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Millennium babies who have footprints in Whatman Park memorial in Maidstone - 20 years on

A family is "disappointed" that a park installation to mark the Millennium, featuring hundreds of babies' hand and footprints, has been left "overgrown and neglected".

However, Maidstone Borough Council, which is responsible for Whatman Park in Maidstone ,says the paving stones are cleaned annually and work is due to begin this week.

Olive Lindsay remembers visiting the County Town in 2000 and going to the new park, where her two granddaughters were helping build a memorial to the Millennium.

After recently moving to Maidstone to be near her family, Mrs Lindsay went to revisit the tablets but was saddened by what she found.

She said: "To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. When I found the site, which is not marked on the map, I was directed down a pathway and walked by the site without recognising it. It has been badly neglected, covered in dirt and weeds.

"The names, in many cases, are unable to be read and nothing is there to indicate its significance.

"Surely this site should be a feature of the park, considerable effort and resources having been put into it 20 years ago."

Megan and Lizzy Lindsay getting their footprints taken at Whatman Park in the year 2000
Megan and Lizzy Lindsay getting their footprints taken at Whatman Park in the year 2000

Mrs Lindsay's daughter-in-law, Joanne remembers going to the park with her daughter Lizzy Lindsay and niece Megan Lindsay along with other members of the two families.

Casts of the girls' tiny toes were taken using soft cement. In total, 360 babies had their prints permanently fixed in the riverside park.

Lizzy and Megan were less than a year old when the casts were taken, so don't have any recollection of the event but have obviously both changed a lot since then.

Lizzy has just finished her second year of culture studies at the University of Kent.

Before this, she went to Sandling Primary and Invicta Grammar and then to Oakwood Park for sixth form.

The 19-year-old says she was an "outgoing" child, and has fond memories of meeting up with friends on her bike on Penenden Heath from an early age.

Megan and Lizzy with Lizzy's dad, Rob
Megan and Lizzy with Lizzy's dad, Rob

As a teenager, Lizzy spent most of her time "hanging around in town, in Brenchley Gardens or in the cabin in my garden which had a TV and sofas" with her large circle of friends, many of whom were from Valley Park School.

Studying sociology, psychology and media at sixth form, Lizzy also secured part-time jobs at Boots, Next and Argos during her school years.

For Lizzy, moving to university was a very good decision. She said: "I think it was definitely good to get out of Maidstone, it's quite a bubble, and you don't realise how much of a bubble it is until you leave.

"I've also got to meet people from all over the world and gone to visit some of them abroad."

Lizzy, who works at Energy Kidz Holiday Club in Maidstone in the summer, isn't sure what she wants to do when she finishes uni, but says she would love to do something which helps people.

Lizzy, 19, has just finished her second year at the University of Kent
Lizzy, 19, has just finished her second year at the University of Kent

Megan and her little brother Jacob are Lizzy's only cousins. They used to spend quite a lot of time together when they were small but Lizzy says they were always interested in different things.

She said: "Megan was more the nice one and I was the troublemaker."

Megan says she used to "cry quite a lot" as a baby, with her mum, Clare quipping she was a "neurotic" child.

The 20-year-old, who lives with her family in East Farleigh, has just finished a two-year interior design course at Mid Kent College.

She is now hoping to carry on with the same subject at Norwich University from September.

Megan, 20, is now studying interior design and is due to start university this September
Megan, 20, is now studying interior design and is due to start university this September

As well as a passion for design, Megan also loves dancing and has been taking classes since she was three, mostly with a group run by Boughton Monchelsea Primary School, which she also attended.

She later went to Cornwallis Academy, where she says she improved on a lot of subjects she found difficult at primary school.

"I was quite an anxious child but I liked it at Cornwallis and grew to really enjoy English. I took English, dance and business at A-level," she said.

It was her mum's love of interior design which inspired Megan to take this direction after school.

Megan said: "My mum has always had a passion for it and from an early age, I was always enthusiastic about helping."

Lizzy and Megan with their grandma, Olive
Lizzy and Megan with their grandma, Olive

Alongside her education, Megan also has a job as a shop assistant in Monsoon, which she feels has made her more confident.

She said: "I used to be very shy, but working in retail and having to talk to lots of different people has definitely grown my confidence."

The council says it is "sorry to learn that the Millennium Babies handprints in Whatman Park have been reported as overgrown" but assures "they are cleaned annually which includes jet-washing, weeding and general maintenance by the council’s grounds maintenance team."

Work is currently scheduled to be carried out from this week.

A spokesman added: "The cleaning will help make the artwork more visible to visitors to the park.

"Unfortunately, due to the proximity of the prints (being situated on the ground, footfall and not being protected from weather elements), they have become more damaged and worn over the years.

"However, MBC does still have all the information including names and location of hand prints of those who took part if anyone should need to acquire it."

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