How Park View 4 U in Lytham brought the local community together

PUBLISHED: 00:00 07 November 2019

The Junior Park Run volunteers

The Junior Park Run volunteers

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The Lytham community came together to support and help establish Park View. Now, in its 15th year, it is flourishing

A giant willow bee in the kitchen gardenA giant willow bee in the kitchen garden

The team from Park View 4 U in Lytham are used to a challenge. On the morning we visited, United Utilities were all hands to the pump, literally. Recent deluges of rain and an overloaded storm drain meant the football fields looked more like a lake. But Julie Norman, park ranger, education manager and person responsible for running the park, was all smiles.

'This happening has meant we've discovered interesting information about the land here,' said Julie. 'The area that's flooded used to be a lake for the Clifton family of Lytham Hall, which we hadn't known.

'This will get sorted and the fields will be usable again. Other than the football teams who have relocated for a few weeks, nothing else had to be cancelled or changed. It's testament to how people rally around to help.'

It's this indomitable spirit that has been a strong factor in Park View 4 U's success. When the idea was first mooted to provide space in the town for children to play, the land off Station Road was boggy, unusable and the football goalposts had sunk so far into the ground you could step over them. But that did not deter the Lytham community who, in 2003, banded together to make sure that play space became a reality.

Park View 4 U, LythamPark View 4 U, Lytham

'People in Lytham were asked what they wanted,' said Julie, a former head of education for Lancashire Wildlife Trust who has been at Park View since 2012. 'It was more than just a field to kick a football about.

'They asked for a skate ramp and BMX track, next came the swings and other equipment. Now, we have so much more with the kitchen garden, café, an eco pod that's used for community events, forest and beach school activities, Junior Park Run, a woodland walk, our Out of the Woods Festival and an amazing park. It's wonderful.'

Park View and the work done by Julie, education officer Rachel Harrison and their army of around 50 volunteers is so successful it had been used as a model by other areas looking to emulate their success. They are currently undergoing a youth exchange to Berlin - a group of young people will travel to the city to help do graffiti art on a skate park as well as perform music and skate. It is then hoped young German skaters will then come to Park View to help renovate Lytham's skate ramps, too.

Rachel Harrison and Julie NormanRachel Harrison and Julie Norman

Park View has also been recognised with several awards from Britain in Bloom including for Best Public Park - an accolade normally reserved for the likes of Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. It has just been announced they have won a The Bees Needs Year of Green Action Awards his month, at the event organised by Defra. They have been recognised for their Pollen Counts project which, with Grow Wild UK and hugely popular local crochet group Seriously Hooked Up, aimed to highlight the importance of bees and wildflowers on our eco system as well as giving children and adults more knowledge on how to protect bees. As a part of the project, they set the Guinness World Record for the largest swarm of 1,254 woollen bees.

'Seriously Hooked Up meet at Park View's Eco Pod and they're a incredible group that really has helped reduce isolation and improve mental health of people who attend,' said Julie. 'We got this idea as a part of Pollen Counts to hide crocheted or knitted bees within a three mile radius of the park. They were for people to find and could exchange the bees for wildflower seeds at the park. We did it but then people started contacting us asking if they could do more bees for us. We had woollen bees sent to us from as far as Australia and all around the UK. It's a project that's really taken off.

'The award really is the best news. We are so proud of the work we have done on the bee project and to see this be recognised really is wonderful.

Fundraising, Julie admits, is Park View's biggest challenge and as well as applying for many grants, there are also fundraising events and donation pots around the park. Julie hopes to start replacing some of the older equipment to make sure Park View remains a valuable part of the community for many more years.

'Park View 4 U is a place that just wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the Lytham community, the volunteers and the trustees,' said Julie. 'We are so lucky to have people who want to support us and see us do well.

'I love coming to work here, see the faces of people we work with, children who come to our beach school sessions who have never felt sand between their toes before. It really lifts your heart. Park View 4 U is a special place.'

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