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Big Lottery News

Carol has continued to work with the Big Lottery team by giving two telephone interviews since the beginning of the year, with an official monitoring visit in late June. The feedback, we are pleased to say, has been all around positive and we look forward to maintaining and increasing activities at the Centre with their help and support.

We are now at the end of the first of a five year funding bid that was awarded to Crownway Community Centre in June 2010. We are already close to or have succeeded in accomplishing many of our proposed outcomes, which focus around:

  • Developing a strong volunteer programme; we now have over twenty experienced volunteers who dedicate hundreds of hours of their time to the centre every month
  • Successful training for at least fifty individuals each year in a range of fields
  • Promoting the health, wellbeing and social inclusion of the over-fifties via a gentle exercise program and other activities
  • Establishing strong links with an array of key organisations in the borough for the benefit of the community
  • Providing social activities for 150 young people by the end of the project

Gordon Blackburn

Gordon has been associated with Earlestown Baptist Church for approximately 60 years, firstly as an active member of the Youth Club where he played Table Tennis, Badminton and helped to organise various social activities, variety concerts and pantomime productions which were held in the hall and enjoyed by Church members and local people from the community.

He met his wife Glenys in the Youth Club and were married in the Baptist Church in 1964 and both continued assisting in Church and Sunday School activities until they moved to Manchester for a few years to be closer to Gordon’s work place. They returned in the 1970’s and continued with assisting in Sunday School and social activities

After the Church building was demolished and fund raising work had begun by existing Church members, Gordon was invited to join the management committee and has been able to contribute to the setting up of the New Earlestown Baptist Church and Crownway Community Centre and continue to assist in its maintenance and organisation.

During the fundraising days Gordon went busking all over the North West and composed a Crownway Anthem which he used to sing during his busking – he raised a lot of money about £700 or more.

Gordon is a ‘time-served engineer’. That is where his talent for doing odd jobs comes in. He left industry to work as a classroom assistant at Penkford School. Up to his retirement, he would do as much as he could for the Centre and when he retired in September (I think it was 2007), the Centre became a life saver for him – he likes to keep busy and we have heard him say more than once, he doesn’t know what he’d have done in his retirement if the Centre wasn’t there.

Gordon used to do afternoon tea dances for Crownway just after we opened. That is one of the fables of Crownway. The first week we opened we had events on every day morning and afternoon. One afternoon we did a tea dance and the place was absolutely heaving, we couldn’t have coped with any more and it was really good. Of course everything was free because Beryl got a grant off somebody to put on the events. Anyway, they all kept saying “this is what we want in this area, when are you doing the next one”. We put one on about a month later and charged £2 each, and nobody came!!!! From that Gordon got the idea of line dancing – he’d never done line dancing, but in his own inimitable style, he looked into it and the rest is history.

Gordon is an asset to Crownway and nothing is too much trouble. His present duties and activities include:

  • Setting up audio/visual equipment for centre users when required.
  • General building maintenance and repair that does not require employing outside contractors.
  • Facilitates an informal computer class for beginners on a Monday
  • Runs the Line Dancing class on a Thursday evening
  • Supports the café staff on a Tuesday morning
  • Opens and closes the building on a Tuesday and Thursday evening for centre users whilst working in the café

Crownway would not be the centre it is today without volunteers like Gordon.

New Crownway Admin Assistant

Since March 2011, we have a new Administration Assistant working part-time in the office. Craig comes to us with previous experience at another community centre in Newton-le-Willows and will be a great asset to the Crownway team. Since becoming Centre Manager, Carol – with the help of volunteers – has coped with most of the administration alone, so this new addition will free up much needed time and energy for her to focus on fundraising and further development of projects to benefit the residents of Earlestown and Newton-le-Willows.

Crownway – a Leading Lights community project

We have recently been highlighted and featured as a Leading Lights community project — by Halton & St Helens VCA — which recognises Crownway as having made a significant, positive and substantive contribution to community empowerment and cohesion in the local area. This was a great achievement to all involved with the Centre…. well done everybody!

Leading Lights was funded by Northwest Together We Can through the Department for Communities & Local Government. The project was undertaken by six sub-regional infrastructure organisations led by Halton & St Helens Voluntary & Community Action. This magazine publication celebrates the contribution of six community projects supported by local voluntary organisations in the northwest.

Successful community projects have long been as diverse and individual as the people they support and the neighbourhoods they serve. Such wonderful variety is undoubtedly inspiring and in many ways embodies the spirit of much of the rhetoric within “Big Society”. The challenge that variety poses is to understand, capture and communicate the recipe for success that the best projects represent.

Leading Lights presents the findings of a review of six distinct, effective community projects from across Greater Merseyside. Each project has made a positive and substantive contribution to community empowerment and cohesion in its locality. Each project has evolved in its own way to meet specific needs and yet within the fabric of the projects as a group there are some common strands, you could say golden threads, that come together to create the conditions under which success can be achieved.