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Sheerness, Leysdown and Minster visitors reveal what it's really like to visit Sheppey's Blue Flag beaches


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Three of Swale’s beaches are among just four in Kent to have not only be awarded Blue Flag titles but also the summer 2022 Seaside Award.

Last week Sheerness Beach, Leysdown Beach and Minster Leas were recognised by the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, for their cleanliness and excellent facilities.

The Blue Flag plaque at Minster Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
The Blue Flag plaque at Minster Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

Apart from Tankerton they were the only ones to win both honours.

The Blue Flag and Seaside Awards are aimed at improving the quality of England’s coastline and promoting the country’s best beaches.

The prior is presented to well-managed beaches with excellent water quality and environmental education programmes, while the latter is given to the best beaches in England and celebrates the quality and diversity of our coastline.

The accolades come just a week after Sheppey’s offerings were snubbed by a Which? guide to the best seaside towns - with Deal coming out on top for Kent.

So with the Island sweeping the board with awards on one hand, but being entirely ignored by tourism bosses on the other, being acknowledged for their tourist friendly qualities we spoke to the Island’s beachgoers on Saturday to see what they really thought.

Sheerness Beach is one of three beaches on Sheppey to be awarded the Blue Flag title. Picture: Megan Carr
Sheerness Beach is one of three beaches on Sheppey to be awarded the Blue Flag title. Picture: Megan Carr

Dee and Milton Katsanza were spending their afternoon at Sheerness Beach discussing plans for their 34th wedding anniversary the following week.

The 58 and 61-year-olds from Rochester said: “The beach here is very clean, we are very impressed.

“We’ve previously been to beaches in Sandwich and it is much nicer here.”

Milton explained: “It is also great here because of the convenience of things, just behind you is a Tesco, everything is in travelling distance.”

Dee agreed, adding: “It is our first time to this beach and it isn’t far from where we live, it is great to get some fresh air whilst planning our anniversary.”

Dee and Milton Katsanza at Sheerness Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Dee and Milton Katsanza at Sheerness Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

Catherine, 64, and Gerald Groves, 85, were also enjoying the weekend sunshine.

The couple from Rainham explained how Sheerness is underrated.

Gerald, who was born on the Island, said: “It definitely deserves the awards.

“I’ve always walked along this coastline, used to walk all the way to Minster.”

Catherine added: “Our relatives always used to swim here but today we just like to come and observe!”

Catherine and Gerald Groves at Sheerness Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Catherine and Gerald Groves at Sheerness Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

Another family utilising the beach were Iain, 61, Judy, 47, and Charles Scadeng, six.

Iain, from Shorne near Gravesend, said: “Sheerness Beach is the best beach within a reasonable distance to us.

“We never really travel to Thanet, it is always here, Reculver or Whitstable.

“The beach is clean, under populated and most people don’t even know about it.

“You’ve also got the park, sandpit and Tesco so there is lots going for it.”

Iain, Judy and Charles Scadeng at Sheerness Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Iain, Judy and Charles Scadeng at Sheerness Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

However, Iain explained that he did have concerns with some of the beach users.

He added: “There are rules for the beach and sadly not everyone sticks to them.

“You can’t bring your dog to this beach during the summer months but sadly some still do.

“If you can’t stick to the rules you shouldn’t come here. We have a dog but it stays at home during the times they’re not allowed on the beach.

“We still bring them in the winter though, it is just about respecting the rules.”

Minster Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Minster Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

At Minster Leas seafront there was another family enjoying their time near the water.

Fiona, 53, and Damien Griffiths, 40, from Greenhithe were visiting the island with their daughter, Danielle Hughes.

Damien, who used to live in Minster, said: “We love it, we always come here.

“We don’t really go anywhere else, if we go to Whitstable it is only for the town.”

Their 28-year-old daughter, from Gravesend and her children, Tiffany, 12, and Lexi Hughes, 7, and 10-year-old Nicolas Hacker also visit regularly.

Damien Griffiths, Tiffany Griffiths and Nicolas Hacker at Minster Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Damien Griffiths, Tiffany Griffiths and Nicolas Hacker at Minster Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

Fiona added: “We come to Minster often as its close and easy to get to, it isn’t built up and there are lots of little shops and a kiosk as well.”

In Leysdown, Beach Hut worker, Jack Cardwell, was selling doughnuts and sweets to some very happy tourists.

The 16-year-old, from Queenborough, said: “We get lots of London tourists here and I love working here.

“The only problem with it though that may put some people off is that dogs can’t go on the beach.

“However the awards, the arcades and beaches really bring people here.

Beach Hut worker, Jack Cardwell at Leysdown Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Beach Hut worker, Jack Cardwell at Leysdown Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

“I 100% recommend it to everyone, the weather is temperamental and it does get windy but I would definitely have a holiday here.”

Gemma Bailey, daughter Paige and her children, Aylah Campbell, eight, and Jax Bailey, four, come to Leysdown almost every year.

From Grove Park, London, Gemma said: “We used to come here every August, it’s the closest and cheapest beach for us.

“I’ve been coming since I was seven, it has always either been Leysdown or Southend for us.

“I don’t mean this in a mean way but Leysdown is a poor peoples’ seaside, but it does what it needs to.”

Gemma and Paige Bailey at Leysdown Beach. Picture: Megan Carr
Gemma and Paige Bailey at Leysdown Beach. Picture: Megan Carr

Paige agreed explaining the beach was even lovelier when the tide is in.

Sheerness Beach has had the Blue Flag since 2015, Minster Leas since 2016 and it has been awarded to Leysdown since 2018, with the exception of 2019.

Cllr Monique Bonney, cabinet member for economy at Swale council, said: “Our Blue Flags have arrived in time for summer and we’re looking forward to welcoming tourists down to visit our award-winning coastline.

“The Blue Flags show visitors that our beaches are clean and safe, and that they meet the highest environmental and bathing water quality standards.”

Other beaches across Kent that were given the Blue Flag title included, Tankerton, and Thanet beaches Botany Bay, Joss Bay, Minnis Bay, West Bay, St Mildreds, Margate Main Sands and Stone Bay.

Leysdown Beach on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Megan Carr
Leysdown Beach on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Megan Carr

The Seaside Award was also won by 12 other beaches in the county.

They are, Reculver, a non-bathing beach, Herne Bay, Tankerton, Dymchurch, Ramsgate Main Sands, Westbrook Bay, Viking Bay, Broadstairs and Sandgate Beach.

The charity’s chief executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “The success of these beaches in reaching the very high standards demanded is testament to all those who have worked so hard to protect and improve our blue spaces – from beach managers and volunteers to local residents and businesses.

“The huge commitment needed to maintain marvellous beaches worthy of these awards cannot be underestimated.

“People who visit a beach flying a Blue Flag or Seaside Award can be assured the beach will be clean, safe and meet the highest environmental standards, as well as international bathing water quality standards.”

To find out more about Swale beaches click here.

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