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Review of the year 2017, January to June, including Banksy mural and MP Charlie Elphicke in terror lockdown

By Sam Lennon

JANUARY

The year 2017 had a dreadful start when three people died falling from the White Cliffs of Dover on New Year’s Day.

Twins Muriel and Bernard Burgess, 59, from Cheshire, were found dead by chance when emergency services were looking for ex-soldier Scott Enion, 45, from Manchester.

This was after witnesses had seen him jump.

Coroner Patricia Harding ruled that Mr Enion had committed suicide but gave an open conclusion for the twins as nobody had seen what made them fall.

Cora Mitchard after being hit in the face by a beer can. Picture courtesy of Cora Mitchard
Cora Mitchard after being hit in the face by a beer can. Picture courtesy of Cora Mitchard

A woman was left almost completely blind in one eye after being hit by a beer can.

Cora Mitchard, 24, from Medway, was injured outside the Port Arms pub in Deal at 10.40am on New Year’s Eve.

She was later told she would only regain 5% to 15% of her sight in that eye.

Nathan Cook, 20, of Hyton Drive, Deal, in a later court case admitted throwing the can.

He was trying to hit a bouncer who had tasered him, Canterbury Crown Court heard, and

Ms Mitchard was an innocent bystander.

FEBRUARY

A car hurtled through a wall and smashed into a front room while a family of three slept at Hamilton Road, Deal. The driver fled the scene.

Householder Judy Littlewood, 27, said she had slept in that room the night before with her poorly son and if it happened then they could have both been injured.

A large supermarket in the heart of Dover closed on February 11.

The Co-Operative at Stembrook, near Castle Street, ceased trading after seven years.

An elderly man was shut into a cupboard by a burglar who barged his way into his home at Branch Street, Dover, on February 13.

The raider had called on the victim, in his late 80s, the day before to ask for money for petrol and had been given it.

The victim suffered minor cuts and bruising.

MARCH

The tribute for Dame Vera Lynn's 100th birthday. The bluebird model could not be put up because of high winds
The tribute for Dame Vera Lynn's 100th birthday. The bluebird model could not be put up because of high winds

Celebrations for Dame Vera Lynn’s 100th birthday took place on the White Cliffs of Dover on March 20 on the South Foreland Lighthouse at St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe.

But plans to put up three giant bluebird structures had to be dropped because of high winds. They had to be left flat on the ground during a salute for her.

Dame Vera was the Forces’ Sweetheart during the Second World War and one of her most famous songs was (There’ll be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover.

A former bandsman at Deal barracks in the 1989 bombing says no one in the town would be sorry at the death of Martin McGuinness.

The former IRA commander turned politician, who died on March 21 aged 66, received tributes for his role in the Northern Ireland peace process.

However, John Pring said he backed Norman Tebbit who said that he hoped McGuinness was “parked in a particularly hot and unpleasant corner of hell for the rest of eternity.”

A total 11 Royal Marines were killed in the bombing at Deal on September 22, 1989.
Mr Pring says all the victims were his personal friends.

Norman Tebbit was a cabinet minister for Margaret Thatcher and in 1984 was one of the victims in the IRA Brighton bombing.

Charlie Elphicke was one of the Kent MPs kept in the House of Commons during a lockdown following a terror attack.

Fanatic Khalid Masood killed three pedestrians with his car on Westminster Bridge on March 22.

He then rammed the gates of the Houses of Parliament and stabbed a policeman to death before being shot dead.

Mr Elphicke and his colleagues were unharmed.

He remained in the complex for three-and-a-half hours and later told of armed police sweeping through Parliament searching for other possible attackers.

A national newspaper beamed the words “Dover & Out” on the White Cliffs to signal the start of Brexit.
The Sun did this on March 29, the day of the delivery of Britain’s letter to the EU triggering Article 50, the process for leaving the European Union.

APRIL

A well-being centre for people with mental heath problems opened in Deal on April 3.

The base, at the Spires Cafe at the The Landmark Centre, was set up by the support group Talk It Out.

The cause had been given a huge boost that month by Prince Harry opening up about his anguish from the death of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, 20 years before.

Both he and his brother Prince William, with sister-in-law Kate, gave an enormous push against the stigma of mental health problems during 2017 with their spearheading of the group Heads Together.

A crashed car was left near the edge of the White Cliffs in April.
A crashed car was left near the edge of the White Cliffs in April.

A car almost went over the White Cliffs of Dover in a hair-raising accident on April 24.

The Renault Clio ended up at the bottom of a steep slope and tipped onto its nose on a footpath just in front of a sheer drop.

The driver, a man in his 30s, escaped with only minor injuries.

Florin Marin and Philip Clements on their wedding day
Florin Marin and Philip Clements on their wedding day

A retired vicar wed a man 54 years his junior and demanded a remaining barrier to gay marriage be broken.

The Rev Philip Clements, 78, of Eastry, called on the Church of England to allow same-sex marriage for clergy.

Mr Clements had to sacrifice his personal life throughout his career because clergy can only have celibate same-sex relationships.

Mr Clements married Romanian model Florin Marin, 24, at Ramsgate Register Office on April 25.

Sadly the couple separated by the end of the year and Mr Clements moved back to Kent from Romania.

A mother was jailed on April 27 after her young daughter drank a fatal dose of a heroin substitute.

Lucy King left methadone in a measuring cup on the floor behind the TV the night before she was due to take it.

Two-year-old Frankie Hedgecock swallowed the green liquid in June 2015 while King was dozing on the sofa at her then home in De Burgh Street, Dover.

King, 39, now of London Road, Dover, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years by Maidstone Crown Court after she was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence.

MAY

Labour lost all four of their seats in the Kent County Council election on May 4.

Seasoned councillors were thrown out: Mike Eddy and Eileen Rowbotham in Deal and, in Dover, Pam Brivio and group wonleader Gordon Cowan.

The Conservatives got all seven places for Dover, Deal and Sandwich, having originally held just three.

The Tories held power overall at County Hall with a vengeance, now having 67 out of 81 seats – an increase to 83% from 55%.

The only consolation for Labour in Dover that day is that they held one seat and gained another in district by-elections.

One winner was Nathaniel Richards, best known for running the first social supermarket of its kind in the town, Nifties.

Elusive artist Banksy crept into Dover and painted a Brexit themed mural last Sunday
Elusive artist Banksy crept into Dover and painted a Brexit themed mural last Sunday

Dover was stunned by the sudden appearance of a giant Banksy artwork on May 7.

The mural symbolising Brexit was on the flank wall of the former Castle Amusements Arcade in Townwall Street.

The building turned out to be owned by the Goddens of Folkestone.

They are the family of the late high-profile entrepreneur Jimmy Godden, former owner of the Rotunda site in that town.

An eight-year-old boy struck by cancer was able to ring the all-clear bell on May 11.

Blue Tobin, of Elvington, carried out the ceremony when he returned to London’s Royal Marsden Hospital on the fifth anniversary of his pioneering treatment.

He was completely cured of an aggressive form of leukaemia.

Blue needed a potentially fatal double dose of chemotherapy, in a cocktail usually for adults only, when he was three, for him to have a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

He was the first child to specifically have this kind of treatment.

Former Dover mayor Veronica “Ronnie” Philpott died on May 26 after a battle with motor neurone disease.

She was in her 73rd year and was the town’s first citizen in 2011/12 and 2013/14.

A cabaret night for the Motor Neurone Disease Association was held in October in her memory and that of Temple Ewell Players actress Linda Clarke.

She had died from the same condition last year.

Two other former Dover mayors died in 2017, Bill Newman in August and George Allt in November.

A man hanged himself from Deal Pier on Bank Holiday Monday, May 29.

The horrific scene was witnessed by an 11-year-old girl and two fishermen.

Rasmus Weinhardt, 61, of Clanwilliam Road, Deal, decapitated himself and his body had to be recovered from the sea.

A coroner at his inquest that August concluded that Mr Weinhardt, had taken his own life
A note he left to police said that he had done this because of “total bankruptcy”.

JUNE

The image of Theresa May on the White Cliffs just before the general election in June. Picture courtesy of Simon Hare
The image of Theresa May on the White Cliffs just before the general election in June. Picture courtesy of Simon Hare

A huge structure of Theresa May giving a V-sign was put up on the White Cliffs of Dover.

It was thought to be a comment on Brexit as her image, near St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe, was draped in a Union flag and facing the Continent.

It appeared for one day, June 5, and was meant to coincide with the start of talks that week between Britain and the EU over the departure. Bookies Paddy Power were later revealed to be behind the stunt.

The image was also put up three days before Mrs May’s snap general election where her Conservative majority was lost.

But our two Tory MPs, Charlie Elphicke at Dover and Craig Mackinlay in South Thanet, kept their seats.

Norman Wisdom look-alike Glenn Ford at his hero's namesake pub in June
Norman Wisdom look-alike Glenn Ford at his hero's namesake pub in June

A Norman Wisdom tribute actor appeared at the pub named after his comic hero.

Look-alike Glenn Ford visited the Sir Norman Wisdom in Queen Street, Deal, on June 12, at the end of a six-day 135-mile sponsored walk for the Sir Norman Wisdom Memorial Foundation.

This was to provide a minibus for children at Mr Ford’s home town in Gosport, Hampshire.

Two vanloads of supplies left from Dover to help victims of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The food and drinks, toiletries, baby wipes, nappies, towels and blankets, were delivered to those left homeless and destitute by the blaze in north Kensington, London, on June 14.

The supplies where gathered after a call for help by Nathaniel Richards, a councillor and boss of the social supermarket Nifties in Dover High Street.

The gigantic tower block blaze killed 71 people.

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