Thanet community news: Fundraiser for Aurora, Ramsgate RNLI, St Laurence school, QEQM and SONIK

Raising money for Aurora Pile-Gray (Photo Keisha Pile-Gray)

South East Coast Ambulance Service

Ambulance crews in Thanet have joined in with the fundraising efforts to support a local girl who is battling an aggressive form of blood cancer.

Children are invited to enter a drawing competition featuring rainbows and ‘NHS superhero’ designs which will feature in a 2021 calendar.

The £1 entry cost will be donated to the fundraising efforts for nine-year-old Aurora Pile-Gray, from Westbrook, who was diagnosed with stage 4 Burkitt lymphoma in May and may need to seek treatment in America.

The competition is split into four age groups, 0-4, 5-7, 8-11 and 12-16. Three winners will be selected from each age group to feature in the calendar. Aurora will be designing the calendar front cover herself and is head judge.

Entries should be sent to Thanet Make Ready Centre in Ramsgate, (full address below) before the closing date of 4 December with the child’s first name, age and parent/guardian contact details on the reverse.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) paramedic, Natalie Spain said: “Earlier this year I had started organising a Christmas party for the station as we were in need of some togetherness in such a challenging year. But sadly, of course, this wasn’t possible and the event was cancelled.

“After learning about Aurora, we wanted to help. We started a fundraising page and we donated our Christmas party deposits. We also organised a Christmas raffle with kind donations from local shops, restaurants and businesses. But I didn’t want it to stop there which is why we thought of the idea of a calendar. I’m sure we’ll get some amazing entries and bring a bit of sunshine for 2021.

Competition entry donations can be made via JustGiving here

Aurora’s mum, Keisha is writing a blog on Aurora’s journey so far which can be viewed at

Entries should be sent to: Calendar competition, C/O Natalie Spain, Thanet Make Ready Centre, Haine Road, Ramsgate, CT12 5AB

Ramsgate RNLI

Riley Williams, aged 9 years old, loves fishing! He and his Dad, Joseph, have been regular passengers onboard the Lady Ann, a charter fishing  boat owned by Jason Parrott volunteer member of Ramsgate RNLI crew, since Riley was four years old.

Whilst out to sea, Riley would ask owner Jason questions about his role in the RNLI, absolutely fascinated with the fact that the majority of the crew were volunteers, and questioning how they raised money for all the equipment and boats. Not surprising his favourite television program is Saving Lives at Sea.
So it was natural that Riley attended the annual junior fishing competition started four years ago, and held at Ramsgate RNLI station which is organised by Jason and his wife Dawn, and  which has raised over thirteen thousand pounds for the RNLI.

Local fishing boats donate their time to take groups of children out, with every child receiving a medal, goody bag, tee shirt and fishing rod and reel which are donated by local businesses. Riley attended his first competition in 2018 and in 2019 at the grand age of 7, won the Gary Dunk and John Parrott Memorial Trophy for raising over two hundred and sixty five pounds of sponsorship on his own.

And then we come to 2020 when the majority of fundraising events had to be cancelled, including the fishing competition. Riley, who has only recently turned nine, was determined to still do his part to support his beloved RNLI.
Helped by his mum Charlotte, Riley set up a just giving page called Riley’s Rambling 10 miles, with the aim to raise two hundred pounds to be split between Ramsgate RNLI and Riley’s school St. John’s C of E Primary School in Maidstone.

So on Saturday 21 November Riley and his parents set off to walk ten miles from the Black Horse pub in Thurnham, across the very muddy North Downs to the Dirty Habit pub and back. It was a lovely sunny day for a walk and Riley succeeded in doubling his sponsorship goal, achieving so far, just under four hundred pounds.

Ian Cannon, coxswain of Ramsgate RNLI, said: “This is a fantastic achievement, and we are so grateful to Riley and his family for their fundraising efforts in such a difficult year. We rely solely on donations and fund raising from the public, and without support like this we would struggle to continue our role of saving lives. We look forward to inviting all of our juniors back to next year’s fishing competition.”

Report Karen Cox

St Laurence C of E Junior Academy

The National Lockdown didn’t stop children at St Laurence C of E Junior Academy from celebrating Remembrance Day with their usual dedication.

Many of the pupils would normally parade and lay poppy wreaths on Remembrance Sunday. Instead pupils were invited to wear their organisation uniforms into school for the day. They had a fantastic mix of services, ranging from Scouts, Brownies, Sea Cadets and St John Ambulance. The children looked incredibly smart and St. Laurence Junior Academy are very proud to have them as part of their school community.

One Year 5 pupil said: “I loved wearing my St John Ambulance uniform into school on Wednesday because not many people know about my organisation and it was interesting to share that with them. It also helped me remember why we celebrate Remembrance Day and have a 2-minute silence.”

Head of History and Geography, Sarah Mountjoy said: “The children always enjoy celebrating Remembrance Day and taking part in activities where they can learn and show their thanks to those who have served.”

The day started off with a special virtual Remembrance service led by Reverend Andrew Jacobson and the school’s Year 6 Worship leaders. Each year group then took part in separate activities such as origami, making Anderson Shelters, writing Haiku poetry and poppy making.

As we they do every year at St Laurence, the children contributed to our Field of Remembrance – writing messages of thanks on poppies and crosses which were displayed outside our school. The colourful messages and reds poppies are a reminder of hope, peace, support and remembrance to anyone visiting the school.

Mrs Mountjoy added: “As a Historical England Heritage school, it is really important to us that we allow the children to learn about the events that have shaped our world. Teaching Remembrance is a key responsibility of schools, as it teaches our children about the sacrifice that all those have made in the past for our country and the significance of sharing in the commemoration of this.”

QEQM Hospital

Dr Zach Tsiamoulos

Medics and surgeons from across the globe will be able to watch live endo-surgery from the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate next month.

Staff at the QEQM, run by East Kent Hospitals, are holding an international course in endosurgery, including live-streaming several operations using an endoscope – a thin tube with a camera on the end that gives surgeons a close-up view inside the body and treat precancerous lesions.

The two-day course will have a truly international flavour, with live-streaming from hospitals in America, Spain, India and Japan as well.

Dr Zach Tsiamoulos, East Kent Hospitals’ endoscopy lead, and a consultant in gastroenterology, said it was the first of its kind to take place from a Trust hospital.

He said: “We are incredibly proud to be running this first national and international virtual course.

“It is part of our commitment to education and training, which has continued throughout the coronavirus pandemic as we have found new ways to share our knowledge and experience with colleagues across the world.

“I feel very privileged to be involved in this and grateful to everyone involved in making it happen.”

As well as live-streamed operations, delegates will be able to watch lectures given by experts from each country in various aspects of endoscopic surgery and treatment. There will also be sessions on the use of Artificial Intelligence within therapeutic and screening endoscopy procedures.

Endoscopists and surgeons will share practical tips for operating using an endoscope, and the live surgeries will involve different parts of the body including the oesophagus and colon.

The event takes place on 14 and 15 December 2020, with registration free.

For more information, or to register, see


SONIK campaigners Photo Frank Leppard

Health campaigners are calling for the bosses of East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust to be sacked.

They say the trust, whose hospitals include Margate, Canterbury and Ashford, is guilty of “negligence and incompetence.”

SONIK (Save Our NHS in Kent) chair Jon Flaig said: “For years the trust executives have presided over poor practice, medical disasters and negligence in our local health service. It is long time for them all to go.”

He said: “Last July deaths from Covid in their hospitals accounted for almost a quarter of all deaths in England.”

“They’re now going to be prosecuted over the death of seven-day-old baby Harry Rachford — as well as being subject to an ongoing investigation into the other baby deaths in the trust.”
“They have also played a decisive part in the process which may end in the permanent closure of Thanet’s only stroke unit in Margate hospital. Not only do our current NHS bosses have to go but we have to have a new system in which the people who run our hospitals are truly accountable to the public.”

SONIK has launched a petition calling for the sacking of the bosses of the trust which can be found on