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Neston - The Year in Review - 2013

Author: Carrie Spacey Published: 18th December 2013 08:30


In this country, we love to talk about the weather.  Well, 2013 certainly gave us plenty to talk about!

From two blasts of snowy weather through a hot, hot Summer and on to the storm surge on December 5, local photographers, both professional and enthusiastic amateurs, ensured we were able to preserve memories of these extreme conditions, within the pages of AboutMyArea Neston.

Every year when I sit down to write the Review, it never ceases to amaze me just how much goes on in Neston in 12 months. Below are just some of the stories we covered during 2013.  More can be found in our current Local News here and in our News Archives here.

All the links have been set up to open in the same window, so once you've read a story that catches your eye, simply use the 'back' button on your browser to return to this Review.


We began 2013 by looking back at the incredible fundraising that went on in 2012 to celebrate Northern Lights Children's Charity's 25th anniversary.  A tremendous example of the great community spirit we have here in Neston.

Still on the subject of looking back, a new page was launched on Facebook - Neston-Parkgate Memories - which quickly became a smorgasbord of nostalgia with hundreds of local residents sharing photos and memories of the area.

CAN Group were celebrating as they secured funding to give local residents the chance to get back into work through volunteering. Meanwhile, Neston Community & Youth Centre announced the appointment of Chloe Parry as the town's new full time youth worker.

Then we had the first blast of Siberian weather, leading to our first 'Neston in the Snow' gallery of the year.

Ness in the Snow - January 2013Winter Wonderland - Ness Gardens in the snow, January 2013

Neston Rotary Club announced that over £2000 had been raised for charity thanks to their efforts the previous year and Neston High School officially opened their newly revamped Student Support Area.


Local schools were busy this month: Woodfall pupils bid farewell as long-standing midday assistant Mrs Williams hung up her apron; it was eyes down for a full house for a charity bingo night at Neston Primary and St Winefride's Primary celebrated Chinese New Year.

February also saw publication of the first of several reports from Rob Ward on the route linking Neston to Deeside (subsequently named the Burton Greenway.)

Local Estate Agents Constables predicted (accurately, as it transpired) that the property market would improve in 2013 and Andrew's Estates told us how they were investing in the future with the employment of new apprentices.

Reverend Alan DawsonA warm welcome to Reverend Alan Dawson in February.

This month we also welcomed the new Vicar of the Parish, Reverend Alan Dawson, with a formal service at the Parish Church attended by many members of the local congregation and dignataries.

We also heard about the success of local resident and U3A member Sheila John, with her Scrabble-themed book publication, 'Wicked Wee Words.'

A brand new shop opened in Parkgate - Angellina Gems - initially stocking gemstones and jewellery, but over the year owners Shaina and Roger added many more intriguing items, creating a must-visit 'goldmine' of esoterica.

The fun-loving staff at Elephant Coffee rounded off February in their own inimitable style, bringing the Harlem Shuffle to Neston High Street.


We heard how thirty young people had enjoyed a free day of Boxing and Football at NCYC, whilst Neston's Air Cadets once more showed us their mettle, winning the annual regional Training Expedition Competition.

Neston Players' Daftas 2013Neston Players' Cliff Inns and Marnie Clark at the 'Daftas.'
Photo by Linda Pelling.

Neston Players rounded-off their Diamond Jubilee celebrations with an uproarious event at Neston Cricket Club, incorporating their not-quite-annual 'Dafta' Awards ceremony.

It was a contentious year for the former Mostyn House School site.  This month saw publication of plans for the development and prompted many comments.  Ultimately revised plans were approved and the works began in the Autumn.  We were also asked to bring people's attention to a petition to save Willaston's Old Mill and it was the end of an era as Cheshire West and Chester Council moved their Neston service point from the Town Hall to the Library.

More busy times for our schools: Little Gems celebrated World Book DayNeston High came out on top at Neston Rotary Club's Technology Tournament; Woodfall Primary pupils won the Ellesmere Port and Neston Maths Quiz; Parkgate Primary had fun with Fairtrade; Fundraising by St Winefride's Parents Association resulted in the delivery of eight iPads to the school and Neston Primary won the inter-schools Netball Tournament.

Comic Relieft at Sainsbury's Neston 2013Going a little crazy for charity at Sainsbury's.

More snow landed on us, resulting in more great photos and lots of people went a little bit crazy as Neston embraced this year's Comic Relief fundraising effort.

One of the loveliest stories in the AMA year happened in March, when we found the family of Jackie Reed - born in Neston but adopted at 8 months, Jackie longed to find any relatives in the area. She was reuinted with her brother, Mickey, thanks to our readers.


AMA predicted a bright future for Neston!AMA predicted a bright future for Neston!

As has become customary, AMA started April with a bit of a giggle - although a lot of people thought it was a truly great idea!  A 'bright future' was predicted for Neston.

Two contrasting stories about nature in Parkgate came along this month - on the plus side, we heard about the wildflower meadow at Park Fields, but then there was the awful damage caused to the Marsh at Parkgate by a fire started deliberately.  Two people were subsequently arrested and the legal process is ongoing.

We were delighted to hear that regular AMA contributor, professional photographer Bernard Rose, won an international competition, with the prize going to Claire House.

Local residents were very happy to see a new restaurant open in Neston, with the arrival of Kri Kri Greek Taverna, which has been busy ever since, thanks to their warm welcome and fabulous, authentic Greek cuisine.

This is Neston - April 2013Hip & Harmony Adult Community Choir performed at This is Neston. Photo by Bernard Rose.

This is Neston took place this month - a two day event when residents could engage with and celebrate the community. People were asked for their views on the future of the Town Hall and Market Square as well as the emerging Neighbourhood Plan. Many local groups and organisations entertained and signed up new members on the Market Square. It was a really positive event, again illustrating the fabulous community spirit that is alive and well in Neston.

Ness Gardens played host to the Young Horticulturalist of the Year finals and a few days later, Neston and District Art Society held their annual show.

Neston High celebrated as their Under 15s Footballers brought home the Emberton Challenge Cup.

At the end of the month we heard that Neston's new Town Centre Manager, Katy Pierce, had been appointed by the Town Council and would be taking up her post in June.


Neston Nomads celebrated becoming the Wirral Sunday Premier Division champions for 2013.

Neston High School presented cheques at the Mayor's BallNeston High School presented cheques at The Mayor's Ball.

At Neston Cricket Club a new Pavilion opened and the Cranston Suite played host to the Mayor of Neston's Charity Ball. At the Ball, Neston High School handed over a cheque following their recent brilliant fundraising efforts.  The event was the last official engagement for outgoing Mayor Pat Hughes, who handed over the chains of office a few days later, to the new Mayor of Neston, Cllr Tom Marlow.

Meanwhile at the Civic Hall, Neston Players' sold-out performances of 'Eurobeat (Almost Eurovision)' were ecstically received, with standing ovations every night.

Neston Players 'Eurobeat.'Neston Players presented 'Eurobeat.' Photo by Linda Pelling.

We heard about 'Build Sell Give' - local developers Harry Phipps & Co announced they had joined forces with Andrew's Estates to develop the former Church Hall site in Willaston into homes, with the unusual twist of a percentage of the proceeds being pledged to youth-based projects both locally and in Sierra Leone.

Bishop Wilson Primary School pupils swam to success this month and we heard that Neston Air Cadet Natalie Fields had won the highest Air Training Corps award.

AMA was delighted to assist with the celebrations of local hairdresser Val Hatton's 50th year of styling in Neston!


Elephant Coffee are Gold!Elephant Coffee are Gold! Photo by Bernard Rose.

June began with the sound of champagne corks popping as Elephant Coffee celebrated their first birthday. It was a huge month for them as they won a Gold award at the prestigious Café Society Awards and announced that next year they will be opening another branch in Parkgate.

This year's CH64 Big Lunch was a great success - beautiful weather ensured Stanney Fields Park was swarming with people enjoying their picnics and free entertainment.

Neston Ladies Day 2013Neston Ladies Day 2013 - Photo by Rob Clive.

Hot on its heels came another gorgeous day for Neston's premier annual occasion - Ladies Day. Local photographers were out in force to cover all the colour and tradition on display.

Here at AMA we celebrated the publication of our 200th edition of our weekly newsletter, Neston News.

Over in Willaston the Festival Society presented a new cycle stand to the village and a Dakota flew over Burton at the start of the annual Burton & Puddington Village Fair.

Neston Hockey Club did us all proud by making it onto the shortlist for the England Hockey Awards and Neston High School bucked national trends on higher ability students.

Meanwhile, local businesses threw themselves into a Blue fundraising day for the Joseph Windsor Heart Trust.


Neston Village Fair - Reverend Alan Dawson gets a soaking!Neston Village Fair - Reverend Alan Dawson gets a soaking! Photo by Steve Ebbrell.

Another sunny day greeted this year's Neston Village Fair - in fact we couldn't resist the 'Phew what a scorcher!' headline and I think the photo of Rev'd Alan Dawson getting a soaking might well be picture of the year!

Neston Primary School launched 'Book Swap'Neston Primary launched Book Swap.

There were a lot of thank-you's recorded this month: Neston Primary launched their Book Swap programme after lots of books were donated to the cause; the Library thanked Marsh Nurseries for their help in keeping the Sensory Garden looking lovely and Trish Carter wrote to us to thank all the organisations who helped with the purchase of a new oven for the drop-in at Neston Methodist Community Centre.

Neston Players celebrated a record year as a change at the helm saw Martin Barker take over as Chairman.

A sad note as Phoenix Shooters wrote to us about the closing of the shooting range at Mostyn House.

Sainsbury's store manager Laura Smith told us about a trip she took with colleague Penny Povey to the Olympic Stadium in Birmingham. 

Our schools were very busy on the run-up to the long holidays: St Winefride's Primary held a very successful summer fair and took the spoils in a regional Maths Challenge; Neston Primary launched their amazing 'rubbish' garden and not long afterwards a famous monster was spotted; there was talk of pumpkins and planets at Parkgate, and their girls cricket team celebrated making it into the County Finals and at Woodfall, the word was Grease!  Meanwhile we also heard about the successes of Wirral Theatre School this year.

The thermometer recorded 30 degrees at The CrossThe thermometer at The Cross recorded 30°.
Photo by Rob Clive.

The lovely weather prompted a slew of photos arriving in our inbox - it was hot, hot, hot! One of the highlights of the Summer came with the Jazz Picnic in Stanney Fields Park, with Neston's Hip & Harmony Adult Community Choir adding to the entertainment on the night.

At the end of the month came the long-awaited official opening of Burton Greenway.


The month began on a high, with the Friends of Park Fields celebrating the granting of QEII status and we heard that two commemorative paving stones will be laid in Neston and Burton to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I in 2014.

Paintballing Tournament in NestonYoung people had fun at the police-organised Paintballing
Tournament in the Summer. Photo by Linda Pelling.

One of our roving photographers, Rob Clive, sent us some great shots of gangsters and hippies taking part in the annual Wirral Historic Vehicles Rally. Back in Neston, our very own Linda Pelling popped down to see the start of the Paintballing Tournament organised by local police officers.

It was a busy month in the parks around the area: Ringway Park re-opened following a programme of improvements; families braved the not-so-sunny weather for the West Vale play day and the Friends of Stanney Fields played host on the annual family fun day.

We heard the welcome news that Mozkitos Coffee House had opened in Parkgate - bringing a warm and friendly food and drinks offer for local residents and visitors alike.

In a media-related blitz of activity, Andy Parry and The Farm's Keith Mullin got cheeky for charity, Linda Pelling sang live on 7 Waves Radio and Granada Reports featured a walk from Willaston to Parkgate with Andy Bonner.

Katy Pierce - Town Centre ManagerTown Centre Manager Katy PIerce. Photo by Bernard Rose.

New Town Centre Manager Katy Pierce introduced herself to the community. Nic Phipps gave us the results of the Balloon Race that started at the Village Fair in aid of OAKS.

Neston High students celebrated as A Level and GCSE results came out - another bumper year for the school.


This month saw the celebration of 100 years of worship at St Michael's Church in Little Neston.

Ness Gardens played host again to BBC Radio 4's Gardeners' Question Time and Elephant Coffee held another of their very popular acoustic music nights.

Two mortar bombs had to be dealt with by the bomb squad in Parkgate and we heard how Neston Primary School pupils had been taking reading to the extreme during the Summer.

Kudos for Koko at Stanney Fields Dog ShowKudos for Koko at Stanney Fields Dog Show. Photo by Jamie Collins.

Celebrations were all around us: The Friends of Park Fields held a QEII Field Day; Neston-based Pet Pals celebrated their third birthday; Neston Primary School won a gold medal in the Cheshire Schools in Bloom competition; Neston Air Cadets scooped up more awards and it was kudos for Koko the Lhasa Apso at Stanney Fields Park Fun Dog Show.

Hip & Harmony streetdancers were 'hopping in Heswall and a group of Kenyan warriors visited Neston Primary.

At the end of the month the first ever Neston & District Business Awards were launched, with businesses throughout the area invited to enter and the public asked to send in nominations for Best Customer Service.


Neston High celebrates student successsesCelebrating success at Neston High.

The refurbished community hall at the United Reformed Church re-opened for business.  Neston High celebrated their students' successes in the preceding twelve months while a group of students took top honours in a regional Film Festival.

There was a lot of controversy this year over an application by the University of Liverpool to place two wind turbines on land in Little Neston. We were also saddened to hear of the break-in at Wirral Riding Centre - much of the kit that was stolen is used by disabled children and Special Olympics riders.

In better news, Neston did well in the Community Pride competition this year; we heard that Leahurst was to play host again to Channel 5's Animal Clinic programme and CAN Group launched 'Neston Flicks' - a community cinema project that is going from strength to strength.

If all that wasn't enough, we also heard that Cllr Janet Janet GriffithsCllr Janet Griffiths - Cheshire Rural Woman of the Year.

Griffiths had picked up a Cheshire Rural Woman of the Year award and Dennis Mellows was crowned 'Golden Age Swimmer of the Year' for the second year running.

We welcomed two brand new businesses: Neston Chiropody and Podiatry taking up residence in the Royal Arcade building in Chester Road and Queesra and King - fashion, photography and cake specialists, in Parkgate Road.


Work began on improvements to Station Road Car Park, one of a slew of projects to come out of the S106 funding that will see more happening in the new year.

Neston's uniformed organisations were out in force on Remembrance Sunday and took part in fundraising for the Poppy Appeal.

Local Councillor Pat Hughes asked for help to set up a community car scheme for visitors to Arrowe Park Hospital.

Our music, theatre and dance enthusiasts were well-served this month: Hip & Harmony CIC received a Big Lottery grant to help them buy essential equipment; Neston Theatre School were picked again for the National Theatre Connections programme and Neston Rotary Club announced the first round winners in their annual Young Musicians competition.

Trace Summers wore blue to raise money for Northern LightsTrace Summers wore blue to raise money for
Northern Lights

Neston Cricket Club hosted the inaugural Neston Sports Awards and we wished a happy first birthday to Birch Tree Health.

Northern Lights thanked local businesses for their superb fundraising efforts this year, with special thanks to Tracey Summers of Tracey's Food Hall, who went the extra mile!

Neston Players received a glowing review for their latest production, 'Dinner.'

In Willaston we welcomed Jackie and Vicky - new owners of The Gift House.

A sour note was struck when thieves targetted the Nat West Bank in Neston, leaving staff shaken.  The police are continuing their enquiries.


In another extreme weather story for the year, the high tide at the Dee Estuary early in December coincided with stormy conditions, leading to dramatic scenes in Parkgate, Little Neston and Burton.

Neston's Christmas Lights were switched on in suitably festive style at the Lights 'n' Lanterns event and Parkgate followed up a week later with a celebration at the newly refurbished Donkey Stand.

Neston Christmas Lights n Lanterns 2013

Newly opened sweet shop, Kandy Station, in Bridge Street, had their own Christmas lights switch-on courtesy of Juice FM. We were also delighted to hear that the Wheatsheaf in Ness had been taken over and would now be both a cosy pub and Italian restaurant, under the new name of The Inn at Ness.

We heard the good news that Stanney Fields Park is to receive a £75,000 face-lift in the New Year, to improve and extend facilities in the popular green space.

A pendant designed and made by Balducci's raised money for the Parish Church renovations fund. We also heard that the deal for Neston Town Council to assume management of the Town Hall and Market Square was back on track for April 2014.

Wirral Theatre School's talented dancers picked up a clutch of awards at the Clwyd Festival of Dance.  Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner John Dwyer presented Neston Parish Church Youth in the Community with a cheque for £1300 to help fund their weekly boxing project for young people.

We heard that a wide range of local businesses had made the shortlist for the Neston & District Business Awards, which will be handed out early next year.

And finally...in what was to be a personal highlight for me in 2013, I was one of the lucky members of Hip & Harmony Adult Community Choir to be chosen to take part in a very special event.  11 of us took to the skies over the UK, singing live on board Virgin Atlantic Little RED domestic flights, spreading Christmas cheer.  We received national press coverage, a fabulous result for Neston and Hip & Harmony CIC.

Hip & Harmony take to the skies with Virgin Atlantic's Little RED

That was 2013!  We have only included highlights as we publish around a thousand articles in a year. If you would like to find a particular story on AboutMyArea, see here for an explanation of how to find what you are looking for.

I would like to thank all our contributors, in particular Linda Pelling, Bernard Rose, David Sejrup, Rob Clive, Rob Ward, Trish Carter and Lisa Fields.  A special thank you to Jamie Collins for standing in for me at various times this year.

A huge thank you also to our advertisers, we could not bring everyone the news and events coverage that we do without the support of local businesses.  Please show them your support and buy local in 2014.

Here's to an AMAZing 2014!
Related content: CH64 - The Year in Pictures 2013
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Alan S
At 21:31 on 18th December 2013, Alan S commented:
Another great reminder of the wonderful community we live in. Am constantly impressed at how much positive, life-affirming stuff goes on in the area - and thank YOU, Carrie, for the tremendous job you do, keeping us all informed. Merry Christmas!
Rob Ward
At 14:05 on 19th December 2013, Rob Ward commented:
I agree with Alan S - the Neston area is a great place to live. Carrie is doing a superb job reporting what goes on in CH64, and taking part too. Lots of people are working as volunteers to make our community better, and others are running businesses to contribute to the local economy. Well done and Happy Christmas and New Year to all!
Katie Robson
At 22:25 on 19th December 2013, Katie Robson responded:
Thank you both for the kind words. It does take me a long time to collate the Review of the Year and I'm never quite sure how many people read or want to see it, so it's encouraging to get some positive feedback. Fuel to keep me motivated for the year ahead!
At 19:08 on 21st December 2013, LindaPellingPhotography commented:
Ahhh wow Carrie, what a busy year for everyone - YOU do a great job in keeping everyone informed as Alan and Charlie said. Have a great break for Christmas now xx
Looking forwards to 2014
At 09:56 on 23rd December 2013, merrymac commented:
Rest assured Carrie that many people do read AMA CH64, as they often quote it to me. Some websites have a "Visitor Counter", do you? Thank you for all the timely articles that you produce over the year, they really keep us informed. Happy Christmas to you and your family
Katie Robson
At 10:19 on 23rd December 2013, Katie Robson responded:
Ah, misunderstanding there, Merrymac, yes we do have a site meter so we know we get plenty of visitors (around 25,000 pages viewed per week, in fact). I was just referring to the Review of the Year. Thank you for your kind words and a Happy Christmas to you too!

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