Rusthall Village Association

DATE: Wednesday 17th May 2017
VENUE: Rusthall Village Club
TIME: 1930 hours

Committee members present: Alex Britcher: Chair, Beryl Woodall, Hazel Duncombe, Nigel Suckling

Apologies received from the following committee member: Sue White

1. Chair's Report:

Alex Britcher welcomed everyone to the meeting.


Susan Rogers, Customer Service Development Librarian from Tunbridge Wells Library

Susan introduced herself and said her intention was to talk about libraries in general as well as Rusthall library in particular. For instance, did we know how many books it is possible to take out at one time? The somewhat surprising answer is up to 30 and they can be held for up to 3 weeks before return or renewal. Renewal these days can be on a 24 hour phone line or through the internet. Books can be renewed 3 times before needing to be returned.

Regarding Rusthall library, Susan admitted that the stock there was small but pointed out that Rusthall had access to the contents of over 100 other Kent libraries and books can be ordered from those for no cost. Users also have access to the entire online catalogue, including the online reference library, from which they can borrow e-books with which there is no problem about returning them on time - after 3 weeks they just evaporate unless renewed.

For those with difficulty getting to a library there is the Home Library Service staffed by volunteers who will deliver books free to the home and can recommend future choices. All age groups are catered for, as are all disabilities. For the registered blind, for example, there is a wide range of audio books.

Volunteers are always in demand for these services plus specialist areas such as Local History, Computing or Gardening.

The library service also offers various activities for children such as Storytime and Baby Rhyme Time. Details of where and when these take place can be found online HERE

Libraries also organise activities for adults, such as Reading groups, Talk Time and Knit and Natter and Creative Writing groups. On top of which they also arrange Hearing Clinics for the hard of hearing. For details people are again recommended to look online.

Returning to the local, Susan apologised for the recent closure of the Rusthall library necessary for refurbishment but said everyone seemed very pleased with the results. She reminded people that presentations for this year's Short Story Competition are to be made at Rusthall library this coming Thursday 25th May

Susan reviewed other services offered by the main library in Tunbridge Wells: Free Wi-Fi, a B&W printer (10p a copy, children's homework free for the first 10 copies) fax, scanner, DVDs and Audio books plus access to the Zinia online magazine library. She mentioned that the Tunbridge Wells Cultural Hub is going to be based at the Tunbridge Wells Library Museum, and the Adult Education Centre was going to be serving a wider catchment area for the Weald. Also that info re a Hearing Aid Clinic is available At T.W. Library.


How badly have the libraries been affected by budget cuts? – Services have been cut back, certainly, but not hugely. That's why so many products are now online, it's how we are adapting.

How do you register for the Home Library service? - Simply at your local library.

Are volunteers trained? It is usually not necessary but training is provided if needed

Chris Thomas, ambassador from Hospice in the Weald

Chris introduced himself and began his presentation by saying that the HIW had adopted a new strapline for its logo - Celebrating Life, Dignifying Death - which neatly expresses the aims of the organisation; which are to provide compassionate and holistic care not only to patients but also their family, friends and carers. 'Holistic' meaning not only medical care but also addressing the emotional issues involved with terminal illness.

A common assumption, Chris said, is that most hospice patients have cancer, but at HIW the figure is only about 50%. The catchment area for HIW stretches roughly from Sevenoaks to Heathfield in the south; and from Forest Row to Cranbrook. This covers a population of about 350,000 of whom about 1,400 are HIW patients at any time. There are many more who would benefit from hospice care but HIW are limited by resources. They are currently trying to grow their capacity to 1,700

HIW is completely independant from the NHS but does receive some funding from it through the exchange of services. The charity has three main products - the head office at Pembury, the Hospice Day Service and Hospice in the Home.

Pembury has the in-patient facility and every patient has their own room with a view of the lovely gardens or countryside. The medical and nursing team there consists of about 100 people and the running costs are about £50,000 a week. About 400 patients are cared for at Pembury in conditions like those of a country hotel. There is a non-denominational chapel and beautiful gardens cared for by volunteers.

The Hospice Day Service provides for people who can make it to Pembury ubder their own steam, though there is also a team of volunteer drivers to get people there. Therapies for pretty much any condition are provided and 3 - 4.00 people use it a year. Many people receive no direct therapy at all but just come along to chat to others who understand what they are facing.

Hospice in the Home caters for the 80% or so of people who wish to die in their own homes. A medical team from Pembury goes out to help, making thousands of such visits a year.

For the future, HIW is opening its first new cottage hospice for those at the halfway point between home and full hospice care. This will be at Five Ashes on the site of the Church of the Good Shepherd, which will be partly demolished and rebuilt to provide 10 beds plus accommodation for family and carers.

Running HIW costs about £7m a year, of which less than £1m comes from the NHS. About £1.7m comes from legacies and donations. About £800,000 comes from the charity's 22 shops and furniture outlets. £900,000 a year comes from gifts and donations, often from people who in one way or another have experienced the benefits of hospice care.

HIW also runs a major investment scheme which to date has 34 major investors. The Charity Shop in Rusthall opened 20 years ago and now has a pool of 30 volunteers.

Income also comes from hundreds of fundraising events such as the Moonlight Walk and London Marathon, where they had a large presence. They are always trying to raise awareness, as with the coming Herd of the Hospice campaign - a major, free, public art installation and the first of its kind in the area. From July-September 2017, a herd of 25 uniquely decorated horse sculptures will be exhibited across West Kent and East Sussex. Designed and painted by local artists and generously sponsored by local businesses; the horses will be displayed in parks and other public spaces such as Tonbridge Castle to advertise the charity in a creative way. Finally, they will be auctioned to raise funds. Details can be found at

Alex Britcher

Alex announced the informal launch of this year's photographic competition to allow early entries before the more formal launch at the Fete in June. She commented on the success of the first litter picking at Toad Rock in April, despite the rain. The next is planned for October

* Break for Raffle ticket sales and socialising *


Hazel Duncombe

After the break, Treasurer Hazel Duncombe delivered the audited accounts, copies of which were available to all present. These show the RVA to be comfortably in surplus by just over £900. This was about £100 less than the previous year but Hazel pointed out that this was almost exactly what the committee had paid for snacks after the litter-picking - a new expense which seemed a good use of the surplus. It is intended to repeat this at the next litter-pick in October.

The Rusthall Community Cinema had its largest audience yet for its showing of A Street Cat Named Bob. As part of the entertainment a live busker gave a performance. To pay him there was a competition of scarves for cats that was won by Karen Gardner and raised £149.85. Its next showing of Testament of Youth will be the last of the season.

Dennis Penfold

Dennis reminded people that on the 22nd May Anna Astin of the Rusthall Local History Group will be giving an illustrated talk on Women and Flying about the pioneer female aviators to Transport Command in WW2. Then on 26th June there is to be another on A Schoolgirl's War also about WW2 by Mary Smith.


Borough Councillor reports

James McInroy

James said that his recent election to TWBC had been a steep learning curve and he had nothing to report.

Thelma Huggett

Thelma similarly said that she had been so caught up in the local election campaign that she had nothiung of particularly Rusthall interest to report. But she added that she and James were always ready to act on any local issues that arise.

Rusthall Parish Council Reports

Barry Edwards

Barry spoke about the TWBC local development plan, the closing date for applications being 26th June. The call for sites is higher than ever but in Rusthall there are just three under consideration because of it being surrounded by the Commons and other land on which building is prohibited.

Dingley Dell There is an application to build 3 new properties on the site.

Spa Golf Course Targetfollow have applied to convert the course to housing.

Home Farm behind the Red Lion.

After a general discussion of the pros and cons of these proposals, talk moved on to Rusthall's application for the Village of the Year Competition. Finally Barry spoke of the ongoing vandalism problem at the allotments. Wickham Gardens, which had been fairly trouble free, has had a chicken coop ransacked and chickens lost. The Southwood Road allotments regularly suffer from vandalism. It is hoped security can be improved with CCTV.

Two vacancies have arisen for Parish Councillor. Closing date for applicants is 2nd June. For a co-opted position, the period of service will run until the end of the current period, to end in 2019 for this period.

A school sign has been requested for the bottom of Longmedes and is awaiting action.

Jenny Blackburn said there would be another Patient Participation Group meeting at the Rusthall Medical Centre that coming Friday 19th May at 1.30 pm

Dennis Penfold for the Rusthall Local History Group programme said that on 24th July Helen Allinson will be giving an illustrated talk on “Toys and Playthings”, and people are invited to bring their oldest toy. The Heritage Days will be taking place at St. Paul’s Parish Church on 7th, 8th, 9th, & 10th Sept. 2017

The raffle raised £22
Meeting closed at 21.30
The next meeting will be on 17th May 2017

Chair – Alex Britcher 07967 011 467
Website editor Nigel Suckling 01892 544345
Secretary: Sue White

Minutes: Nigel Suckling