Katherine Purvis

Freelance journalist and commissioning editor

Kentish Express

This page features all my by-line articles from my work placement at the Kentish Express in Ashford, Kent in May and June 2012.

“Loving Gift for Becky”

(Front page splash – Hythe & Romney Marsh edition – Thursday 6th June 2012)

FRIENDS and family of Rebekah Alderson, who died in a car crash earlier this year, have raised an incredible £13,000 in her memory.

The 24-year-old from Littlestone died in a three-vehicle accident on the A2070 on Good Friday, April 6.

Her family and friends organised a sponsored fun run in her memory last month and almost 200 runners raised about £13,000 for Dogs Trust Canterbury, as Becky was a big dog lover.

A cheque will be given to the charity during a presentation afternoon at Bar Vasa in Sandgate on Saturday. It is hoped that the donation from Becky’s family and friends will help the centre care for over 600 stray dogs each year and will improve the centre’s facilities.

Miss Alderson worked as a personal adviser in the careers guidance service Connexions in Dover. She had a first class honours degree in history and social anthropology and was a former member of Folkestone Running Club.

Friend Dannielle Hazelwood, who helped organise the run, said: “Becky was an avid runner and absolutely loved dogs so it seemed to be the best way to commemorate her life. But no amount of money will ever be enough from our point of view.”

“Young and old are keen to try out new ballet classes”

(Page 4 – Tenterden edition – Thursday 7th June 2012)

NEW ballet classes at Tenterden Leisure Centre are proving to be a hit among children and adults alike.

The leisure centre started offering the sessions last month after the teacher, Emma Rourke, moved her classes from her own dance school in Tenterden.

Twenty adults have joined in a new approach to staying fit and healthy and around 40 children attend on a Tuesday. There are even some budding young Billy Elliots getting involved, with two boys attending.

The classes, which are all aimed at beginners, take a relaxed approach to ballet and participants can wear whatever comfortable clothing they like.

“What we do is fun, we’re not doing exams,” said Mrs Rourke, whose parents were dancers with the Royal Festival Ballet.

“It’s a really good way of getting children to be active in a fun way. It’s also good for their co-ordination, balance, motor skills and brains because they have to learn to string things together.”

Sophie Ray, children’s co-ordinator at the leisure centre, said that the adults taking part were either rediscovering old hobbies or trying something new.

“It’s a good chance to try it now. It’s never too late to do ballet dancing,” she said.

“Emotional bike ride raises military charity funds”

(Page 17 – Ashford, Tenterden and Hythe & Romney Marsh editions – Thursday 7th June 2012)

A CHARITY bike rider from Ashford has told of the “emotional” experience of completing a gruelling 350-mile bike ride in aid of Help for Heroes.

Emma Willis and her partner Neil Barritt from Ashford were part of a team of 270 cyclists riding from Portsmouth to Dunkirk in northern France for the charity’s Big Battlefield Bike Ride. Robert Watsham from Tenterdon also took part.

The team, joined by six wounded British soldiers and 25 Canadian Wounded Warriors, cycled through the battlefields of the Somme and attended ceremonies at key memorial sites along the route including Vimy Ridge and Thiepval.

The bike ride was an especially personal experience for the couple as Miss Willis has two brothers serving in the military and Mr Barritt is a sergeant with the Royal Signals in Wiltshire.

After cycling for five days, the team reached the promenade in Dunkirk and were saluted by a Spitfire flypast before taking part in a ‘Memorial de Souvenir’ ceremony.

Speaking about the bike ride, Miss Willis said: “It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. It was up and down all week, but it was an honour to be part of the whole group cycling through and stopping at each of the monuments.”

To date, the 2012 Big Battlefield Bike Ride has raised more than £400,000 for the charity, which provides practical support for injured service personnel. Miss Willis and her partner Neil have raised £5,000 themselves and will take part in a 77-mile bike ride for Help for Heroes in Catterick, North Yorkshire, at the end of July.

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