The planned new West Kent Community Radio is today celebrating after being awarded almost £9,000 in National Lottery funding to buy the FM radio transmitters it needs to be able to launch its service later this year.
West Kent Community Radio evolved from Hospital Radio Tunbridge Wells, an established hospital radio service which has been broadcasting radio programmes to local hospitals for the past 60 years.
The charity, which is staffed by more than 55 volunteers ranging in age from 22 to 77, was awarded an FM licence by OFCOM in March 2020 to provide a community radio service for Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Southborough and surrounding areas.
At present, West Kent Radio provides a 24/7 service which can be heard in our local hospitals, online and via Smart speaker and has continued to provide programmes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with many presenters operating from their homes to keep the station on air.
The new funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, which distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest community funder in the UK, will enable the service to be expanded and broadcast on FM across West Kent.
Broadcasting as West Kent Radio, the station’s output will include a variety of music from across the decades, regular local news bulletins and information on local sporting and social events.
It will host discussion programmes on topics of local interest to allow local people to engage with members of the County Council, town councils and residents and will provide a platform for local charities and support organisations to promote their services and enable local musicians to showcase their talents in live shows.
The charitable aims of West Kent Community Radio include the prevention or relief of sickness and the promotion of good personal mental and physical health, and broadcasting health education messages and advice in its programmes and hosting discussion programmes with health experts will help it to achieve these aims.
The station will continue to broadcast request programmes for patients in local hospitals as it has done for the past 60 years and aims to expand the requests service into care homes and other healthcare locations.
Chris Manser, Trustee of West Kent Community Radio said: “We’re delighted that The National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way. Now, thanks to National Lottery players we will be able to press on with our plans to launch our service on FM and by providing music, news, entertainment, sport and good advice we hope to enrich the lives of our listeners in West Kent.”