Friends group which spent £21,480 windfall in transforming St Annes' Hope Street Park calls it a day

A Friends group which changed the face of a St Annes park has decided to call it a day after 12 years.

Thursday, 14th October 2021, 3:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th October 2021, 4:08 pm

The Friends of Hope Street Park are winding up their activities as they say there haven’t been any new, younger people stepping up to carry on the work.

Since being formed in 2009 on the initiative of partners Ian Roberts and Pam Curtis, who live opposite the park on Hope Street, the Friends have raised enough funds to fully kit it out with new play equipment as well as introducing an ultra-modern pavilion building.

The funding of the pavilion was famously given a dramatic kick-start when a basket full of more than £21,000 in cash was left on Ian and Pam’s doorstep in 2012.

The playground at Hope Street Park, St Annes

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“But we found there were no swings, just a rusty A-frame which had been declared unsafe and there were no plans to replace the swings as there was no money.

“Within weeks we were invited to a meeting with neighbours and lady bowlers at the home of local councillor, the late Keith Hyde,who explained that although the council had no funds for play areas, and couldn’t apply for charitable grants, a Friends groups could. That was the start of The Friends.

“We were a small group who all paid an active role, and with the help of Keith, Fylde Council and Lancashire County Council, we consulted with local residents and schools about what should happen to the park. The main consultation was done as a Fun Day initially intended as a one-off but so successful that at one stage we were hosting three a year.

Pam Curtis and Ian Roberts

“That gave us the vision for the park and a masterplan was made. This was then costed at over £500,000 – and used to apply to various groups, including the Lottery, for funds.

“By 2012 we had raised enough money to put in the children’s play area, climbing frames, repair paths, put more bins in and irrigate the bowling green. But none of the organisations we applied to would fund the pavilion, which was practically derelict.

“One day, we came home to find a basket and carrier bag full of money, and as the Express reported at the time, we had to leave it with the police for three months to check out where it might have come from.

“The money was returned to us and Ian and I had already decided that it must have been meant as a donation for the park.

The pavilion at Hope Street Park, the money for which was kick-started by the £21,480 donation

“The £21,480 formed the initial funds we needed for the pavilion, meaning we could successfully apply for funds and renovate it, with heating, a fully fitted kitchen, disabled toilets, security and fire system, carpets and furniture. The bowlers loved it and a youth club started up that ran twice a week.”

Ian added: “The Friends couldn’t have achieved all we did without the help of the local and county councils, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, the Lottery and Green Spaces and local residents who supported us.

“Our final actions are to have recently handed £3,000 to AFC Fylde, funding we obtained from Lancashire Partnership Against Crime for them to run a youth club in the Pavilion starting soon, and our remaining funds will be spent on putting more benches in the park.

“Our committee has pulled together and been a real team.

“Each member has made a difference and contributed to the improvements to this community asset we have achieved but we have to say Pam’s contribution has been particularly outstanding.”

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