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Thousands of people visit Rochester's Dickens Festival

A parade through the town kicked off the festival Credit: ITV news

Thousands of people are expected to visit Rochester's Dickens Festival, which started today. The event kicked off with the annual parade. This year's theme was Oliver Twist.

Dicken's "Fagin" joins the crowd Credit: ITV news

Dickens enthusiasts, strolling players, re-enactors, Dickensian 'characters', join the public in a Festival to commemorate and celebrate the life of Charles Dickens. The event also includes readings, competitions, re-enactments and street entertainment

Charles Dickens spent much of his childhood in Medway while his father worked at the Dockyards. Many of his novels and characters have been based on the places he visited and people he met whilst living in the area. Medway is proud of its history with this national legend, who created some of the world's most memorable fictional characters and remains generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period.

Rochester pays homage to its famous author

He's Rochester's most famous resident, and this weekend author Charles Dickens is being remembered along with his famous characters and novels. The Dickens Festival attracts thousands of people each year. Andrea Thomas spoke to Medway Council's events manager Carl Madjitey and Steve Martin from the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship. Oh, and a rather risque group of enthusiasts!

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  1. David Johns (@davidjohns_itv)

East Kent hospitals boss says patients shouldn't worry

The new health chief for east Kent - where three major hospitals are in special measures - has spoken for the first time about the challenges he faces.

Troubleshooter Chris Bown - who's being paid just under £300,000 for a year's work - says patients should not be worried because standards of healthcare are good. But, he says, there are serious internal issues to be tackled - including low morale and a culture of managerial bullying.

And then - there's the controversial plan to have just one A&E unit for a population of 700 thousand.

David Johns interviewed him for this special report. This is the full-length interview (approx 18 mins)

And here's the shorter, "as broadcast" version:

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