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When Liberace called for “the best”: Piano tuner Eddy Spooner reflects on almost 65 years in the business as he prepares to retire

This story appeared in the Medway Messenger in December 2013.

He’s tuned for Liberace and had Jools Holland come calling. Now, after almost 65 years tweaking and restoring pianos Eddy Spooner wants to retire to care for his disabled wife Audrey.

Trouble is, the 86-year-old needs to shift his remaining stock before he can shut up shop, and business is no longer good.

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Gillingham kit man Malcolm Stedman: the Gills’ secret weapon in the battle for promotion from League Two to League One?

This story appeared in the Medway Messenger in August 2012.

HE’S Gills through and through, is a cult hero amongst fans…and he could be the club’s secret weapon in their bid for promotion.

70-year-old kit man Malcolm Stedman has been delivering rousing speeches to the players before matches and his record is impeccable – seven speeches, seven wins.

Read the rest of this entry »

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70th wedding anniversary: Dear diary of 1941, I’ve just met the girl for me

This story appeared in the Medway Messenger, along with pictures of the diary entry and a copy of the couple’s wedding photo, on 01/03/13. It was sold to the Daily Mail and Daily Express.

The couple met at a dance in Strood in October 1941

Jack and Phyllis Potter. Picture: Andy Payton KMG

ON the night of October 4, 1941, a lovestruck Jack Potter got out his diary and grabbed his pencil.

With the butterflies undoubtedly still in his stomach, he wrote: “Very nice evening. Danced with [a] very nice girl. Hope I meet her again.”

Mr Potter, who was based at Brompton Barracks at the time, did get a chance to meet that very nice girl – Phyllis – again and he went on to make her his wife. Read the rest of this entry »

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McGuinness on Monday politics column

From October 2011 to September 2012 I wrote a political column which appeared in the Monday edition of the Medway Messenger.

It was partly a look at the week ahead, but also a look back at the previous weeks’ events. There were also some lighter observations thrown in, such as amusing quotes.

Below is a selection of some of the columns I filed. I stopped writing the column to focus on more human interest stories and also to work at building up material for my NQJ. Read the rest of this entry »

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Exclusive – Boris Johnson: Thames Estuary airport would give Medway ‘hope’

Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson holding a copy of the Medway Messenger. Picture: Alan McGuinness KMG

A Thames Estuary airport would give Medway hope, according to Boris Johnson.

In an exclusive interview with the KM Group, the London Mayor urged people in the Towns to not just listen to the “naysayers”, who say such a project is unnecessary, unaffordable and potentially devastating to the environment.

He said: “It would be the single biggest creator of jobs and growth.

“We’re not resolved on any particular option at the moment, but what I would say to people in the area is don’t just listen to the naysayers.

“Think about the arguments, think about the immense capacity of this scheme to offer jobs, growth, hope and a fantastic amount of excitement to the area.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Jake Johnson inquest: How did our son die? Family’s questions remain after accidental death verdict

This interview appeared on the front page of the Medway Messenger  on 13/07/12.

EXCLUSIVE

THE parents of a popular young man killed in a road crash say they will never know exactly how he died.

Floral tributes at the scene

Floral tributes left at the scene of the accident in Brompton Farm Road, Strood. Picture: Nick Johnson KMG

The comments of Jake Johnson’s family come after a coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death but admitted she could not explain how he had crashed despite his three passengers giving evidence at his inquest. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mark McCammon employment tribunal: Sacked Gillingham player claims racial discrimination in explosive case

Andy Hessenthaler, Paul Scally and Nicky Southall return to the tribunal

From left to right: Former Gillingham manager Andy Hessenthaler, chairman Paul Scally and former coach Nicky Southall. Picture: Chris Davey KMG

In June 2012, former Gillingham striker Mark McCammon took the Gills to an employment tribunal, alleging black players were treated differently at the club. Below is my two-page report which appeared in the Medway Messenger on 29/06/12.

A BITTER row between Gillingham FC and former player Mark McCammon came to a head with an extraordinary confrontation in which the striker accused manager Andy Hessenthaler and first team coach Nicky Southall of being racist. Read the rest of this entry »

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18-year-old qualifies as a pub landlord

Medway Messenger 17/02/12

This story was picked up by BBC South East, who ran an interview with Lewis after the story appeared in the paper.

Picture: Simon Hildrew KMG

Picture: Simon Hildrew KMG

EXCLUSIVE

HE’S barely old enough to have a pint, but Lewis Marriott has qualified as a pub landlord. Read the rest of this entry »

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Heroic last minute rescue at Rochester station after woman falls on railway line

This was the front page story in the Medway Messenger on 09/01/12.

Picture: Peter Still

James Kinnon – Picture: Peter Still KMG

EXCLUSIVE

A QUICK thinking shop assistant saved a woman’s life when she fainted and fell onto the track at Rochester railway station.

James Kinnon, 25, of City Way, Rochester, was with his girlfriend Olivia, 20, and brother Charles, 23, when he saw the woman fall, moments before a train was due. Read the rest of this entry »

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Middle East unrest: the West is paying the price for its hypocrisy

This is an opinion piece I wrote for an online news day on 25/02/11.

Middle East unrest

What scares the West most about the unrest is the lack of control they have

In Washington and London, those in power are watching events across the Middle East with fear and uncertainty.

For the first time people across the region – most of them young – are fighting to force change and reform. David Cameron and Barack Obama have spoken of the need for democracy to prevail and for the will of the people in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to be respected.

But beneath the platitudes there is a fear of what lies ahead. What scares the West is the lack of control they have.

Historically they have been accustomed to having a much more hands on role. The truth is that Britain and the United States are no friends of democracy in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »

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