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Wrapping Up 2020 in Neston

Author: Carrie Spacey Published: 23rd December 2020 07:45
Neston News newsletter header by Dave Mort

 It's been quite a year, to put it mildly.  2020 is a year most of us will happily see draw to a close.

(The image above is one of our favourite Neston News header shots from this year. It's by Dave Mort, taken at Denhall Lane and serves to remind us how lucky we are to have such beautiful countryside around us.) 

Normally at this time we would be publishing AboutMyArea's Review of the Year (see Best of Neston here). However, having taken a look back through the News Archive, it has quickly became apparent that too many of this year's articles have had to, by necessity, been about public information notices, cancellation of events, and current information that would not stand the test of time.

There have been some remarkable efforts and moments, however, so this year we will focus in on just a handful of those.

Firstly, the community response to the pandemic.  Simply amazing. Spearheaded by Neston Community Youth Centre's Gareth and Zaria; hundreds and hundreds of people were able to access essential deliveries of food and prescriptions, as well as much-needed companion phone calls and other outreach measures.  

NCYCCllr Louise Gittins and Gareth Prytherch, Centre Manager, with volunteers at NCYC, the hub of the community response in Neston.

Neston Rotary Club went all out to assist with the delivery of prescriptions - well over a thousand at the last count.

Lindsey Pugh at The Malt Shovel helped families out with packed lunches and, more recently, with Christmas gifts.  Elephant Collective handed out free pizzas to key workers during lockdown and launched an Open Kitchens project with NCYC to help feed people in need of a hot meal.

Elephant Collective - Open Kitchens projectOpen Kitchen - Elephant Collective has been distributing meals with the help of NCYC.

Hip & Harmony CIC and Little Actors Theatre were amongst those organisations that took their classes online, to ensure local people would not miss out on their much-loved arts activities.

Staff and pupils at local schools spread their messages of hope and, in the case of Neston High, even made PPE items for distribution to local NHS workers and care homes.  Some schools took on the London Marathon Challenge and Mr G at Neston Primary sent a handwritten letter to every single pupil during the first lockdown.

St Winefride'sThe sign says it all - pupils and staff at St Winefride's have been keeping their spirits up, and those of the surrounding community, during the year.

Businesses thought on their feet and quickly adapted to a delivery and collection mode of operation, despite many chopping and changing rules throughout the year. Elephant Collective launched a 'pay it forward' fund, with local people encouraged to pay for coffees for NHS workers.  The Blue Bicycle's Sophie McDonough ran to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society.  Two local farms - Old Oaks Farm and Willaston Community Farm - rapidly adapted to supply local residents with essential fruit and veg along with other goods.

Neston High SchoolNeston High School students said a big Thank You to NHS workers.

Neston Players delivered flowers and other gifts to people in the community that they felt deserved a special thank you for their efforts during the pandemic.

Neston Players - Community Thanks projectCheryl Barker from Neston Players came up with the idea for a Community Thanks project.

Many of you undertook your own fundraisers, whether baking cakes or running around gardens, all efforts made were heartwarming.

Despite the doom and gloom of the pandemic, so much fun was had.  From Lockdown Bingo in Mallard Mews (Drake Road), to the Neston and Little Neston Bear Hunt, you really pulled out the stops.  

Lockdown bingo in Mallard MewsNeil and Nicky Town organised a game of street Bingo in Drake Road.

We clapped on our doorsteps for the NHS and even local roundabouts were painted to convey our thanks.

VE Day in May was celebrated by many, with socially-distanced street and garden parties. 

Derek Herbert, aka Winston ChurchillLittle Neston's Derek Herbert, a Winston Churchill lookalike, gave the salute for VE Day. Photo by Peter Byrne, North West PA.

Neston's beloved Ladies Club Day could not be celebrated in the usual way, but we ran a photographic retrospective on AboutMyArea and volunteers from NCYC and Hip & Harmony worked with the Female Society to deliver afternoon teas to all its members.

Ladies Day afternoon teas, delivered in styleThe Mayor of Neston, Cllr Christine Warner, was amongst those delivering afternoon teas to Neston Female Society members on what should have been Ladies Club Day in June.

There was a virtual ParkgateFest, too - the festival itself having been postponed, local musicians put on performances that were broadcast on social media, bringing a little sunshine amongst the clouds.

Two local parks were given make-overs - Woodfall Lane in Little Neston and Willaston's Johnstone Recreation Ground, giving children new play opportunities as restrictions were eased.

Woodfall ParkWoodfall Park's revamp was completed.

As things began to open up again, once more businesses adapted, installing all the necessary equipment and processes to keep customers safe.  

Sports returned, with Neston Nomads quickly hitting their stride and Neston Cricket Club being crowned Cheshire Premier League Champions in September.

Halloween was celebrated more widely than usual, as people expressed their creativity with wonderful pumpkin displays and other decorations.

Burton & Puddington Pumpkin FestivalKlopp, as you've never seen him before! One of the many brilliant displays at Burton & Puddington's Pumpkin Festival. Photo by Simon Joseph Photography.

There were some sad losses to the community during the year, including Cllr Andy Williams who had represented Neston for many years at local council level and was the Hon Secretary of Neston Female Society.  Others included two retired local doctors - Dr Ian Morrison and Dr Richard Willcox, who were both remembered fondly by many of their former patients.  Our condolences to everyone who lost someone this year.

As Christmas approached,  the community swung into gear once more, led by Hip & Harmony CIC and funded by Neston Town Council, the Christmas in Neston programme offered some much-needed festive joy and encouraged everyone to participate. A highly unusual town centre lights switch-on was very well received.

Neston Christmas Lights switch-on 2020Paula Prytherch from Hip & Harmony CIC did the honours for this year's Christmas lights switch-on, in a half hour programme of entertainment streamed online.

Windows were decorated by residents and businesses and hundreds of people entered the 12 Days of Christmas competitions.

Neston Pet Supplies - a Christmas windowNeston Pet Supplies was one of many local businesses that really pulled out the stops with their window displays for Christmas this year.

Throughout the year Cheshire West and Chester Council have been amazing. Their support for residents and businesses, and their strong communication stream, has been quite remarkable. 

Wrapping up

2020 is my last year as Editor of AboutMyArea and Neston Life.  It's been an absolute privilege to deliver your local news service since 2008, very much a labour of love.  If I was to thank everyone that has helped me along the way I would be here until next Christmas! However, I would like to single out a few, if I may.

Firstly to some of the community heroes who have done so much for the area and given me plenty to write about - Louise Gittins, Martin Barker, Andy Williams, Justin Madders, Paula and Gareth Prytherch, Neston's various town councillors and staff, Zaria Shrief, Eileen Miller, Samantha Giblin, Rob Ward, Alan Dawson, Rob Halsall, Rob Golding and so many more.

I'm particularly grateful to local photographers who have helped me out over the years; Linda Pelling, who would often lie in the middle of the road on Ladies Day to get the ‘money shot'; Bernard Rose, whose masterful photography has shone out from our pages these past 12½  years; Rob Clive with his quirky view of the world; David Sejrup, for his wonderful video compilations and photos; Roy Wilson with his fabulous wildlife photography and Steve Ebbrell, who has such a gift for candid ‘portrait' shots on special occasions.

My very grateful thanks also to all the local businesses who have supported the website and app and will no doubt continue to, long into the future.  It's been a genuine pleasure to promote you and your efforts.

At the risk of this sounding like an Oscars' acceptance speech, I'd also like to thank my family, whose unstinting support has been integral to this endeavour all along.

And finally...a huge thank you to you, the readers - for your contributions, your photos, your humour, your complaints, everything! Neston is an extraordinary place to live with wonderful community spirit and that's down to you.

Now I hand you over to your new Editor, Katie Robson. I have every confidence that Katie is exactly the right person to carry on the AboutMyArea and Neston Life service and that she will grow and nurture it well into the future.  She has my full support. Katie can be contacted on neston@aboutmyarea.co.uk.

Christmas 2020Christmas in Neston town centre, 2020.  Photo by David Sejrup

It only remains for me to wish you all a lovely Christmas and, hopefully, a sociable, healthy and hugely improved 2021. See you all at Neston Village Fair or ParkgateFest - I'll be in the beer tent and my camera will be at home!

For more of 2020 see:

Local News

Neston News Archive 

Your Photos

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At 08:17 on 23rd December 2020, Annie57 commented:
Just want to say a big thank you for your contribution to our community. Best wishes to you not only for Christmas & New Year, but for the future.

You need to log in before you can do that! It's only a quick registration process to join the AMA network and completely free.

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