Published: 17:29, 21 August 2020
| Updated: 17:32, 21 August 2020
Businessman Sean D’Alton has bought up all supplies of Sheppey rock - so he can give it away for free.
He said: “I’ve been reading features about Sheppey’s latest bid for tourist recognition and have been blown away by the new enthusiasm for the Island.
Video: Scroll down for KMTV report
“So I thought I’d put my money where my mouth is and give Islanders and visitors a little treat on me.”
He’s bought a box of rock from newsagents BA Fitch in Sheerness High Street and then asked staff to keep it under the counter.
Sean, who runs Euro Training Services from his home in Minster said: “Anyone who goes into the shop and says the secret phrase ‘I Love Sheppey’ will get a free stick as long as supplies last.
“I want people to feel proud about the Island. This is a great place to live and work.”
Shop owner Martin Fitch added: “I’m happy to help.”
A whole new army of visitors are beginning to recognise the appeal of the Island’s many delights after being forced to stay at home following the coronavirus lockdown.
The latest to turn the spotlight on Kent’s ‘holiday isle’ was KMTV whose reporter Kristina Curtis spent a day on location discovering what Sheppey had to offer.
One of the people she interviewed was Georgina Fulton who runs Elmley Nature Reserve with her husband Gareth. Guests at the 3,300 acres of wild countryside can spend the night in a converted shepherd’s hut and wake to sunrise over the mist-covered marshes.
Mrs Fulton said: “Most of our visitors come from quite close. Many just nip over the water from Faversham or Whitstable . It feels like a complete holiday just half an hour away from home, which is lovely.
“Sheppey is just beautiful. It is stunning. We are in a wilderness of wildlife, waterways, owls, hares and rabbits.
“People really want the chance to stop and rest. They have had so much time on screens during lockdown with Zoom conferences or home-schooling that they want the kids to have a bit of time and space to be freer, have a run or just detox.”
The Guardian has already uncovered one of Kent's hidden gems with a glowing review of a stay in a seafront cabin at Shellness and the Times named Elmley as one of the top 30 ‘wild escapes’ in the UK with its self-catering cabins from £85 a night.
One convert is Paul Aspin from Borden near Sittingbourne whose wife Gaynor booked a shepherd’s hut for a surprise break.
He said: “We had walked around the reserve before but had never stayed there. The facilities are high quality, extremely well appointed and private.
“To wake and watch the hares running around nearby to the accompaniment of the dawn chorus was quite magical. There was no traffic noise and as much wildlife as you could see anywhere in the country - and just 15 minutes from our home.
“People will happily drive to the Lake District, the wilds of Wales or the West Country for idyllic venues but here is everything you could wish for on our doorstep.”