Published: Thursday, 3rd February 2022

We are launching a new campaign, Medway’s Heroes in Time, to find hidden heroes in local history.

Medway is incredibly proud of its rich history and heritage with historical landmarks such as Rochester Castle, the finest and tallest Norman castle in the country, and Rochester Cathedral, the second oldest cathedral in the country, as well as our connections with literary genius Charles Dickens, and his many works, and pioneering navigator and merchant-adventurer Will Adams, the first Englishman in Japan and first westerner to become a Samurai.

However, many residents may not know about Sarah Forbes Bonetta, the protégée of Queen Victoria, who lived in Canterbury Street, Gillingham. Sarah was an African orphan who became the protégé of Queen Victoria and was known for her talent for music. Her fascinating life was celebrated at Gillingham Community Hub last year, as part of Black History Month. Other activities to celebrate Sarah’s life included a series of African drumming workshops for children, and musical notebook art.

Sir David Frost, a nationally and internationally known presenter and journalist, is another example of a hidden Medway hero. Sir David was a pupil at Barnsole Primary School, and the former Gillingham Grammar School (now The Howard School in Rainham), but many people are unaware of his link to Medway. Sir David was an award-winning broadcaster and journalistic titan who worked with nationwide news corporations, such as the BBC and ITV, along with working in the USA. Sir David famously interviewed US president Richard Nixon in the wake of his resignation over Watergate, immortalised in the movie Frost/Nixon.

Much of Medway’s history, and influential residents from across our communities, likely remains unknown and we are calling on residents to share their stories about Medway’s hidden historical heroes.

Local heroes can include people from our past with a Medway connection and who deserve to be recognised, for example, they could have played a significant role in local or national society, or their achievements could be more specific to a community or culture.

We are working with schools across Medway to encourage and support learning about Medway’s Heroes in Time.

Extend children's knowledge of our rich history

Cllr Martin Potter, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Education and Schools, said: “Medway’s Heroes in Time is an innovative project which aims to extend children’s understanding and knowledge of our rich history. Celebrating members of the community, who we may not be aware of, or not know about their Medway connection, will help schools teach pupils about our history whilst inspiring them with local role models. I would encourage residents to nominate a person from our past if they think they could be a History Hero and I look forward to finding out more about Medway’s fantastic past. This project proudly supports our Child-Friendly Medway aspirations, putting children and young people at the heart of everything we do.”

To nominate a hidden hero, or a story that celebrates Medway’s proud history, please send an email with as much information as you know to:

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