Uncle Albert – He saw the bombing of Liverpool from a birds eye view point

One of my greatest friends is Charles Walker a still quick witted and lively 89 year old who only got into politics when he was 74! I mention Charles because of a chance remark about Remembrance Day that I overheard today. The remark was made between two people I do not know but it was to the effect that neither knew anyone who had taken part in WWII.

Charles is Uncle Albert to his close friends and yes it does come from the old chap in Only Fools and Horses who was famous for the catch phrase ‘During the War’. When we got to know Charles he would, without too much prompting, tell us about his experiences during the war. On one occasion I recall him telling us about when he worked in George Henry Lees Department Store in Liverpool and how he would be sent to stand on the roof at night to fire watch during the bombing raids. In fact Charles was on that roof the night the church at the top of Bold Street was bombed out. The walls of the church are still standing as Liverpool folks will know and so is Charles although his knees are not quite as strong as they once were. Strangely, he does not seem to think of himself as brave but how many of us in this day and age would stand on a roof in a city being bombed to hell and back?

By the way Charles is a Town Councillor in Maghull and was a campaigner for the now hugely busy interchange at Maghull Station. He has also campaigned against the spread of Japanese Knot Weed locally but most of all he is one of the nicest and kindest people I have ever known.

Graham Hewer is to retire – I must be getting old!

Today I received in the post an invitation to the retirement party of Graham Hewer who is the Head Teacher of Green Park Primary School in Maghull. I remember Graham starting as Head Teacher well, as my daughter Jennifer was a pupil there at the time; but that was 18 years ago! Jennifer is now all but 26, where have the years gone?

I wish Graham well as I know, having spent some 20 years as a Governor of the School (now retired from that myself), how much he has done to develop Green Park Primary and integrate it with the community whilst carrying on the good work of his predecessor David Killick.

Frank Hornby – Maghull’s world famous resident

Tomorrow I am meeting with officials from Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (see my link to their web site) at the World Museum in William Brown Street Liverpool. I am going with fellow trustees of the Frank Hornby Trust which we set up to help to develop a Hornby Museum in Maghull.

For those who don’t know Frank Hornby lived in Maghull for the majority of his working life in two houses, one being The Hollies on Station Road, the other Quarry Brook which now forms apart of Maricourt High School. The Hollies gained the first ever English Heritage Blue Plaque outside of London thanks to the efforts of Maghull Town Council.

We have made considerable strides with the Trust over recent years, having now established a large room within the new Meadows Leisure Centre as a base for our activities. This was done with the help and support of Sefton Council to whom we are grateful indeed. The next step is to fit out the room and continue to develop a collection of Meccano, Hornby Trains and Dinky Toys which were the major products of the Hornby factory in Binns Road Liverpool. We are in discussions with the Heritage Lottery Fund for help from them and our meeting tomorrow is to try to establish a working relationship with Museums and Galleries on Merseyside for the Trust to borrow items for display in Meadows leisure Centre.

Remembrance day in Aintree Village

Today I attended the dedication of the new war memorial next to Old Roan Station (see my previous posting of 7th November). In particular I noticed 3 soldiers, one serving (Alan Dowd, a Sergeant in the Scots Guards) one not so long ago retired (Jack Colbert – Ex Royal Green Jackets) and an old navy man, whose name I did not catch, who had a chest full of medals from his days of National Service. All three were proud of their work defending the Country and in turn we were proud of them. 

Remembrance Day is sobering and possibly it is lost on some young people in particular, yet it remains an important time for us all to reflect on the horrors of war. Whether you agree with me about Iraq being an illegal war or not (I firmly believe that it was by the way) all of us can come together to thank those who are brave enough to fight for their Country.

Big Society? – Well here’s a good small one in Lydiate

Like many I have often wondered what on earth the slogan ‘big society’ actually means. I suspect it means many differing things to many differing people but could this be an example of it in Lydiate?

This morning I was out with friends delivering a leaflet advertising the new and quite excellent Lydiate Village Centre that I have spoken of before. We were doing it as volunteers, the Village Centre was promoted and developed by the determination of volunteers, the photo’s in the leaflet were done by a local volunteer group (Maghull Photography Club – see my link to their web site) and a volunteer group is being established to help the Parish Council run the new Village Centre. I think this is one good definition of the ‘big society’.

If the ‘big society’ is meant to be less Government interference in our lives, less waiting for the Government or the Council to to resolve issues and it is more of local communities coming together to find the solutions that work best for them then fine I am signed up and participating. If it’s prescribed ‘volunteer days’ pushed by big brother and organised by officialdom then that’s another matter.

Meadows Leisure Centre/Maghull Town Hall – Problems of success

I spent a couple of hours this morning with the Leisure Centre Manager and Maghull Town Council’s Facilities Manager checking out issues associated with this unique Sefton Council/Maghull Town Council project.

Like every new building you come across there are issues that were not prominent during the planning process but which need to be addressed when it is being used by real people. Having said that I must admit there were few snags with the development of this brand new leisure centre. However, the fact that it is connected to Maghull Town Hall (which was already on the KGV site and is in reality a community centre with a Town Council office) means that it has become a significant community hub. So what are problems? Too small a car park, a requirement to signpost activities and facilities better and a need to manage traffic flows around what at times is a very busy site.

We came up with a number of action points and an enjoyable time it was. I would rather get down to dealing with and trying to solve real community issues than spend time in often tedious Council meetings. For every meeting I go to I need to be out in the community; it helps retain a balance. Too many meetings leads to too much tedium!