What the locals really think of Ormskirk
PUBLISHED: 00:00 03 March 2016
From art, booming business and ladies that know how to strike a ball, there’s always something new happening in Ormskirk
Named as one of the best schools in the country for cricket and with a trophy cabinet to match, you wouldn’t want to be up against Ormskirk School girls’ cricket club any time soon. The Cricketer has placed the Lancashire school in the top 100 schools in Britain after being selected from hundreds of applicants to make the list.
‘We were so proud to be included in the list,’ said teacher, Laura Goff, who is in charge of girls’ cricket. ‘We were also one of only six schools to be given a special award for excellence in being grounded in the local community and utilising cricket as a cause for good.’
This cause for good started in 2005, when the school entered into the Lady Taverns competitions. Many of the students within the team had played cricket at primary school, and were also training at local cricket clubs to progress to a higher standard.
‘We gradually developed players and in 2010 decided to enter bigger competitions,’ said Laura. ‘Current students and team members Rachel and Laura went with us to Lord’s for the first time which was great. We came second in the older team and third in the younger.’
From there, the girls have gone from strength to strength, playing in a number of national and county competitions. The U13’s team have been county and national winners at the Lady Taverners on numerous occasions, as have the U15 team – who recently won at Lords in the 2015 national final of the competition.
‘Last summer we played the ladies Marylebone Cricket Club, and were the first state school to be invited which is a massive honour. The ladies retire at a certain point and give you an opportunity for a team like us to have a good game. It was an enjoyable day with year seven to sixth form students participating.’
Many of the students are shining outside of the school team. Twins, Erin and Lucy Staunton-Turner, 16, both play in England Women’s Development Programme as well as the Lancashire County Cricket Club’s U17 team. Rachel Dickinson, 17, is part of the LCB Thunder women’s first team, alongside Laura Jackson, 18, who joined in 2016 after being on loan to Cheshire.
‘Ladies cricket is really booming right now, and we are having the opportunity to be a part of it,’ said pupil Laura. ‘Normally, when students join clubs at school it can fizzle out, but not here as we also have the chance to train with full, professional squads.’
Laura Goff added that year on year girls’ cricket is becoming increasingly popular within the school, and they currently have over 30 students in the year seven indoor cricket club. ‘Headteacher John Doyle has been incredibly supportive and encouraging of sports at Ormskirk School, in particularly the promotion and backing of the girls’ cricket. The Chance to Shine national program has also been great. It’s excellent to have these initiatives to get more women into cricket. Having a few really talented girls in the team as roles models has really helped encourage others to join. They’re often picked for the boys’ team!’
From pop-up artwork in the town centre and the West Lancashire Open Exhibition, through to being the only venue in the north of England to host an exclusive Somerset House exhibition, there’s always something going on at The Chapel Gallery in Ormskirk. Located on St Helens Road, the West Lancashire Borough Council facility has been open since 2001 as is going strength to strength each year.
With the addition of a vibrant café, run by Hunkie Dorrie Catering, gift shop and pop-up library The Reading Room, the gallery is a space filled with innovative contemporary art and crafts from around the region and across the UK. They’ve also recently received a grant of £127,933 from Arts Council England, with which they are hoping to develop a first-floor exhibition and events space, effectively doubling the range of activities currently provided, and include a lift so the new exhibition space will be fully accessible.
‘We have a strong following within the community which we are really proud of. It’s one of the reasons we are still here, as the community is at the heart of what we do,’ said gallery officer Ruth Owen. ‘As well as the locals, we also attract a wealth of people and artists from around the country coming to the gallery. Through this cultural tourism, it has a knock on effect of people eating, drinking and staying within the town which is great.’
Most recently, a group of university students from Huddersfield travelled for a consecutive year to the Chapel Gallery to view the World Illustration Awards - a touring show from Somerset House in London. The only venue in the north of England to secure this prestigious exhibition of international artists and illustrators, the staff at the gallery are hoping to make it an annual event.
‘From April 16 we will also be hosting a national touring exhibition of illustrator Nick Sharrat’s work: Pirates, Pants & Wellyphants, in conjunction with Gallery 20/21,’ said Jenni Ashcroft, outreach and education officer at the gallery.
Nick’s work, instantly recognisable as the illustrations of children’s author Jacqueline Wilson’s books, will no doubt be a huge draw for visitors. ‘It will be split into two phases. The second will see young people create art work and animation through Aardman studios which is a great opportunity to inspire and get them involved. It links with our popular art clubs, which started in 2011.’
Young people will also involved in the renewal of a new main entrance to the gallery, which will be funded by the Arts Council England grant. The aim is to make the front of the building more eye-catching and will feature bespoke glass windows developed by artist Jo Vincent, who will be working with Barnardo’s Lancashire Young Carers.
‘The gallery is a huge tool for education,’ added Jenni. ‘Jo will do a workshop with them, so they learn new skills and make a quality product. She has already worked with us before on the sculptural lighting that is throughout the building. It’s really empowering for those taking part and builds confidence to see their work exhibited.’
Love Ormskirk revisited
Katie Givens of Pandora’s Box launched Love Ormskirk back in 2012, in a bid to bring community and businesses together to tackle the issue of the town’s declining high street. Working together with Rachelle Atherton, owner of designer clothes shop Competitive Edge, over the past three years Katie has maintained around 50 members in the scheme – all a variety of businesses and professional services in the town.
‘It’s been a journey,’ said Katie. ‘We got the Healthy High Street accolade in 2014, which was great as we were one of 29 towns chosen. With this, we have Boots, Marks & Spencer and Santander on board to give us bespoke support. They can help and back us by using their resources for any marketing or events.’
With these big brands on Love Ormskirk’s side, the group have received even more support from the council. The team, along with other groups and people, have formed a management group to create a town centre strategy.
‘We only have limited resources, so there is no spare money in the pot to set up many events and we previously had to put bids in with the council. Now this management group has been formed with Edge Hill University and student union, Ormskirk Community Partnership, the council and ourselves, we can aim to get things that we would like done quicker.’
The group will meet quarterly, but other divisions beneath have been formed to tackle particular issues: markets and parking, marketing, public realm buildings and BID.
‘The set up of this group is a really positive step for Love Ormskirk. It makes us a body involved and creates good cohesion and communication between key people and groups in the town. We just want to achieve, utilise and then capitalise.
Ormskirk in fact has one of the lowest vacancy rates at 5%, with the national average being 15%. Although people may be annoyed at the rise of charity shops or empty units, it isn’t a true reflection on how the town is doing and there are some brilliant businesses here.’
Where is it?
Ormskirk can be found easily off the A59 or A570. The market town is roughly 19 miles from Preston and nine miles from Southport. Postcode for satnav: L39 3RB
Where to park?
There are numerous of short stay and long stay pay and display car parks in the centre and outskirts of the town. Visit www.westlancsdc.gov.uk for a map of car parks and prices.
Why move there?
Adele Morey, sales manager at Dorbcrest Homes who have 110 new homes on the site of the former grammar school, said: ‘The close proximity to all the local amenities is a bonus – with the shops cafes and restaurants in the town centre just a five minute walk away. In contrast, the open fields and woodland walks are also on the doorstep meaning the town has something for everyone.’