Wirral Horn Award 2019

The Friends of Flaybrick are very proud to announce we have been honoured with the Wirral Horn Award 2019 by the Wirral History & Heritage Association.

Each year the Association presents the Award (a replica Wirral Horn) to an individual or group which has made an exceptional contribution towards preserving or enhancing some aspect of Wirral’s Heritage.

The presentation was made by the Association’s Chair, Paul Smith. And was accepted on behalf of the Friends of Flaybrick by our Chair, Rob Dolphin…but we all got in on the photo 🙂

Couldn’t be more proud of our Charity tonight. Well done everyone…

Freinds of Flaybrick receiving Wirral Horn Award presented by The Wirral History and Heritage Association

Remembrance Service, 11th November 2019

The Friends were grateful for the support received from the local community when we held our latest Remembrance Service on Monday 11th November. We were delighted too that the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral, Councillor and Mrs Smith, were able to join us.

Despite a couple of brief showers, the weather failed to spoil the event which was led by the vicar of Bidston Parish Church, Revd. Ron Iveson. We were particularly happy this year to welcome children from Bidston Avenue Primary School and Bidston CE Primary School and we look forward to working with the schools in the future to strengthen the bond we have now created.

As ever, yet again our growing numbers of supporters in the local community were there for the service. We opened the site from 10.00 am and also for a while after the service in order that visitors were able to see the exhibition which had been prepared with biographies and, wherever possible, photographs of people, both military and civilian, who as victims of war are either resting or commemorated in Flaybrick.

The hard work of members of The Friends of Flaybrick ensured that things went well and the site was looking at its best; the Friends are also grateful for the support provided by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cheshire Freemasons.

Knitted poppies on fence in front of chapel
Dignitaries at Remembrance ceremony
close up of knitted poppies on fence
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Remembrance Event to be Held on Monday 11th November 2019

The Friends of Flaybrick are pleased to announce that we will be holding a Remembrance Service at Flaybrick Memorial Gardens on Monday 11th November 2019. We are honoured to confirm that the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral will be in attendance.

The service will be led by the Revd. Ron Iveson from St Oswald’s Parish Church and he will be supported by the Revd. Di Watson, the Revd. Keith Addenbrooke and the Revd. Sandra Langerhuizen.

We will begin to assemble at the Cross of Sacrifice at about 10.45 am and are delighted that we will be joined by pupils and staff from Bidston Avenue Primary School and Bidston CE Parish School.

We look forward to seeing as many of our supporters who are able to join us on this important day.

Visit from our patron the Rt Hon Frank Field MP

On Saturday 21st September I was proud to take our Frank around Flaybrick on an hour-long tour. There was just so much in the way of progress to show him. First stop was his tree in the NC section, he was so pleased that he wanted a selfie with it! He was concerned about the bark damage though and he offered to pay for a tree guard.

Onto the Ed McHugh memorial and I explained that Luke Agnew had done a great job in organising and funding this new memorial. I also showed him the nearby Hamm grave with its new headstone paid for by a member of the public and a sign of the increased confidence the public are showing in Flaybrick.

He then walked the length of our woodland walk and appreciated the springy bark mulch underfoot. I told him that Ranger Niel Mutch had assisted the volunteers in making the 400 metre walk which took about 2000 man hours to create. He greatly appreciated the view and that it showed an array of church towers and domes.

Frank Field on The Flaybrick Nature Trail

On then to the CE section where we could see a huge sweep of clearance work along the Loch Ah Tam wall with brash piles all the way down. No doubt at all as to how much work we are doing. I called over everyone and he thanked them for their efforts. As we spoke, two members of the public approached and said how much they appreciated what we are doing and could they join and start work! Couldn’t have been better timed! It was now our chance to thank Frank and I presented him with a copy of the Kemp garden History book to commemorate the completion of 15 years as our patron.

A small token of thanks to Frank Field for his patronage to Friend's of Flaybrick over the past 15 years

We then made our way to the chapels to meet the open day and walks teams. He was really impressed by the clearance of the arch infills done only days before by the council contractors. He appreciated that we had had to work long and hard to achieve the clearance and overcome planning objections.

Frank stops for a photo with volunteers David, Graham, Jayne and Brian.

At the end of the visit he said he had found the morning personally very uplifting and expressed his appreciation and thanks for all that we are doing.

(the original plan for a social event to commemorate Franks 15 years as patron was not possible as Frank had to return to London that day earlier than expected and so could only spare one hour with us in the morning. This should have been made clear to the membership and I apologise for any problems this may have caused).

John Moffat

Angus Tilston MBE

It is with great sadness that we pay tribute to of one of our oldest members. Angus had been ill for 6 months before passing away in early August at the age of 86. He has been a member of the Friend’s for 20 years having joined us in July 1999.

Angus was the the founder of Swan Movie Makers, a group dedicated to many aspects of film making but also to recording the Wirral for posterity. In 2006 he said, “I would like to make a video about Flaybrick and the Friends”. Of course, we said yes. There then followed one of the best projects we have ever done as a group.

Image of  the Video Cover of The History and Future of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens
The History & Future of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens Directed by Angus Tilston.

Nearly all of the Friends were involved, either on camera, narrating, being interviewed or helping with distribution. Angus was at the helm, directing of course and always in his beige tilly hat. A measure of how good a job he did can be seen by its financial success when it went on sale at many outlets throughout the Wirral, including bookshops. I was amazed when I looked back at our accounts to find that in the first year of sales in 2007, the video made £645.79. Sales continued all the way till 2016, when by then, the total sales amounted to £1171.31. Although a percentage went back to Swann Movies the video was a major boost to the society’s income. Of course, the video also considerably raised our public profile.

Angus also produced two mood videos with images of Flaybrick dissolving into each other accompanied by especially commissioned music. Then in 2017 he filmed the chapel opening event, once again producing a lovely and priceless record of this important event. I was particularly grateful to him for this as I was hospitalised the day before and missed the big day.

In 2009 it was wonderful to see Angus awarded the MBE for services to the historic film industry.

Angus Tilston MBE

We were fortunate indeed to have had such a talented film maker as member and on behalf of all the membership we say, “Farewell our staunch and loyal friend”.

by John Moffat

75 years since D Day Commemorations

Dr Arthur Thomas Doodson

Dr Arthur Thomas Doodson now rests peacefully in Flaybrick. A pacifist at heart, he never the less played a key role in the success of this great milatary operation by producing the tide tables for the Normandy beaches.

Two days ago his daughter in law Valerie Doodson MBE spoke on national TV to explain his contribution.

Yesterday in the face of the councils failure to maintain Flaybrick strimming regime, Brian Sinton made sure that his grave was presentable for the anniversary by cutting the grass himself.

Flaybrick is indeed honoured to be the home of this great man his presence is a reminder of how important our task is to preserve it.

John Moffat

Friends of Flaybrick given the Wirral Award

In recognition of the many achievements the society has secured in the last few years we have recently been presented with Wirral Borough Council’s Civic Award.

The ceremony took place on 5th March in the splendid surroundings of the Round Room at Wallasey Town Hall and to mark their special contribution to the society’s work Brian Sinton and Rob Dolphin dined with the Mayor of Wirral before being presented with the award. Also, their names will now be recorded on the rollcall of previous winners which includes Olympic champion Chris Boardman, former Tranmere Rovers player and manager John Aldridge and country music legend Charlie Landsborough.

Brian has been a loyal member of the society for 10 years and apart from leading the onsite volunteers he has been instrumental in bringing corporate volunteers into Flaybrick. In addition, he has obtained tools and the smart fleeces and polo shirts that have given the society a real identity with the public.

Rob has been a member since 2016 and in that time he has become a trustee, a very effective walks leader, re-drafted our constitution, obtained our brown tourism signs, organised our blue plaque event and has been an active member of several small project groups formed to create this website, produce the group’s new publicity brochure and organise and deliver in November 2018 the first remembrance service held at Flaybrick in over forty years.

Rob Dolphin and Brian Stinton
Rob Dolphin and Brian Stinton

Joy Hockey Awarded the MBE

I am really pleased to pass on the society’s congratulations to Joy. This considerable honour is in recognition of over 70 years work in furthering the cause of conservation in the Wallasey area. She was instrumental in setting up one of the first conservation areas on the Wirral in Wallasey. Apart from her local work she has sat on Wirral wide conservation committees attending countless meetings where she always sought to encourage all those involved in the cause of preserving the Wirral.

Part of that work was fighting for the cause of Flaybrick. As far back as the 1980’s she took photographs that were to prove invaluable in planning the conservation of the chapel fabric. She joined our society in the mid 90’s and has been a trustee since 2004.

The 90’s were a very difficult time for me as there were few people willing to help the cause then and I always appreciated the great deal of encouragement she gave me. In more recent years she still attends our meetings even though she is in her 90’s and has long standing eyesight problems.

I have always been impressed by her fortitude. Despite her eyesight problems, which affect her reading vision, she continues to read all the many sets of minutes that she receives from the organisations she supports.

In 2005 we were under siege from vandals and needed to pay ÂŁ145 a weekend for security. I think she paid for two weekends and she continues to give us very generous financial support to this day.

I am sure you will all wish her well for her trip to the palace at the end of January, when she will become the third person from our society to be awarded the MBE alongside Valerie Doodson and Angus Tilston.

You can read the Wirral Globe article about Joy’s award here.

By John Moffat

Remembrance Day

On Sunday 11th November the Friends of Flaybrick organised the first service to be held at the site for more than forty years. The service was held to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War and was conducted by the vicar of St James’s Church, Revd. Keith Addenbrooke.

A lot of hard work and planning went into the event and we were blessed on the morning by the arrival of the sun shortly before the service began. This after several of our members worked in gentle rainfall from around 8.15 am!!

Despite there being so many other similar services around the Borough on the day, we were joined by somewhere in the region of 250 people who helped us commemorate the anniversary. The exhibition which followed enabled more than 100 other visitors to join us after they had attended services elsewhere.

The Chair of the Friends of Flaybrick, Val Doodson, unveiled a memorial marking the centenary and wreaths were laid on behalf of the Friends, Wirral Council and 2nd Beechwood Scouts and Cubs who joined us on the day.

Thanks for help in ensuring the event was a success go of course to Revd. Addenbrooke and also to E.F Mackie, monumental mason, for the construction of the memorial and Richprint, Wallasey, for their work in the printing of the order of service booklet. Our excellent sound system was provided by Steve from Tam O Shanter Urban Farm and as ever the Friends and Volunteers of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens worked so hard to ensure that the day went well.

A final thank you goes of course to the people of Wirral who yet again turned out in large numbers to support all that we do.

By Rob Dolphin

Blue Plaque Unveiled by Mayor at Memorial Gardens

Wirral’s latest blue plaque has been unveiled at Flaybrick Memorial Gardens in Birkenhead by the Mayor, Councillor Geoffrey Watt.

The plaque is in memory of the architects – Charles Lucy and Charles Littler – who designed the chapels inside the Memorial Gardens.

The ceremony also involved Peter Bolt of Conservation Areas Wirral (CAW). A number of the Friends of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens were also present, along with members of the public.

Unveiling the plaque, Councillor Watt said:

“Thank you to the Friends of Flaybrick and to Conservation Areas Wirral for inviting me and the Mayoress to the Memorial Gardens for this ceremony. As Mayor of Wirral, I have the honour of unveiling this blue plaque here in Flaybrick, erected to celebrate the lives of the architects Charles Lucy, 1832 to 1871, and Charles Littler, 1832 to 1868.”

Peter Bolt of CAW said:

“Over the past three years, CAW has partnered Wirral Council to put in place a rolling programme of blue plaques, supported by the Wirral Heritage Fund. Altogether, including those in the pipeline, there will be about 13 blue plaques across Wirral and we are hoping to create a blue plaque trail that people can follow.”

The event coincided with Wirral Heritage Open Days 2018, Wirral’s biggest heritage event which, every year, aims to give visitors and residents alike the chance to enjoy a rich variety of architecture, landscape and history.

The Friends of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens run guided walks around the gardens throughout the year. You can visit their Facebook page – facebook.com/friendsofflaybrick – and their website – flaybrick.org – for more information.

A group of volunteers also carry out work such as clearing shrubbery and overgrown areas and litter picks on the gardens on Thursdays and Saturday mornings from 10am until 12noon. Volunteers meet in the cafe at Tam O’Shanter’s Urban Farm from 9:30am. Do go along if you have some spare time and would like to get involved, or contact the group first if you have any questions.

By Rob Dolphin

Unvieling of the Blue Plaque at Flaybrick Chapel

Mayor of Wirral Councillor Geoffrey Watt with volunteers from the Friends of Flaybrick Memorial Gardens