St Annes Promenade is to be given a bright all-year new look centred around the town’s famous statue of Les Dawson.
Volunteers from St Annes In Bloom are spending an £8,000 grant from Tesco on plants designed to give the area on the town’s promenade a bright new look all year round - and a set of interactive artworks are planned to add further to the appeal of the site.
The money, generated by the 5p levy on carrier bags, has been awarded through the supermarket giant’s Groundwork UK Scheme, from which grants are awarded to community groups aiming to improve gardens.
Known as the Peace and Sensory Garden since the unveiling of the Dawson statue eight years ago, the site adjacent to St Annes Pier is to be renamed the Peace and Happiness Garden.
It is hoped that the new look will provide a key magnet for tourists and, with the volunteers working closely with Fylde Council, is intended to be in full bloom in time for next summer.
The plans have been warmly welcomed by Les’s widow Tracy, who said: “I think it’s amazing and thanks to so much to the people from St Annes In Bloom for coming up with the idea.”
Fiona Boismaison, chairman of St Annes In Bloom, said plants have been specially selected so the garden looks its best all year round.
She said: “We know that visitors to the town come to see the statue of our local comedy hero and so we want the garden to have a fun element which raises the spirits and is something of which the people of St Annes can be proud.
“A planting plan has been designed which includes plants which are suitable for the windy and sandy conditions and the aim is to have sustainable planting with year-round interest.
“Fylde Council has made the plan and is sourcing the plants, clearing and improving the soil in the borders will be happening soon and the planting will take place using volunteers in spring.
“St Annes in Bloom committee members have also been consulting with Fylde about introducing art into the garden which complements the Les Dawson statue and also fulfils the original idea of the garden appealing to the senses.
“Some of the art will be living, in that plants will be used in the designs but we also want to have a community art project there and research has already started in finding a suitable artist.”
Tracy added: “The statue and the garden are a popular attraction but these amazing plans will make it so much better and I am really looking forward to it.
“I get letters from fans all over asking about the statue and perhaps some signposting would be the idea complement to this work.
“Some say they have been to Lytham and couldn’t find it, while even some who head for St Annes say they have missed it because it is sunken and not signposted.
“It’s great that it such an attraction and this work will add greatly to that area.
“We still go down at Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions to dress the statue and it’s wonderful that Les is still so much loved.”
Coun Cheryl Little, chairman of Fylde Council’s tourism and leisure committee and town mayor of St Annes, said: “I’m delighted to hear about this plan.
“The Les statue and its surrounding garden is a big attraction already and this will make it even more welcoming and hopefully encourage even greater numbers of visitors.
“The statue area is very often a first port of call for visitors after parking their cars on the seafront and it’s the ideal way for the town to present the perfect first impression.
“With events such as the Kite Festival, we are attracting ever greater numbers of visitors and it is so important that they are impressed by what they see and want to keep on coming back.”
John Moxham, chairman of St Annes Chamber of Trade, said: “It’s a great idea and all credit to the volunteers of St Annes In Bloom.
“We are all very proud of the Les Dawson statue and anything which will make that area even more attractive and encourage visitors is very welcome.
“It is good to see the 5p levy on plastic bags put to such good use.”
The statue of Les, who lived in Lytham up his death in 1993, was unveiled in October 2008, having been sculpted by Graham Ibbeson, who has also created the statue of comics Morecambe and Wise unveiled last week which has quickly proved a big attraction at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens.
Extra volunteers are welcome to help the St Annes In Bloom team with planting and anyone who wants to get involved can contact Fiona Boismaison for details at firstname.lastname@example.org