Paul Holt, Samphire Hoe

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The commitment of members of the Rotary Club of Dover to the local community was shown in two ways at the first meeting chaired by new president Dave Smith when it was announced, firstly, that the club’s recent beer festival had raised around £1,600 for charity and, secondly, at the successful meeting members were reminded that the club, with partners, had helped to pay for the provision of the education shelter on the Samphire Hoe where hundreds of children are taught about nature. This reminder came in the context of the fact that the guest speaker was Paul Holt who reminded Rotarians present at the meeting that this year is the 20th anniversary of the creation of Samphire Hoe where he has worked for 19 of those years. He described how acres of industrial land at the base of Dover’s cliffs were transformed into a stunning location for wild flowers, rare birds and peaceful picnics.
Once, he recalled, the plateau at the base of the cliffs was a coal mine that gave birth to the mining industry in Kent. But the much bigger Samphire Hoe of today was created from dumping nearly seven million cubic metres of Channel Tunnel chalk marl dug from under the Strait to provide another part of England. Today Samphire Hoe, he said, was a haven for 190 species of plants and many rare birds and butterflies. Sheep and cows now graze on the Hoe’s grassland and the Hoe he said, is now visited by thousands of visitors from all over the world.
He recalled that the name ‘Samphire Hoe’ was suggested, in a local paper’s readers’ competition, by the late Mrs Gillian Janaway, the wife of the current secretary of Dover Rotary Club, Philip Janaway, who himself is a former distinguished member of Dover’s teaching fraternity.