Chorley - heritage, hedgehogs and hope for the future

PUBLISHED: 00:00 15 April 2020

Astley Hall

Astley Hall

Archant

Until 1988, Chorley’s official motto was ‘Beware’ - but that’s all changed now and there is much to look forward to.

Hasina Khan is used to breaking boundaries. She was the first Asian woman to serve as a councillor in Lancashire and today she is the first female Asian Mayor of Chorley.

‘I’ve lived in Chorley since the mid-60s and I’ve seen the town go through highs and lows. Right now we’re really entering a great new phase. We’ve got the new cinema complex, the business hub, the opening of the Market Walk extension and big names like Marks and Spencer making a commitment to our High Street,’ says Hasina, who adds the only irksome thing about being Mayor is getting used to carrying the weight of the Mayoral chain, while maintaining her elegant posture. She’s solved the problem of looking polished at all times by having an emergency make-up kit in the office.

‘I don’t think they were expecting women to wear the chain when it was made in the 19th century. But it is the only mayoral chain to carry two portraits of Queen Victoria so maybe they had an inkling of things to come,’ says Hasina, who has already been awarded The High Sheriff Award for her work in community cohesion.

‘We all need support - I have the support of my husband Zafar and the rest of my family, including my daughter Zara who is also a councillor. But you know, community is larger than one’s own family - it means pulling together as a town, letting the rest of the country know what a great place Chorley is. We’re proud of our heritage but we’re not stuck in the past either,’ says Hasina who has made inclusion a cornerstone of her time as mayor. Her Mayoral Bollywood Ball was a great example and, groundbreakingly, had no top table.

The Mayor of Chorley, Cllr Hasina KhanThe Mayor of Chorley, Cllr Hasina Khan

‘That’s because I like to be in the middle, finding out about all the wonderful things that are going on - you don’t hear too much tucked away on a top table.’

Caring for prickly patients

Tooty the hedgehogTooty the hedgehog

The Chorley Hedgehog Hospital is based in Janette Jones’s home and there’s barely a space that isn’t filled with some aspect of hedgehog paraphernalia and, of course, hedgehogs. There’s even a special mother and baby unit in the shed and a weigh-in section where weights of all are carefully monitored.

‘We are absolutely full but I could fill it twice over, that’s why we’re fundraising to get some new outbuildings: every hedgehog deserves a chance,’ says Janette.

‘They’re important for our ecological system but they’re in decline. This time of year is when deaths and injuries occur: be careful if you’re strimming and ensure that ponds have an escape route.’

Janette, who funds everything herself and works with a small team of volunteers, aims to return the hedgehogs in her care to the wild, but adds: ‘It can’t always happen, for example we have a hedgehogs who are blind, so they become permanent residents and we have one naughty chap who every time he’s released, returns the next day.’

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