GRASS ROOTS December 2020




Due to COVID-19 restrictions it’s likely our Christmas celebrations will be very different this year. To help bring some much-needed Christmas sparkle to families during this festive season, the GRASS elves have delivered £50 Comic Relief children’s Christmas gift vouchers to local households across Cliftonville and Margate, so they can purchase presents for their little ones from Smyth’s Toys. We would also like to thank members of the community for their kind donations through our website, as this meant we were able to help many more families this Christmastime. Since mid-July GRASS has run a successful food voucher scheme with funding from the National Lottery. The scheme was due to end in December, so we are delighted to announce that it will continue over the difficult winter months, as we have received additional funding from Thanet District Council as part of the DEFRA Kent County Council fund. We would like to thank Carly and Elle at TDC for their professionalism, and for their commitment to making this happen for the Cliftonville community. GRASS recently held its first online engagement meeting to share our exciting renovation ideas for The Oval Cliftonville. The meeting, which was a great success, was attended by councillors, local musicians, health & wellbeing professionals, and creatives. It was wonderful to hear such enthusiasm for our proposals, which we hope to implement once the community asset transfer has completed by spring 2021. Our next online engagement meeting, which is open to everyone, is due to take place at 7pm on Tuesday 8th December, so please visit to register.GRASS will be launching its community Crowdfunding campaign for The Oval during December, and we really hope you will be able to support us. We need to raise £20,000, which is enough to complete the asset transfer for The Oval, and to upgrade the electrics, repaint the bandstand, and get the kiosk and toilets open for the 2021 summer season. We will be promoting the campaign online as soon as its launched, and we hope you will share it, make a donation, and help us achieve our funding goal! The Christmas Post Box at the Gordon Road Community Garden in Cliftonville will be ready to receive your letters to Santa Claus on Sunday 6th December. If you would like a personal reply from Santa please post your letters before Wednesday 16th December, and let Santa Claus know what you would like for Christmas! Don’t forget to include your name, age, and address, to help the Elf Postal Service. Finally, we would like to thank all our volunteers, TDC, and our local councillors, for all their hard work, co-operation, and vigilance, during the challenging year we have all endured. GRASS sincerely hopes that 2021 will bring a semblance of normality to our community, and we would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy, and healthy, New Year!



This Christmas GRASS is delighted to receive a donation of 100 book parcels from The Reading Agency’s partnership with Costa Coffee, to help Children and families celebrate the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod. On Christmas Eve each year Icelandic families receive brand-new books and cosy up with a mug of hot cocoa and spend the evening reading. This tradition is known as Jolabokaflod, which translates roughly to “Christmas book flood” in English. Jolabokaflod started during World War II, when paper was one of the few things not rationed in Iceland. Because of this, Icelanders gave books as gifts while other commodities were in short supply, turning them into a country of bookaholics! Each book parcel will contain – 1 x adult book, 1 x children’s book, 1 x luxury instant coffee bags, 1 x ready to drink coffee can, and 1 x bag of gold chocolate coins, plus an activity sheet for children. To register for this FREE Christmas Eve treat please visit 


A property located at Gordon Road in Cliftonville West has received a Blue Plaque from the Margate Civic Society in honour of Rev. David Railton, who originated the concept of the ‘Tomb of the Unknown Warrior’, which is located at Westminster Abbey, and is now a central part of our national Remembrance Day commemorations. 


Swirling sea mists and ghoulish goings-on – nothing was quite as it seemed this Halloween in Cliftonville as the ghosts of GRASS returned once more to the land of the living. We were thrilled to receive some wonderfully spooky entries to our colouring competition and the pumpkin carving competition, as you can see from the winner’s photos. A huge thank you to everyone who took part. To see all the entries check out our social media @GRASSct9 or visit 


By Morag Butler, owner of Rosslyn Court 

Despite the lockdown, Rosslyn Court has been keeping the music going by live-streaming YouTube performances from many fantastic musicians including Falle Nioke, CoCu, Chris Cleverley and King Size Slim. In the gap between the first and the second lockdown we even had a small audience in attendance at the streams with socially distanced tables, drink, cake, a raffle, a stage screen, an air extractor, and a one-way system in and out of the building. We collect for the musicians from our online live-streams and have received many generous donations, which our artists have really appreciated. We have many more exciting online events coming up over the next month (with no live audience sadly), and all of these are advertised on our website and on social media. Our next gigs include Mazaika and Mel Zebra and the Buffaloes. For more info visit or Insta @rosslyncourtmargate or Twitter @rosslyncourt



Arts Education Exchange is a local youth charity working with young people aged 11 to 25 based on Northdown road. Our mission is to unlock personal potential, facilitate social change and to support young people and communities to thrive through creativity. We moved to our current space in 2019, having previously been based in the Viking Gallery just off Northdown road. This past year has been interesting for a number of reasons. At the end of 2019 we were very fortunate to be awarded funding for two year by both the National Lottery Community fund and Colyer Fergusson Charity Trust. It was a huge boost for the team as we had recently converted from a CIC to a charity and having such large and renowned funders work with us validated the work we had been doing and our mission statement. The funding enabled our programme co­ordinator to put together a variety of sessions for young people in music and visual arts based on the disciplines they had expressed an interest in. It also ensured we were able to provide paid opportunities for local people as tutors, workshop coordinators and also as contributors to our Instagram TV show Lockdown TV. Over this year we have provided paid opportunities for 22 local people. Lockdown posed huge challenges for us as we had to withdraw our face-to-face sessions. The team worked with our tutors and young people to get online fairly quickly however we were then faced with the realisation that not all of our young people have access to the technology needed to attend a session. Local people were generous in donating devices and we were also able to access emergency funding through the Colyer Fergusson hardship grant which enabled us to get buy devices for young people that not only gave them access to our programme, it also meant they could continue with their studies and participate in other online activities. In recognition of the isolation people were feeling during lockdown we launched the Send a Sound project asking people to send in music and words in response to their situation. Audio was sent to local artist and producer Robbie Redway (@Ronda Mo) and the final pieces were released as an album which can be heard at by searching for: Send A Sound Radio Show Looking forward to what we have coming up ­ we’re in the process of hiring a young leader who will work with young people assisting tutors with sessions and also running their own creative project in conjunction with the local community. We are also recruiting participants for our AEE TV programme, a youth led platform producing online video content (sign up online) and we’re hoping to work closely with local schools to sign post our services to more young people in the area. If you know a young person who would like to get involved or want to hear more about the work we do have a look at our website or follow us at Instagram @artsedex



By Joanne Goodson from Walpole Bay Swimmers 

I never intended to swim in winter, to swim when it is cold and windy and requires every ounce of mental strength just to get in. But that is what I have come to love: the crisp clarity that only cold water can give. The best moment is when you have entered the pool, vigorously swam in an attempt to control the negative reaction and your body relaxes. Your mind accepts that you have not indeed died, and your body absorbs the exhilaration. Immersed in the natural landscape, it is a time to focus purely on the here and now. Whether it is a solo experience or one with friends, the benefits are the same. With the short days and grey charcoal skies of winter, swims take on a moody tone – like playing a part in a Scandinavian crime show. But that just adds to the experience. Yes, it is easier to get in when the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. However, a bit of tension and melodrama bring a different dimension to winter dips. As does changing on the pool wall against the ticking clock of a surprisingly powerful incoming tide. Or flapping clothes that need positioning just right to catch the wind to enable you to get dressed. And it is always the left-hand side of the pool I favour to enter from, these rituals seem to matter and cannot be changed. Winter swimming has increased in popularity; more people are trying it out and finding that it is not so very different or difficult. Of course, it is not for everyone and that is fine and as it should be. However, if you did want to give it a whirl, there is no better place than the four-acre marvel that is Walpole Bay Tidal Pool. For info visit or on social media @WalpoleBaySwim For safety advice on cold water swimming visit


GRASS member Helen Pitman writes about cold weather visitors to the Cliftonville coastline. 

The tourists may largely have left our shores as the weather cools down and the days shorten but we are very lucky to have a different kind of visitor throughout winter. A number of birds visit us during the winter months to get away from the freezing temperatures of their homelands to the north. For them Cliftonville is a winter holiday destination! Ringed plovers, oyster-catchers and little terns can all be found nesting along our coast and ruddy turnstones, found in internationally important numbers, return to their favourite Cliftonville bay from Canada and the tundra every year. These small birds with their distinct orange legs are often darting around Margate Harbour and along the Cliftonville rockpools in search of food when the tide is out. However, they are not doing as well as they could be and need our help to stay safe. Flying to and from the Arctic takes a lot of energy and if turnstones are disturbed when feeding and resting by people or dogs they may not put on enough fat or be rested enough to make the long journey home. Be cautious when you see our Arctic visitors and hopefully, they’ll be back for years to come. If you’re interested in helping out with turnstone surveys or sightings contact the Thanet Coast Project at Thank you to Ray Newsam for the fantastic photo. 


The GRASS community group is looking for new members to join a steering group and help organise one of the following community events in 2021: Cliftonville in Bloom, Cliftonville Outdoor Cinema, Cliftonville Games, Spooktonville, or the GRASS Children’s Christmas Party. If you have a few hours spare each month and you would like to join our vibrant and fun events organising team, we would love to hear from you at 


DECEMBER 5TH, 2020 – Gordon Road community garden tidy 

DECEMBER 6TH, 2020 – 20TH Santa Post Box is at Gordon Road, Cliftonville 

APRIL 12TH, 2021 – GRASS Cliftonville Annual General Meeting 

APRIL 25TH, 2021 – Cliftonville in Bloom Launch Day

Support GRASS 

Donations are always welcome, please head to our web page to find out more and to donate securely online. 

Thanet Lotto 

Support us through the council-run community lotto. It’s just £1 to enter and you could be in with a chance of winning the £25k jackpot. Apply at and search GRASS 


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The GRASS Roots newsletter is sponsored by National Lottery Community Fund and Tesco Bags of Help