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Community collection for families who lost everything in Kent fire

The residents of a Kent village are showing the true spirit of Christmas by rallying round to help three families whose homes were destroyed by fire.

At it's height 50 fire fighters battled the blaze in Biddenden on Monday. But already thousands of pounds have been raised and sack-fulls of toys and clothes donated to replace items that were destroyed.

When the homes of three families from Biddenden were gutted by fire they woke up in time and escapes with their lives but clothes, Christmas presents and treasured possessions were destroyed.

Within hours local resident Claire Passmore had invited people to bring whatever they could to the barn where she runs her business - for the adults and seven children aged between 2 and 11 who have had to leave their homes.

Residents Becky and Tom Claykens spoke of their immense gratitude to those who had contributed

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  1. Phil Hornby

The Last Word, December 2018

It's been an extraordinary few days here at Parliament. But then, in these last weeks in Westminster, we've had week after week of extraordinary events.

Theresa May is leading her party into the a vote on her Brexit deal in Tuesday which only the most optimistic of her troops think she can win.

And Nigel Farage, the South East MEP who started the ball rolling on Brexit, parted company with UKIP, the party he'd led and dominated for so long.

And this week's report on railways: passengers from Kent Sussex and Surrey were subjected to the most 'appalling' treatment, with 'dangerous' overcrowding after last May's timetable changes.

To debate all this and more:-

  • John Howell MP, Conservative member for Henley
  • Baroness Smith, Angela Smith for Labour, from Sussex
  • Lord Fox, Chris Fox from Windsor, for the Lib Dems; and
  • Henry Bolton from Kent, now with 'Our Nation' the former UKIP leader

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Lily's letter to Santa touches down in ski resort!

With a little help from her grandad, Lily Harmer addressed her Christmas wish-list to Santa Claus, North Pole, tied it to two helium balloons and launched it from the cliffs at Hastings. The balloons cleared the trees. But instead of heading for the North Pole they flew over France, Belgium and Germany before touching down - 800 miles from Hastings - in an Austrian ski resort. John Ryall takes up the story.

Staff miss Christmas Day to look after the sick

Some of the Royal Surrey's staff who are working on Christmas day. Credit: Royal Surrey County Hospital

While tucking into your Christmas turkey, spare a thought for the doctors, nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants who will be working on Christmas day.

For the staff at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, December 25 will be just a normal day at the 'office' as they take care of the sick, during the festive season.

Staff will be working during the festive season at the hospital. Credit: ITV news

I would like to thank all the selfless staff across the hospital who will be away from their families and working on Christmas Day. Their commitment and hard work is always greatly appreciated.

– Alf Turner, Deputy Chief Executive

Christmas card rush - Behind the scenes at Royal Mail in Reading!

The 15th of December is the busiest day of the year for our posties. Hundreds of thousands of cards, letters and parcels are collected sorted and delivered as our love affair with Christmas cards continues.

At this time of year extra staff have been drafted in by the Royal Mail to cope with the bumper post bags. Our reporter Penny Silvester got up very early this morning to join staff at Reading's sorting office in Berkshire - to give us an insight into the operation there.

The interviewees are: Matthew Taylor, a postman; Clare Brown, a postwoman; and Graeme Tyers, a Royal Mail manager.

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