Catkins are the male flowers of the hazel — actually each catkin consists of well over 200 male flowers — but the female flowers are generally overlooked and they are astonishing. They are minute and need to be searched for on a twig. A glass helps to see that they are bright crimson and easily the most colourful of our native woodland flowers.
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