Now a fabulous open green space for everyone to enjoy, Hawthorne Park wasn’t always like this.
An aerial photo taken in 2001 shows a small play area in one corner, broken concrete and a muddy field used as a dog exercise and toilet area.
In 2003 Jenie Phillips (Thornton Action Group) met local vicar Rev Paul Clemence at a Strategic Partnership meeting and during a discussion session the idea of improving the small play area was born, as both of us had realised that increased house building was bringing more families into Thornton and there were very few open spaces for play and four swings in the whole of Thornton!
Wyre Council as the owners of the land had to be involved and insisted that the Community must be consulted. The result – after meetings with residents, Millfield School Council, local Police, youth groups, council officers and members, was an ambitious plan for a Community Park with play equipment for all age groups, lawns, paths, trees and a wild life area.
The big question was – how to pay for all this?
Wyre Council had some funds to offer but not nearly enough for the full scheme drawn up by the Council’s Environmental Design Officer. With more and more houses swallowing up more and more open space – and more young people needing space to play and exercise, a small scheme was just not good enough.
Then followed a roller coaster ride of six years involving hard work, hope and despondency, sleepless nights, formation of a Charitable Trust, a 50 year lease and much form filling to get sufficient funds.
Eventually work began on Phase 1 in July 2007 which was opened in July 2008, followed by Phase 2 – opened in April 2009, and Phase 3 in May 2010. We celebrated with a party at the Marsh Road Youth Centre with lots of guests – including the Mayor and Mayoress of Wyre, Councillor and Mrs Forsyth. This was followed by a wonderful Community Fun Day in August (2010).
Generous funding has come from the Council, Lancs CC, different ‘pots’ of Big Lottery Funding, Lancashire Environment Fund, and Rotary, local businesses, and generous community support too.
What began as a mini-project to improve the little play area costing £10,000 has now become Hawthorne Park for the community at a cost of £480,000. It is jointly managed by Wyre Council and the Hawthorne Park Trust, helped by numerous Friends of the Park who pick up litter, report problems and generally give it lots of TLC.
In July 2011 the ugly concrete fencing was transformed by the mural showing scenes in Thornton – from the Mill to the Estuary, designed and spray painted by artist Gavin Renshaw and members of the community of all ages.
The Park has won numerous awards – for example last year and very recently this year again the coveted Green Flag, given for an excellent well managed, countryside space, providing an inviting exciting Park for the entire community.
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