On Tuesday last week I joined Amanda King, the head of the youth provision at the Romney Resource Centre in New Romney, for their study programme awards presentation. Amanda and her team support many young people from the Romney Marsh area, and further afield, by delivering training programmes that help to prepare them for work. The Romney Resource Centre has created an informal but structured study environment that has successfully supported many young people who did not achieve their potential in their previous school or college. They have now made progress, obtained qualifications and some have already found work before they complete the course. It was great to meet so many of the young people who have taken the opportunity that they have been given by the Romney Resource Centre, and worked hard to achieve their results.
The Romney Resource Centre’s work with young people has now been recognised by Ofsted, who in its recent inspection have rated the provision as ‘Good’. For nearly twenty years, the Centre has provided careers and skills advice, training, education and employment support for those aged 16-18 and older. I would like to congratulate the Centre’s chief executive, Edna Delaney, the Board of Trustees, and the team at the Romney Resource Centre for all they have achieved to support the local community.
This week marks the centenary of the start of the Battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the First World War. Also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, there would be over half a million casualties on both sides, until the British finally captured their objective, the Passchendaele ridge, in November 1917. The main Commonwealth War Graves cemetery for those who lost their lives in the battle is at Tyne Cot. Here over 11,000 men are buried, three quarters of whom could not be identified after their deaths. There is a further memorial wall commemorating over 35,000 soldiers killed in the battle, who have no known grave. Tyne Cot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the world, for any conflict. I first visited it with my school when I was 15 years old, and many schools continue to visit it every year, as part of their studies into the First World War. In December 2013, I also joined students from Folkestone’s Pent Valley school, when they visited Tyne Cot and where introduced to the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, who was there to lay a wreath commemorating the war dead, alongside the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny.
Many of the men who fought and died at Passchendaele would have made their final journey from home, to the trenches of the western front, through the port of Folkestone. There were over ten million movements of servicemen through the town during the war. On this Sunday, 6th August, Step Short, Folkestone’s First World War centenary charity, will be holding a special service of commemoration under the Arch on The Leas, at 11am, where we will remember the casualties of Passchendaele, and all of the service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice during that terrible war.