The educational landscape of Folkestone and Cheriton will change in September with the opening of the new Turner Free School, the successor to Pent Valley Technology College. Last Friday I met with Jo Saxton the chief executive of Turner Schools, who are responsible for the launch of the new free school, as well as running the Folkestone Academy, and Martello and Morehall primaries, to discuss the progress they are making. We were also joined by Kristina Yates, who will be the head of the new school, following a career where she has also held senior positions at both the Folkestone School for Girls, and the Marsh Academy. It is great to see that when the Turner Free School opens its doors in September that it will have filled all of its places for the year seven entry form. This already stands as a remarkable statement of confidence from local families in the new school, and is in stark contrast to the final years of the old. The leadership team for the Free School are clearly excited about what they can deliver and achieve for their future pupils, and I look forward to visiting them when it opens next term.
I was delighted last Friday, to also be invited to open the latest part of the restoration of the Port Lympne mansion. The Moorish Patio, is a decorative open courtyard in the centre of the house, which was inspired by Sir Philip Sassoon’s trips to Spain and Morocco after the First World War. I’m sure this will be a popular feature for visitors to Port Lympne, as well as for people organising events at the mansion. Port Lympne has gone from strength to strength over the last few years in terms of investment in onsite accommodation. This has made it a major local employer the leisure and tourism industry. Its work has been recognised by being shortlisted for national tourism awards, and has attracted more visitors to come and stay in our area; which is good for many more local businesses. I would like to congratulate Bob O’Connor and his team at the Port Lympne on the delivery of another excellent and innovative project.
At the time of writing this column, I would also like to send my best wishes to Folkestone Invicta for their Kent Senior Cup final against Maidstone United, and for their forthcoming Bostik Premier League play off matches. I’m sure as well that Hythe Town will be able to secure their place in the South Division play-offs with a fine result at home against Corinthian Casuals on Saturday. Congratulations are due to both clubs for the excellent seasons they have enjoyed so far.
Finally, I would like to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son on Monday. What could be more English, than for the newest member of the Royal Family to be delivered on St George’s Day.