Thanet community news: Christmas appeals, fundraisers and a firewalk

Maverick Musical Theatre Group raised cash for Louie's Helping Hands

Louie’s Helping Hands and Maverick Musical Theatre Group

On Sunday, December 2 MMTG Maverick Musical Theatre Group put on a performance ‘Advent Journey’ in aid of charity.

They raised £150 for Louie’s Helping Hands, which provides life-changing support to children aged 2-11 living in Kent with multi-sensory impairments and physical difficulties. The charity is raising money for the build of an expanded Llewellyn School & Nursery at Quex.

Maverick Musical Theatre Group (MMTG) meets at The Centre, Alpha Road, Birchington on Tuesdays from 4.30pm-7.30pm with sessions for ages 3 and up, including adults. For further information and to join please contact [email protected] or call 07714529968

Thanet Community Support Partnership

Fifty of Thanet’s lonelier older residents will be receiving some unexpected Christmas cheer this year, as children across the isle teamed up with the Thanet Community Support Partnership (TCSP) to send a wealth of colourful and creative greetings cards to those who would not otherwise be receiving many – or any – cards at all.

TCSP project coordinator Chris Scutt said: “We all happened to be watching BBC South East Today recently, when the story of Harry Winters, an elderly and quite lonely RAF veteran, came on.  By the power of social media, a friend of Harry’s told his story, and from that he received over 450 cards and letters, many from schoolchildren – as part of the #OneMoreCard campaign, run by Kent-based help-at-home service, Close to Hand.

“The following day we all agreed we should do something in our neck of the woods, which would be simple but hopefully very effective in brightening the Christmasses of so many of our lonelier beneficiaries.

“In fact, the real hard-workers were the Year 3 pupils at Bromstone Primary School in Broadstairs, and the 7th Margate Guides, both of whom got to work in quick-time, designing a wonderful array of cards to ensure 50 fewer older residents will feel as lonely or unthought-of this Christmastide.  We can’t thank them enough.”

To find out more about the work of the Thanet Community Support Partnership, a project by Kent Coast Volunteering, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and see if you’re the perfect person to be a volunteer befriender for a lonelier older person in your community, call 01843 609337, follow them on social media @ThanetCommunity, or email [email protected].

St Laurence in Thanet parish Christmas services

Sunday 16th December:

6:30pm            9 Lessons and Carols,  St Catherine, Manston

6:30pm            Carol Service, St Mark, Northwood

Sunday 23rd December:

6:30pm            9 Lessons and Carols,  St Laurence Ramsgate

Christmas Eve:

4:00pm            Crib and Christingle, St Catherine, Manston

4:00pm            Christingle, St Laurence, Ramsgate

4:00pm            Christingle, St Mary, Cliffsend

4:00pm            Christingle, St Mark, Northwood

5:30pm            Christingle, St Mary, Cliffsend

11:30pm          Midnight Communion, St Laurence Ramsgate

11:30pm          Midnight Communion, St Mary, Cliffsend

11:30pm          Midnight Communion, St Mark, Northwood

Christmas Day:

10:00am          Family Communion, St Catherine, Manston

10:00am          Family Communion, St Laurence, Ramsgate

10:00am          Family Communion, St Mary, Cliffsend

10:00am          Christmas Morning Service, St Mark, Northwood

Pilgrims Hospices

Chris Laming, 56, from Westbrook,  will take on her fourth Firewalk for Pilgrims Hospices on Friday, March 1 in Canterbury. After completing her first Firewalk in 2016, she became hooked; each walk leaves her feeling inspired and proud to support her local hospice charity.

Chris, who works as an administrator at the University of Kent in Canterbury and recently qualified as a counsellor, chooses to support Pilgrims for a very personal reason:

“A close family friend was cared for by Pilgrims three years ago, and I was incredibly moved to hear his family speak so highly of the dignified and compassionate care both he and they received in his final days, and the comfort that brought them in the depth of their loss.

“He passed away just a short time after we lost my own beloved dad, and I can’t help but reflect with great sadness that our experience as a family was very different. My dad passed suddenly and unexpectedly after a short illness, and though he received very good medical care in hospital from incredibly caring staff, the privacy we needed as a family at such a deeply personal time was almost impossible in a busy hospital environment.”

Chris heard about the charity’s Firewalk event just a few months after her dad passed away. Although it was a difficult time, she felt inspired to challenge herself – and she hasn’t looked back since. She said: “I can’t lie, I’m now totally hooked! From that very first walk I’ve been like ‘a moth to the flame’ so to speak, taking part every year and feeling just as inspired and proud of what I’m achieving, both personally and for Pilgrims, with every single walk. The camaraderie and mutual support from other participants on the night is absolutely incredible; it’s an awesome experience and a totally unique challenge.”

Chris will be joined at her next Firewalk by several colleagues including her boss and good friend, Jayne Lawson, who is taking part for the third time; the university service they work for even has the very apt acronym HEAT. Chris added: “I’m also fortunate to have an amazingly supportive family and close friends who always get behind me, and though I haven’t convinced many of them to join me yet, they are always encouraging and incredibly generous with their sponsorship.”

Driven by a belief that better end-of-life care is possible for everyone, and that dying should be talked about more openly, Chris hopes that her fundraising will help other families to feel informed and empowered in the time they have left together. She said:

“That’s why the holistic support that Pilgrims offers to the whole family is vitally important. If a mad dash across hot coals helps to raise awareness for it, then a few toasted toes is really a small price to pay.”

You can sponsor Chris by visiting her JustGiving page:

Feeling inspired to follow in Chris’ footsteps and face the flames?

Firewalk returns on 1 March 2019 in Canterbury and 2 March 2019 in Ashford.

Visit to sign up now to dash across red hot embers and achieve the impossible. Early Bird entry is £17, available to the first 50 registrations per event or until 20 January 2019, whichever is sooner. Standard entry is £20, available until 24 February 2019 or sooner if capacity is reached. Entry includes training seminar, firewalking experience and certificate.

Westwood Cross Christmas appeal

Westwood Cross shopping centre has launched a Christmas charity appeal called Cosy this Christmas. In partnership with Thanet-based charity, Cheerful Sparrows, the shopping centre is collecting bedding essential items to be donated to local families in need.

In some areas of Thanet, at least half of the children are living at or below the poverty line, and there is a huge demand for new, clean bedding for children and babies.

Janis Buckley, chairman of Cheerful Sparrows and a former headteacher, said: “Every child deserves a good night’s sleep, to feel warm and secure. Sadly, our research shows that many children in Thanet will be facing Christmas on an old mattress on the floor.

“We have been able to provide 40 new beds so far and are delighted to have joined forces with Westwood Cross shopping centre to appeal for new bedding.”

Visitors to the centre are being asked to donate new single size bedding, including pillow cases, duvets, duvet sets, mattress protectors and cot bedding, sheets and cot blankets.  All items must be in their original packaging and can be donated at Guest Services in Westwood Cross by 15th December.

Francesca Donovan, centre manager, said: “Last year we were so moved by the generosity of Westwood Cross visitors and staff who donated new underwear for homeless people looked after by The Gap Project.

“We’re optimistic that this year our shoppers will once again support a local charity, there’s always a great sense of community in Thanet and we’re proud to be a part of it.  With new pillow cases starting from just £2.50 in Primark and single duvet sets for as little as £6 in Wilko, a little generosity can make all the difference.”

Cheerful Sparrows is an independent local charity, dedicated to helping the Thanet community in need, by providing essential items many of us take for granted.

For further information on the charity go to