Warrington shows its caring side

Hidden Charms on stage at the sell-out Viola Beach tribute gig in Warrington

Hidden Charms on stage at the sell-out Viola Beach tribute gig in Warrington - Credit: Ellen Offredy

People in Warrington are always ready to help those in need, as Paul Mackenzie reports

Nora Carlin with some of the donations she has received for Syrian refugees

Nora Carlin with some of the donations she has received for Syrian refugees - Credit: Hazel Hughes

The image of three-year-old Syrian refugee Aylan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach last September provoked a worldwide outpouring of emotion. Many people were prompted to make donations to charities helping with the humanitarian aid crisis, but the heart-rending picture inspired one Warrington grandmother to begin a charity of her own. Nora Carlin has since sent four 40 foot containers full of clothes and other essentials to people displaced from their homes by the war in Syria. ‘I saw that picture on the news and wanted to do something to help,’ she said. ‘I said I’d collect clothes and things in my local area and it just exploded. The response was amazing.’ Within weeks of the harrowing image appearing in the news Nora had amassed enough supplies to send van loads of aid and the first container to help those in need who had escaped Syria and reached Greece. She has since had to move to bigger premises on two occasions to be able to cope with the volume of donations. ‘I thought we’d just get a few bin bags but we had a constant stream of donations and people volunteering to help. Anything we receive that’s not suitable, we give to local charities.’ Nora, who runs the Arleys Angels home cleaning and de-cluttering business, now has a team of 100 volunteers working shifts to sort donated items and pack them for transit. And she is in the process of creating a new charity – Charity and Recycling Enterprise UK – which will continue to send donated items to people in need into the future. ‘Wherever the next crisis is, we’ll be able to divert our attentions,’ she said. ‘Unfortunately these things have happened throughout history and they will continue to happen but we will do what we can to help the people affected.’ And once the charity, which will be known as CARE UK, is up and running, Nora has her eyes on premises in Warrington town centre where she hopes to open a shop and café. There may be nothing new about charity shops, but Nora’s efforts were made possible by 21st century technology – the initial appeal for donations and all that has followed were arranged through Facebook. To get involved, or find out more, go to the Refugees – Aid from the North West of England Facebook page.

Lydia Jones with her app in the gym

Lydia Jones with her app in the gym - Credit: n/a

Lydia’s appy now Warrington student Lydia Jones has created an app to help people make friends and get fit after she felt a sense of separation as a result of being home schooled. The 17-year-old said: ‘I was home schooled which worked for me, but left me feeling cut off because it was more difficult to make friends. ‘With the home schooling I really had time to think about myself more, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do with my life, but I didn’t have the social side of school that most people have.’ Lydia, who now studies BTEC Personal Training and Sport Science at Priestley College, has turned to social media to create a community called FitFlash for people who like to exercise, but can’t go to a gym regularly. Thousand people have downloaded FitFlash from the App Store – including users in America and China – and Lydia hopes to reach 50,000 members by the end of the year, giving her the chance to pursue an investor. Lydia came up with the idea for FitFlash a year ago and convinced her older brother and sister to invest some money. She also put in some money she had saved for a car in a bid to get the app off the ground. The app allows users to create their own fitness journal keeping track of workouts and setting personal goals, they can follow friends to keep each other motivated and interact by posting photos of workouts. Users can personalise the app with groups for various sports including football, cycling, golf and crossfit. Lydia said the app had already boosted her confidence and made a difference to many of its members. ‘It’s really helped me discover what I want to do,’ she said. ‘I just hope it helps as many people as possible in the same way.’

The Coral were among the bands to play at the sell-out Viola Beach tribute gig in Warrington

The Coral were among the bands to play at the sell-out Viola Beach tribute gig in Warrington - Credit: Ellen Offredy

Striking the right note for Viola Beach Friends and music lovers made an emotional tribute to Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, and Jack Dakin, the four members of Warrington band Viola Beach who died along with their manager Craig Tarry in a car crash in Sweden earlier this year. A charity gig at the Parr Hall featured a line-up of bands they had played with and acts they admired including The Coral, The Kooks, Blossoms and Eliza and the Bear. The event, which was compered by BBC Radio 1 DJ Phil Taggart, also featured Hidden Charms, The Vryll Society, The Strawberries and Psyblings. Before the gig, a conga line ran to the Parr Hall from the Lounge Bar where the band used to work and played some gigs. All proceeds from the sell-out show went to the families.

Captain Sam Boast

Captain Sam Boast - Credit: not Archant

Warrington’s proud boast Captain Sam Boast from Warrington enlisted in 1909 and served all through World War One, initially as a Corporal. He was wounded in the first battle of Ypres and in 1916 was granted commissioned rank. He won a Military Cross for gallantry in 1918 and was mentioned in despatches. His two brothers also served with the South Lancashires – which eventually became the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment, and is now the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment – as did his father and uncle, who were both awarded Military Crosses. In the 1920s, the officers of the South Lancashire Regiment decided to commission a silver statue to serve as a memorial to all their brother officers who had died in the war. Sculptor Reid Dick, whose work also includes a number of war memorials and the statue of King George V outside Westminster Abbey, was commissioned to make a silver statuette of a junior officer in field service uniform and Sam was selected to be the model because of his family’s extraordinary military record. The statue still stands in the Officer’s Mess of the Regiment’s 1st Battalion in Gibraltar, where, by tradition, it is never polished, to represent the mud and the grime of the Flanders trenches. The top of his steel helmet, though, is shiny from being rubbed for good luck by the generations of officers who have followed him. Sam’s Military Cross and World War One service medals were bought at auction for £1560 a couple of years ago by the Lancashire Infantry Museum at Fulwood Barracks in Preston where they now proudly displayed alongside a miniature of his statue.

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