What a fantastic day! I began by catching up with my mum and dad over a cup of tea (they are being amazing helping out with childcare, and to be honest, two weeks into the campaign, I appreciate a cup of tea with people who know me backwards), then a spot of press release writing before driving to Dover Grammar School for Boys to meet up with the head there.
I was late arriving and I hate being late. A friend of mine who is always late will be chuckling knowing that as I was fighting rush hour traffic, torrential rain and lack of sensible shoes for flooded paths, I was thinking of her! When I did get there (performing a very ungraceful leap over a 6 foot puddle in front of the reception entrance) my Campaign Manager and I sat down to a very interesting discussion with the headmaster about frozen funding, the new build that is about to begin and various different policy scenarios that could emerge with various different governments (thoughts on grammar satellite expansions / how the schooling model here works for coastal communities in particular / how school anecdotes make for the worst form of evidence and whether honour roll student A Champion (1991) lived up to his name – see picture).
After that I sought shelter and a break for baby in Costa at St. James’ (I tried to seek a warm seat for 45 minutes at the RMT offices, but they were closed) before heading to the Dover Outreach Centre on Snargate Street. Here, I met up with the Chair of Trustees and listened to how the new centre was developing, how we can break away from Victorian models of philanthropy, the sort of people the centre works with and the excellent skills development projects and administrative help provided by volunteers there to help other people get into secure housing and back into the world of work.
After that, a quick dash to the Soup Kitchen run out of St. Mary’s Church. Actually, my friend Cllr. Charles Woodgate and I were a little early arriving and the church was still dark, so I’ll confess we went a small half pint refreshment nearby first! Mine’s a Winklepicker. When the soup kitchen did open, it was impressive to see how organised the volunteering structure is here. The volunteers provide the food and so efficient is the organisation of the teams here that they have over 150 people involved in helping ensure homeless or hungry men and women get what they need. Tonight was a very good looking soup, hot dogs kept warm in a slow cooker with soft rolls, crisps, biscuits (the jaffa cakes were the most popular), tea and coffee.
By now the light was gone and baby was beginning to get very tired. My husband and I met up in a car park and swapped the baby like some dodgy deal! That way, I could attend the community meeting in Shepherdswell without having to juggle a very tired one in my arms at the same time.
On the drive to Shepherdswell for a community meeting rallying against a very poorly considered development, my head began to really hurt, right above the eyebrows – a dull throbbing headache. I recognised this one: I was getting hypoglycemic. I hadn’t eaten enough (anything!) since breakfast although I had had tea and coffee. As I took my seat in front of 300 residents of Shepherdswell, I could feel the headache spreading and I began to shake a bit. Could anyone tell? Lovely Lyn from Finglesham Fields who I’d met before was next to me and she got me some water; that really helped, but I still had this real worry that as everyone else’s speeches were going on I was going to pass out. Then it was my turn to speak. As soon as I did, the distraction helped me feel better. Strange that public speaking makes me feel much better – but I guess that’s probably a good qualification for the intended job.
Speaking against the development of 80 homes in a meadow village-centre area was a no brainer. The development here is clearly opportunistic & unrealistic. The village hasn’t been consulted and the timing of the proposals look like they are linked to the district council’s review of the Local Plan. Everyone present was against the development and I offered, whether elected or not to help, should it be useful or wanted.
When I got home around 9.30pm, my lovely wonderful husband had kept me a portion of cottage pie. I gobbled it down and within minutes the headache was gone. I’ve learnt a lesson: always keep a steady supply of snacks in your handbag.
(And sorry Dom: I will be bring you your Wotsits soon)