Park friends group on the lookout for fresh blood

Members of Friends of Lilford Park, from left, Stephen Aspden, David Sykes and Alan Cox, are campaigning for now facilities at the park held at stall with information for shoppers to enquire at Spinning Gate shopping centre, Leigh

Members of Friends of Lilford Park, from left, Stephen Aspden, David Sykes and Alan Cox, are campaigning for now facilities at the park held at stall with information for shoppers to enquire at Spinning Gate shopping centre, Leigh

A community group which has helped transform a popular park is urgently looking for new blood to take it forward.

All five directors with community interest company (CIC) Friends of Lilford Park will step down at the end of the financial year in December.

Julie McKiernan (left) and school pupil Ruth Boamah (pointing at her art work) together with Friends of Lilford Park volunteers at the opening of the new heritage panels in Lilford Park

Julie McKiernan (left) and school pupil Ruth Boamah (pointing at her art work) together with Friends of Lilford Park volunteers at the opening of the new heritage panels in Lilford Park

The friends’ group has overseen numerous improvements at the Leigh green space and organised events including a spectacular centenary celebration, with the team of volunteers desperate to see it continue to thrive.

However, those in charge of the efforts have decided now is the right time to step aside and let a new generation of residents oversee the care of this green jewel.

Chair David Sykes said: “We need more energy from younger people to push things forward. We will still be involved bringing our experience to the table but we need somebody else to run it and we feel this is the right time.

“It’s our volunteers who have achieved things, we have just co-ordinated it. The improvements in the park are evident compared to how it was when we started.

“We’ve had good co-operation from the council, excellent support from the Environment Agency and local businesses getting involved. We hope it will continue to prosper.”

Anyone wanting to help run the friends’ group will need to declare their interest by July when another general meeting will be held, as the CIC will face dissolution if no-one can be found by then.

Mr Sykes says there are ideas and plans in the pipeline for the group to work on, including a large-scale event to mark 100 years since the end of World War One next year and a scheme to turn the bowling hut into a community cafe.

Achievements in recent years including working with the council and Environment Agency to upgrade drainage following the devastating floods in 2015 and a partnership effort with Transport for Greater Manchester to secure the perimeter and keep off-road bikers out.

Recently the group has improved the leisure facilities, restoring the basketball court, putting in a second five-a-side pitch and installing outdoor gym equipment as well as a new roundabout in the children’s play area.

Young people on training courses have been brought into the park as part of their studies and a link with new music CIC Strike A Chord has resulted in a Rock ‘n’ Stroll event showcasing local bands being organised this summer.

For more on the friends’ group, visit www.folp-leigh.co.uk