Why community is right at the heart of Croston

PUBLISHED: 00:00 08 August 2018

Friends of Croston Station;  Richard Foulger, Barbara Conroy, David Sandwell, Eva Norris, Kath Almond and Julian Eastwood

Friends of Croston Station; Richard Foulger, Barbara Conroy, David Sandwell, Eva Norris, Kath Almond and Julian Eastwood


People of all ages are doing their bit to ensure Croston retains its place as one of our favourite villages

Croston is a picture postcard village, the sort of place where you might expect to see Miss Marple pottering about her daily business.

Actress Penelope Keith declared herself a fan when she visited with a television crew for UK Village of the Year earlier this year. It made the final four.

Of course, that isn’t the first time Croston has been on the television. It’s a village that is famous for its flowers and so the Croston in Bloom group – affectionately known as The Bloomers – has also had its moment of fame on the BBC. Led by Ann Peet, the group has won gold medals in the RHS North West in Bloom and two silver gilts in RHS Britain in Bloom.

‘We know people drive for miles to admire our floral displays, which are pretty special and so we have a reputation to keep up and we do!’ says Ann.

Children and staff of Croston Pre-School NurseryChildren and staff of Croston Pre-School Nursery

‘As well as planting and caring for containers along the River Yarrow, we encourage people to make displays on their doorsteps. We even have our own flower, the Croston Cosmos, and it makes an appearance in many displays.’

But for all its prettiness, Croston isn’t a village preserved in aspic; it is home to plenty of young people and many of them attend Croston Pre-School Nursery. Located in the beautiful grade II listed Croston Old School and run by highly qualified staff, it is a not for profit organisation where children are encouraged to develop through play.

‘We’re so proud of our happy atmosphere, although with over 20 children aged from two to four, we do know how to deal with the rare argument over a teddy! We’re really blessed with the support of the community and we encourage our little ones to be involved with it too; after all they are the future,’ says manager, Janet Williams who, with the support of the community, has organised activities such as yoga and tennis for her young charges. They also played a part in Croston Open Gardens and were quite rightly proud of their efforts.

Hopefully, these budding Monty Dons and Charlie Dimmocks will one day find their way along to The Friends of Croston Station, where volunteers of all ages – although four may be just a little on the young side – are always warmly welcomed.

Church Street looking toward St Michael and All Angels ChurchChurch Street looking toward St Michael and All Angels Church

Croston Station was one of the first stations in the country to have a Friends group and has since gone on to win awards such as North West in Bloom Best Station. As leader, Kath Almond explains: ‘We generally make sure things around the station are in tip-top shape, after all it’s the entrance to the village.

‘But the disused line is our pride and joy and a lot of the things we use have been donated by villagers. To begin with it was a bit of a mess, overgrown and neglected, but we re-laid the original block paving and, as well as flowers and plants, we grow courgettes, potatoes, onions, green beans and soft fruits. They taste delicious – that’s Croston soil for you!’

The group usually meet on Sunday mornings when anyone who fancies a bit of physical exercise is welcome to join in. But they’re a healthy lot in Croston. They have their own sports club, a fabulous facility run by the community, and it’s where the Croston Velo Cycle Club is based. The club, which was formed in 2014, by just three friends who enjoyed cycling around the area, has had a meteoric rise.

‘At our first meeting, about 50 people came along which was a bit of a surprise, as we had booked one of the smallest meeting rooms.

Neville Norcross of Croston Together in front of the Croston Village CharterNeville Norcross of Croston Together in front of the Croston Village Charter

‘Today, we have 120 members and rising. We have a very healthy ladies’ section and we’re hoping to establish a junior section,’ explains founding member Andrew Maddran.

The club regularly cycle as far away as the Trough of Bowland as well as organising events such as the Croston Velo Road Race.

The Women’s Institute in Croston is 70 next year and president Ann Nicholson said: ‘It’s important to us that we have younger members, as we want our famous vibrancy to still be going for the next 70 years.

‘So we have lots of satellite groups for things such as reading, walking, painting and yes, we do have a gin club. It seems to be the most fashionable drink around, so why should we be left out? We’ve even had a trip to a distillery and learned how to blend our own.’

So confident are they that gin will be part of their identity for some time to come, that they have even made sure that it is represented on their banner, along with the Victoria sponge and lemon drizzle cakes they’re locally famous for.

The ladies are a lively, happy bunch and have raised funds for causes such as Croston Together. This voluntary community group had originally been formed as Croston Flood Relief to help those hundreds of villagers affected by the Boxing Day Floods of 2015.

‘It had been so good for morale that it seemed a shame to let it ebb away with the floods, so we reformed as Croston Together,’ explains chairman, Neville Norcross who, before retiring, had been headteacher at the village primary school.

‘The aim is to make sure we encourage, enrich and engage with villagers through schemes like Croston Open Gardens. We also asked people for ideas for a village charter, things that we could all do to make life nicer for each other; such as talking to the postman, shopping locally or joining a group.

‘It was the charter that impressed the judges of UK Village of the Year.’ Today, the Village Charter stands proudly on the village green, reminding everyone that community is right at the heart of Croston.

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