Mole Cafe Hosts Damian Collins’ Book Signing

Damian Collins' book signing Mole Cafe, Folkestone


On Sunday 10th July 2016, Step Short’s Chairman, Damian Collins MP, signed copies of his first book at the Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm in Folkestone.

‘Charmed Life: The Phenomenal World of Philip Sassoon’ charts the eventful life and career of the glamorous British politician, socialite and art collector. Sassoon was born in Kent, into the Sassoon and Rothschild dynasties, and used his impressive political and social connections to great effect during the early part of the 20th century.

He was Hythe MP from 1912 until his early death in 1939, and became a second lieutenant in the East Kent Yeomanry during the First World War. Sassoon served as private secretary to Field Marshal Haig between 1915 and 1918 and passed through the original Mole Cafe on 29th October 1915. Take a look at Sassoon’s signature in the Mole Cafe visitor books, available to view and search on our website.

He was renowned as a fantastic, Great Gatsby-style host, holding legendary gatherings at his country houses, Port Lympne near Hythe and Trent Park in North London.

Damian Collins signing books, Mole Cafe Folkestone


Read more about Damian Collins’ biography of Sir Philip Sassoon in Kent Life magazine.

The Somme Remembered

Battle of the Somme Commemoration Service Folkestone 1 July 2016
On July 1 more than 200 people gathered at the Step Short Arch in Folkestone to remember the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme.

The service began at 7.15am with an introduction by Councillor Jan Holben, Shepway District Council Chairman, and a talk on the bloodiest battle in British history by Deputy Lieutenant of Kent, Dennis Bradley.

A whistle was blown poignantly at 7.30am, precisely when British troops were ordered to go over the top 100 years ago. A roll call of local people who died during the battle was read by Mr Bradley. Bugler Bryan Walker then played the Last Post and Folkestone and Hythe MP, Damian Collins read a classic verse from poem For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon:

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Battle of the Somme Commemoration Folkestone Ben Millbery 2016

Two minutes’ silence followed and then Mr Collins spoke again before The Reveille from the bugler. The lament Flowers of the Forest was played on the bagpipes by piper Ben Millbery. Reverend David Adlington, St Mary and St Eanswythe Church vicar, said prayers and finally, wreaths were laid and handwritten wooden crosses with the names of the fallen from the local area were planted in the memorial flower beds.

The Somme centenary was remembered in services across the country and France last Friday. In a moving arts project to mark the anniversary, First World War ‘ghost’ soldiers marched throughout towns and cities, including Folkestone. ‘we’re here because we’re here’ was a national event created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller in partnership with Rufus Norris of the National Theatre, commissioned by 14-18 NOW.

On Saturday 2 July, a new war memorial was unveiled in nearby Aldington after a 60-year campaign by resident David Hughes to honour the village’s fallen from World Wars I and II.

Start to uncover the stories of the soldiers and nurses involved in the Battle of the Somme by searching the Mole Cafe visitor books now.

Project Update!





The Step Short team is working hard on new WW1 projects in 2016, including a tapestry and a statue.

Step Short’s John Bailey is co-ordinating the development of a First World War Folkestone tapestry. The funding search is ongoing and John is currently looking to Arts Council England.

A statue of a WW1 soldier in the town to commemorate all the soldiers of the Great War is under discussion for design and funding.

Look out for the latest news on all Step Short projects on our Facebook and Twitter pages and here on the website.

Canada Day & Somme Commemorations, 1 July 2016

soldier-cover-a4-724x1024Join Step Short in Folkestone on 1 July 2016 to remember the soldiers who lost their lives a century ago. This year, commemorations will mark both Canada Day and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

Shepway District Council has organised a ceremony under the Memorial Arch in Folkestone beginning at 7.30am on Friday 1 July. The event will be launched with the ‘blowing of the whistles’, the signal for soldiers 100 years ago to ‘go over the top’. Ben Millbery is scheduled to play the Flowers of the Forest (Lament for the Fallen), the official lament of the Canadian forces.

The first day of the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. On 1 July 1916, 57,470 British soldiers were injured and 19,240 of those died. The British forces were made up of troops from Britain, Ireland, Newfoundland, South Africa and India. Just three square miles of territory were gained.

On 1 July, Shorncliffe Military Cemetery will also host a Canada Day service to remember the 305 Canadian soldiers who died during the Great War and are buried there. The cemetery is open between 11am and 1pm on the day.

Catch Up On Our Newsletters

Step Up, the Step Short newsletter, is emailed to our members throughout the year. Take a look at past issues here to find out what we’ve been up to since 2014.

July 2014

August 2014

November 2014

January 2015

July 2015

October 2015

December 2015

April 2016

Become a Step Short supporter for just £10 a year to help us raise funds for our ongoing projects, and you’ll be able to search the Mole Cafe visitor books by name and receive the latest newsletters by email.


Folkestone Town Trail Launches May 2016

Folkestone Town Trail Road of Remembrance

Locals and visitors alike can now discover Folkestone’s hidden history by following the newly-created town trail, launched on Friday 13 May 2016 by Folkestone Town Council, Step Short, Go Folkestone and Folkestone & District Local History Society.

Councillor Martin Salmon (the current Mayor of Folkestone), Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe MP and Chairman of Step Short), Step Short’s Vice Chairman Ann Berry and Richard Wallace (Chairman of Go Folkestone) introduced the series of seven history boards at the launch event held at Folkestone Town Hall last week.

FolkestoneTownTrail Ann Berry, Damian Collins

With boards located at significant sites throughout the town telling Folkestone’s story, the trail stretches for more than two miles from the East Cliff down through the Harbour onto the Bayle and along the full length of the Leas.

The Town Trail is the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration between local groups Step Short, Go Folkestone and Folkestone & District Local History Society in partnership with Folkestone Town Council, Shepway District Council and Kent County Council. The initiative was conceived as a celebration of Folkestone’s rich but often unknown history.

Step Short’s Ann Berry said: “At last this amazing town trail has come to fruition after many meetings and much research by the groups involved.”

Step Short also previewed its new Geocaching Trail which launches in July. The digital treasure hunt will incorporate the Folkestone Town Trail, taking around two hours to complete. From the end of July, once all the trail clues have been solved participants can pick up a commemorative coin at Step Short’s Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm. The cafe is open at weekends and bank holidays throughout the summer.

Look out for more details of the Geocaching Trail on the Step Short website soon.

Step Short Volunteer Appeal


Volunteers enrolment poster

Do you want to help raise awareness of the vital role that Folkestone played in World War I? Would you like to help others discover more about the millions of soldiers, sailors and Red Cross nurses who passed through our seaside town between 1914 and 1918? Then becoming a volunteer for local charity Step Short may be perfect for you!

We are looking for willing volunteers to help out at our small visitor centre on Tram Road and/or to serve tea and cakes at the Mole Cafe on the Harbour Arm. Just a few hours a week would make a big difference and help us to raise the funds needed for our ongoing projects.

If you are interested in working as a volunteer with Step Short, please contact us by emailing: [email protected]