Heritage guardians celebrate town’s achievements

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Community was the theme of this year’s Blackpool Civic Trust awards which recognised projects ranging from the refurbishment of the Grand Theatre to the extension of a works canteen.

More than 160 guests gathered at the Imperial Hotel for the annual ceremony overseen by Blackpool Civic Trust chairman Joan Humble.

Shirley Hunt and Gary Pretty (centre) with the Community Award presented to the Friends of the Illuminations

Shirley Hunt and Gary Pretty (centre) with the Community Award presented to the Friends of the Illuminations

She said: “The evening was a very enjoyable way to celebrate individual and group achievement in Blackpool.

“I am pleased the Mayor and Mayoress Coun Kath Rowson and Mrs Joan Goldin could join us, together with both Blackpool MPs, Gordon Marsden and Paul Maynard.

“The 2016 awards especially highlight the good work of community groups and also businesses in Blackpool which are supporting our local economy.

“I am pleased this year’s ceremony took place at the Imperial Hotel which is itself celebrating its 150th anniversary.

“We all enjoyed a very successful event.”

The winners in each category are:-

Junior School Environmental Shield: Hawes Side Academy

The school was recognised for its work including becoming an expert centre for the Global Learning Programme, which has seen the creation of a network of 23 local schools focusing on global concerns including sustainability.

Pupils also got involved in the Wildlife Trust and helped create new habitats at St Annes sand dunes.

They have won national recognition for their efforts.

Senior School Environmental Shield: Highfurlong School

A project to transform the outdoor area at the school has seen the arrival of a Lottery funded giant poly tunnel which is used to grow plants.

Another scheme is the Bug Hotel which enables pupils to explore nature.

Funding was also secure to create attractions suitable for a range of physical disabilities including a wheelchair roundabout, swing and activity trail.

Blackpool Council Conservation Award: Jubb and Jubb Ltd for their detailed survey work on the Winter Gardens.

Lynda Jubb and Richard Clews of Jubb and Jubb carried out vital survey work over the length of a year to assess and record the condition of the building.

They were helped by digital survey equipment from Bury Associates, and engineering assistance from John Avent.

The result is the council now possesses thousands of photographs, data sheets and digital information about the Grade II listed landmark.

Community Award: The Friends of the Illuminations

Since it was set up seven years ago, the group has raised more than £100,000 towards the Illuminations.

Fundraising events have included banquets, and the ‘Buy a Lamp’ appeal.

The Friends are a collection of volunteers, many with businesses, who recognised the importance of the Lights to the culture and economy of the town.

Best Open Spaces: 1 Jubilee Gardens (Gynn)

The Friends of Jubilee Gardens was formed in May 2016 and have transformed what was a tired and neglected area.

Volunteers meet twice a week to clear paths, plant and prune.

Their most recent project has been the reinstatement of the once broken waterfall, enhancing the Blue Light Memorial area.

Best Open Spaces: 2 Aspire Academy, Memorial Garden

The Trustees of the Blackpool Grammar School Old Boys Memorial Fund donated their final legacy to the creation of a Memorial Garden in memory of Superintendent Gerry Richardson, who was shot in the line of duty in 1971.

The garden will be used as a focal assembly point for pupils at Aspire Academy.

It also commemorates and celebrates three schools which have left an important legacy for Blackpool.

Best Refurbishment: The Grand Theatre

Over the past few years a series of improvements has been carried out to improve facilities.

Work came about following the purchase of an adjoining building, and a decision to lease space above shops next door to the theatre.

This includes the provision of new dressing rooms and meeting spaces, and the original dress circle bar has been restored to its original size.

Transforming Blackpool: Harry Ramsden at Blackpool Tower

Manchester-based design company CDS Wilman was handed the task of transforming the former Tower Lounge into the new Harry Ramsden’s restaurant.

The upgrade includes a 250 seat eaterie and a 60 seat quick-service takeaway outlet.

Designers were given the challenge of creating modern facilities which reflected the heritage of the Grade I listed Blackpool Tower.

Special Award: 1 Glasdon’s Works Canteen

The company, which employs around 200 people at its Preston New Road site, has extended its previously cramped canteen into a neighbouring office.

The aim was to create more space and better facilities which has improved staff morale.

Architects created a unique design featuring curved timber ceilings and bright furniture to
 introduce colour and vibrancy.

Special Award: 2 Carers Centre

In 2015, the Beaverbrooks Charitable Trust bought Blenheim House on Newton Drive for the Blackpool Carers Centre.

But the building was in need of extensive renovation, and so was chosen to be part of the BBC’s DIY SOS Big Build special.

TV presenter Laurence LLewelyn Bowen helped design the new centre and more than 300 volunteers and donors took part.