Darwen’s Friends of Sunnyhurst Woods folds after 15 years
DARWEN’S Friends of Sunnyhurst Woods has folded after 15 years – but local councillors hope a new version will spring up.
The decision to close the group was made by the existing members at a meeting last week, following the lengthy illness of long-standing founding chairman Dennis Gillibrand, aged 81.
The meeting was chaired by David Pack who had stood in as interim leader of the group, founded in January 2001.
Now councillors in Earcroft and Sunnyhurst are to set up a new group to carry on the work of the Friends of Sunnyhurst Woods.
They will hold an inaugural meeting to recruit members for a replacement organisation at the Olde England Kiosk in the woods at 7pm on Tuesday, June 23.
Darwen town council deputy leader and Sunnyhurst councillor Pete Hollings will chair the session.
He said: “I’ve got to pay great tribute to the tireless work of the former group in maintaining this fantastic leisure facility for the people of Darwen and visitors to enjoy, and in particular the dedication of Dennis.
“The contribution of friends groups all over Darwen cannot be understated.
“With my colleagues on Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council we need to look to the future to ensure the friends work is a lasting legacy to be built upon, so future generations can enjoy one of Darwen’s gems. The Friends group has been funded by public subscription, fund raising and through annual grants brought in by Darwen Town council when the Labour Group took control in 2012.
“We need to build on the successes in our area and believe there are enough people who love the woods and will wish to help out.
“We hope to quickly establish the group with a constitution, so we can hand over the reins to local residents.”
Earcroft councillor Stephanie Brookfield said: “This is a fabulous group which has done so much for the woods.
“We will get a replacement going to continue the work of Dennis and the Friends.
The group formed in 2001 because local residents felt the woods were falling into disrepair.
Members undertook many restoration projects, including the paddling pool, its paths and drains and the drinking fountain.
Sunnyhurst Woods covers 85 acres, and is popular for family walks and picnics. The Old Keeper’s Cottage now serves as a visitor centre and art gallery, where visitors can enjoy refreshments while picking up information on the history of this area of outstanding beauty.
Source: Lancashire Telegraph