Thursday, 29 September 2016

Crosby and Waterloo Blooming marvellousley

It was a real pleasure to be at the Waterloo and Crosby in Bloom awards night at St Luke's last night. Andrew Tonkiss was in the chair and ably assisted by the team especially Treasurer Caroline. Everyone missed the presence of Derrick Hymus who does so much for the group.

I had the task of handing out the cups and certificates. If my notes are correct the supreme champion, the equivalent of the best in show was Paul Weston (correctly quickly if I'm wrong)

There were lots of categories including front gardens, containers, window boxes, open spaces, commercial, pubs etc. It really was so good to see so many people involved.


Freedom of the City of Liverpool for the 96 victims of Hillsborough

96 people went to a football match and did not return . They were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough in April 1989 .
The 96 were posthumously awarded the the Freedom of the City of Liverpool and as Sefton's mayor I attended the ceremony at St George's Hall. The Freedom is the highest honour that the City can give.

More residents of Sefton died in this tragedy than from any other part of Merseyside.

I met several of the local families who lost loved ones including Denise Hough whose brother Gordon was one of the victims along with Gordon's niece Annabel

As each family collected the insignia of the Freedom there was sustained applause. This increased in volume as Marina Dalglish and Kenny Dalglish but the greatest and most sustained applause was kept for Professor Phil Scraton . It was clear that the families recognised that his contribution was central to the campaign to achieve justice for the 96.
Bishop James Jones was also awarded the Freedom for his work alongside Prof Scraton on the panel that was finally established to uncover the truth.
For many the emotional high point of the evening was singing of 'You'll never walk alone' by Danielle Louise Thomas from Waterloo
Through out the evening Kenny Dalglish and Prof Scraton made themselves freely available for photographs with the families.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

My column in Midweek Visiter featuring Elderberries, badmintonathon, Four Season and The Game

Since I last wrote this column I have visited the Elderberries who are surely the borough’s friendliest gardening club. There was a great turnout for their Tomato and Chilli Festival at St John’s church hall where, under the watchful eye of their chair Derek Lewis Lavender, I was down to judge the produce. The Elderberries had their own categories for judging including 'ugliest tomato' and I added another one; cutest tomato. I was ably assisted by Mary seen in the picture who presented me with a bouquet. This is a thriving and happy club that meets one a month. So if you live in Southport and like more information please get in touch via the blog or write to me at the Town Hall, Lord St., Southport and I will pass on your details to Derek.

In another church hall in Birkdale the Woodvale Badminton Club met to stage a 24 hour marathon game to raise funds for local charities. I was mightily impressed by the way the event had been organised. Local businesses had been generous in their sponsorship and there was all manner of fundraising initiatives. I stayed for a good while and what stood out was the high standard of the games. The Woodvale Club is very successful and attracts a wide range of members including a thriving youth section.

I was delighted to visit the Four Season's centre. The scheme provides opportunities for people with learning difficulties to gain training and experience of work leading to greater independence. The project offers opportunities in horticulture, catering, floristry, hairdressing and in a new retail enterprise that I had been invited to open

On Friday night I presented certificates to people who volunteer with the 800 group of charities at an event hosted by Bradbury Fields the charity which works alongside people who are blind and partially sighted. I attended the first play in the new season at the Little Theatre.

 The Game is by one of the Lancashire playwrights, Harold Brighouse, whose other works include Hobson’s Choice. It was a great production set around a northern football club and is as fresh and relevant today as it was when it was written.

Next week I will write about the ceremony at St George’s Hall where the families of the 96 football fans who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough will receive the Freedom of the City.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

'Beautiful and uplifting' Civic Service at Holy Trinity Southport

Holy Trinity church in Southport certainly has a 'wow' factor especially when , as on Sunday, the impressive architecture is combined with excellent music, a well ordered service and a thought provoking sermon. Rod Garner and his team gave substance to the psalmist plea to 'worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness'.

The church was packed and we ran out of service sheets. It was good to see so many people attend from the groups that I have visited since I became Mayor in May. In addition to civic colleagues (including the High Sheriff) I was particularly delighted to see so many people from Birkdale who have supported me over many years.

We entered the church as the choir sang Noel Rawsthorne's Jubilate Deo and that set the high standard that was maintained throughout the service-which was no surprise to anyone who attends Holy Trinity. During the communion, celebrated by Rev Jane Morgan, the choir sang Purcell's, Lord thou knowest the secrets of our hearts and Cesar Franck's O Praise ye the Lord

The congregation played their full part especially in the hymn sing especially William Blake's Jerusalem, which was the focus of the sermon, with its urgent questioning of whether a new Jerusalem would be build in England'd green and pleasant. lands.
Click on to enlarge

I have had some really excellent feedback from those who attending describing the services as 'beautiful, uplifting and inspiring'. My sincere thanks to everyone at Trinity for all their hard work and preparation which ensured the Civic Service was a memorable occasion.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Game: A Northern comedy about love, honour and football performed at Southport's Little Theatre.

I had a grand night at the theatre. A Lancashire play was performed in Southport. Although The Game was written over 100 years ago its themes are still ones that exercise us today.

This is a play about football set in a northern town. The cast includes a corrupt club owner, a would-be WAG a pompous solicitor from London and a footballer who lives a terraced house with no hot water (that final bit doesn't have any relevance today).

I was the guest of the SDC and their chair Jan Hale along with many of the Little Theatre's partners. Southport is fortunate to have such an excellent facility as The Little Theatre.

Michelle Martin directed the play and produced a funny, entertaining and thought provoking evening.

I had the pleasure of meeting the cast and crew on stage after the curtain came down which allowed me to congratulate them in person.

I have always liked the plays produced by the Lancashire playwrights and I am delighted that there appears to be a revival of them. Everyone has heard of Hobson's Choice and the David Lean film with John Mills (If you haven't then you should certainly track it down).  That play is on in the West End at present with Martin Shaw -TV's Judge Deed and George Gently- as Hobson. Some while ago I saw a production of Zak another play by Brighouse at The Everyman. Another of the group, Stanley Houghton, wrote Hindle's Wake- a TV version directed by Lawrence Olivier is still available on DVD and is one of the great feminist plays of the era.   This play was revived by the excellent professional company Northern Broadsides . Their founder/director Barrie Rutter couldn't find a copy of the script when he wanted to put it on to co-inside with World Cup and eventually tracked down a copy to a university library in Canada. We should all be grateful to him because this is a real gem of a Lancashire play.

There are still a couple of performances left and I would urge you to go. You will have a thoroughly enjoyable evening and come away not only smiling but also with some important things to think about..

As I left the stage one of the cast Stan Hagan reminded me to put out my grey wheelie bin. Now I call that right neighbourly

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Four Season Birkdale a project for people with learning difficulties to help them prepare fro getting a job

The Four Seasons Garden Centre on Liverpool Rd in Birkdale is well established.  Recently it has become the focus of a scheme which provides training and work opportunities for people with learning difficulties. It was a great pleasure to meet the trainees, volunteers and staff at the project. They have developed some exciting opportunities in the garden centre and cafĂ©. This week they opened a new enterprise – a shop -on the same site to help raise money for their work.

I was shown around by the trainees and saw the horticulture work. That day they were potting up bulbs for the Christmas market. The young women who has worked so hard to get the new shop under way introduced the new enterprise and got me to cut the ribbon to declare it open

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Four Seasons and the Learning Rooms in Birkdale- an inspiring project

I was delighted to visit the Four Season's centre in Birkdale this week where I was met by one of the founders Ruth Wareing. The scheme provides opportunities for people with learning difficulties to gain training and experience of work leading to greater independence. The project offers opportunities in horticulture, catering, floristry, hairdressing and in a new retail enterprise that I had been invited to open

I was very impressed by the set up and the opportunities that the scheme provided for people to gain experience and qualifications. It is particularly good to see the trainees gaining nationally recognised qualifications like NVQ.

It is a warm and friendly environment that provides a safe setting for the trainees to continue their journey towards greater independence and fulfilment.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Elderberries tomato and chilli festival a truly uplifting combination

Now this really was a joy. The Elderberries are a  gardening club for pensioners that meet in St John's church hall in Birkdale and they are a most friendly and welcoming group. Today they had their Tomato and Chilli festival under the watchful eye of their chair Derek Lewis Lavender. I was down to judge the produce. 

and the winner of the coveted trophy
The truth of the matter was that there was a goodly display of home grown tomatoes and the elderberries had been very enterprising choosing some unusual varieties alongside the expected ones. I was particularly impressed by the full sized plum tomatoes, but there were no chillies. Speaking to the members it was clear that one of the issues that prevented more chilli growing was the problem of the glut. What on earth do you do when all your chillies ripen at the same time. In truth a pensioner living alone can only consume so many chillies in a single sitting. I suggested that the answer was to freeze them . I grow a variety called Apache. It is a very neat compact plant a 'medium chilli heat'. I find the peppers freeze whole very satisfactorily. The F1 seeds are available from Sutton Seeds

The Elderberries had their own categories for judging including 'ugliest tomato' and added another one; cutest tomato. I was ably assisted by Mary seen in the picture presenting me with a  bouquet.

This is a thriving and happy club that meets one a month. So if you live in Birkdale and like more information please get in touch and I will pass on your details to Derek.

On twitter this afternoon someone remarked what an interesting combination of flavours was conjured up by the report of my visit. I suggest that the correct way to consume the elderberries is to ferment them first. They are just ripening and about to give of their best.

Friday night and Saturday morning at the 24 hr Badmintonathon in Birkdale

On Friday I night launched a Badmintonathon in Birkdale organised by the Woodvale badminton Club to raise funds for local charities. What is a Badmintonathon? It seems to have been dreamt up by the Woodvale club and this is their fourth. It is a 24 hour continuous game with over 100 players taking part.

I was mightily impressed by the way the event had been organised. Local businesses had been generous in their sponsorship, there was an amazing raffle and a number of sealed auctions for super prizes.
I stayed for a good while and what stood out was the high standard of the games. The Woodvale Club is very successful and attracts a wide range of members including a thriving youth section. I popped back in early on Saturday morning and they were still going strong. Earlier I had met a representative of Lancashire Badminton who was full of praise for the way the club was run and the high standard of their coaching.

The event was held at the Birkdale URC on Grosvenor Rd, the last time I had been there at the opening of the 'knitted bible' on that occasion the tables were groaning under the weight of cake this time it was raffle prizes that weighed them down. I understand that over £3000 was raised for Woodvale BC's chosen charities.

Mollie (on Mayoress duty) meets up with old school friends

06.00am and still going strong
up for the first game with the special challenge tee shirt

A welcome at Royal Birkdale for a royal visiter

Local people will have noticed a lot of police activity around 'the hill' next to Greenbank school. Dog walkers -hopefully fully equipped with their poop and scoop bags- were re-routed to allow a VIP guest to land in a helicopter. The Deputy Lord Lieutenant from Southport Michael Braham  and I were waiting to welcome Prince Andrew to Birkdale where he was hosting the Duke of York's Young Champions Trophy.

This international competition is in its 16th year. The tournament sees 55 of the world's most talented young male and female golfers take part in a 54 hole stroke play tournament. Former champions include Rory McIlroy. 

It was interesting to see how wide the net was cast to recruit players.: New Zealand, Norway, Puerto Rico, Russia Sweden, Switzerland. Thailand, South Africa, Slovakia, Slovenia, Turkey, Trinidad to mention just a few. I also learned about the challenge of getting visa correct, a complication had led to one contestant missing the tournament. I wonder if that is something were are all going have to get clued-up on?

Michael and I also learned from the Prince's staff (or DOY as the call him), about the work of the DOY's charitable trust. I was particularly interested to find out how they got their jobs. It turned out they were publically advertised. We met a young graduate who had gone there as an intern and six years on is still there having been offered a job after finishing her internship.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Wayfarers Arcade National Heritage Day Exhibition

One of the sights of Southport, the Wayfarers Arcade is the jewel in the crown of Lord Street.

In my role as Mayor I speak a lot to visitors to the town and this is the place many of them talk about, this is the picture they send home on their social media or by postcard.

Last night as part of National Heritage Day the Arcade launched an exhibition that charted its history since 1898 when it was opened. Back then it was named the Leyland Arcade ( after the Liberal MP) and was the idea of  the entrepreneur John Humphrey Plummer.

The Arcade management, led by Yvonne Burns, has put on an excellent exhibition and for part of it they have collaborated with The Atkinson. I had the pleasure of meeting the women who looks after the collection- part of which is on show. The dress we are standing in front of was made at Boothroyds of Southport . The impossibly thin waste required the exhibits to be modelled on child sized manikins. It helps explain why there was such a vigorous campaign for 'rational dress' in the Victorian era, a precursor of our present day concerns about the impact on mental health of the 'body images' promoted by many in the fashion industry

For most people in Southport the Arcade is associated with the Pedlar family who were involved with the building for several generation. The Arcade recently left the ownership of the Pedlar family and was transfer to the company that also owns Beales- the department store on Lord Street that also opens into the Arcade.

It was good to see so many of the Pedlar family at the launch and the former MD Nicola Lynch nee Pedlar spoke about the families involvement over decades with the Arcade. The event also gave me the opportunity to meet with the new owners Panther Securities PLC a successful property
investment company. It was good to see John Humphrey Perloff attend the launch and to hear him speak about his ambition for the Arcade (note-if I have this right- he has the same fore names as the original owner) . It was particularly pleasing to hear him outline the companies approach to retail management that has included lowering the rents and striving to maintain full occupancy. Judging from their contribution last night I think Southport has good reason to hope that they will be worthy custodians of this important part of the town. (I shall not digress into thoughts about Mr Philip Green)

The evening concluded with Arthur Pedlar introducing us to Verco the clown, but that will be the subject of another posting.

Mercant Navy Day Liverpool

On Sunday I attended the Merchant Navy Day Service at Liverpool Parish Church- the seafarers' church.
Before the service there was music from the Port Sunlight Seadogs whose shanty singing was a feature of the celebration of the Liverpool Pilots being awarded the Freedom of the City.

After the Church Service we processed to the Pier Head to for the laying of wreaths on the Merchant Navy Memorial in memory of the 36,000 seafarers who lost their lives in conflicts.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Unveiling Bootle War Memorial

photo by K Hodgson
On an extremely wet Saturday morning a large crowd came and stayed for over an hour for the rededicating of the restored Bootle War Memorial.

The work had been founded by a variety of sources including a large donation from the War Memorial Trust . This is one of the biggest grants made by the Trust.

Despite the rain everyone listened attentively as the memorial was dedicated. The ceremony was a recreation of the one carried out in 1922 with the laying of wreaths
I concluded the event by repeating the pledge made back then by the then Mayor that the council would look after the memorial. The vicar of Christchurch Bootle blessed the memorial and we sang familiar hymns including all seven verses of Abide with Me. (Who knew Abide with Me had seven verses? Well one older member of the gathering impressively sang all the verses from memory!). We were to accompanied by the Formby Band  
phot by K Hodgson

The order of service for the rededication describes the monument thus:

The design of the memorial is based on a suggestion from the War Memorial Committee that all three services should form an important part of the design and that the names of the fallen heroes should be recorded. The overall form and configuration of the memorial was proposed by Hubert Ernest Bulmer, ARCA (1874-1963), who was the County Borough of Bootle's Art Director and had previously been head of the Bootle School of Art (which was a predecessor to the Hugh Baird College of today).
a representative of the War Memorial Trust

The memorial is constructed from Forest of Dean sandstone and comprises a twelve-sided base on two circular steps, which have bronze panels with the names of those remembered inscribed between pilasters. Above this base is a triangular, concave-sided obelisk that supports a bronze depiction of a mother and child. Flanking the obelisk on three sides are figures of an infantry soldier, a sailor and an airman. The total height of the memorial is 20 feet.

The memorial sits within a wide paved landing and is surrounded by an outer ring comprising a dwarf wall with coping stones beyond which the landscaped setting includes a perimeter privet hedge and lawns.

There are 12 bronze plaques upon which are the names of 1007 Bootle men killed in the First World War. The bronze sculpture depicts a soldier, sailor and an airman, three laurel wreaths and a stature of a mother holding a baby.
The bronze sculptures are by Joseph Hermon Cawthra, RBS (1886-1971) and were cast by Mario Manenti (1885-1954), a bronze founder and an artist who ran a foundry at 416 Fulham Road, London between 1921 and 1928.

The inclusion of an airman is very unusual for a First World War memorial as air warfare was still very new and only a few war memorials of this age include an airman. He stands on the east side of the memorial and is looking up to the sky. The sailor and soldier figures are shown guarding a mother and child figure which symbolises new life and hope.

The sculptor Cawthra's later career was largely based on his reputation following Bootle War Memorial. Before they were installed on the memorial, his bronze figures were exhibited at the 1922 Royal Academy and received admiring comments with positive reviews recorded in contemporary accounts at the time. Critics praised the realism of the Tine colossal bronzes' with one critic praising the 'virility' of the airman figure and writing 'it is indeed a tonic to see these rugged warriors in place of the usual classical nymphs'. Later, Cawthra described the airman figure as one of his best works.
Construction work began in May 1922 and the completed memorial was unveiled on the 15th October of that year. The contractor was Harry Clegg from Chester.

The Bootle Times printed a very detailed account of the official unveiling ceremony which took place where we are now stood on 15th October 1922 and according to the article, 'this was attended by tens of thousands of onlookers and in glorious sunshine.

In 1948 permission was granted by the Council for the addition to the memorial of the names of servicemen killed in the Second World War. This consisted of alterations to the entrance steps to incorporate two additional bronze plaques and the addition of further names to the original stone boundary plinth. They also added a stone tablet commemorating the Liverpool Escort Force which protected the vast convoys of merchant ships which brought food and materials to this country via the docks, upon which so many people in Bootle depended.

Since the Second World War further names from subsequent conflicts, have been added, with the most recent being added earlier this year.

This Memorial is still very much a monument to the people who gave their lives, including those from our own generation and they will always be remembered.