The King’s Award for Voluntary Service

The Friends of Flaybrick are proud to confirm that it was formally announced this morning in the Gazette UK that we have been given the King’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS); within the voluntary sector, this is an honour which is equivalent to an MBE and the highest award given to voluntary groups in the UK.

Our charity was established in 1993 by John Moffat, who today works as secretary of the group, with the intent of bringing Flaybrick back into the community and members and volunteers have worked hard since then to achieve that aim despite occasional setbacks which only make us more determined to succeed.

Our Chair, Rob Dolphin stated earlier ‘We are such a wonderful hard working group with a range of skills and abilities which suit the tasks we undertake and it is my great joy and honour to accept the award on behalf of our charity. This gives true recognition to all members and volunteers, both past and present.’

We would like in particular to express our thanks to Lord Field of Birkenhead who kindly sponsored the award bid, and also Councillor George Davies, former Mayor of Wirral and Elizabeth Davey, the prominent local historian, for their wonderful letters of endorsement.

The group would also like to take the opportunity to express our thanks as ever to the people of Wirral and beyond who support us in all weathers and attend our guided walks, Services of Remembrance and open days in great numbers.


14th November 2023

Service of Remembrance Saturday 11th November 2023

We are currently finalising preparations for our annual Service of Remembrance which this year will take place on Saturday 11th November. Visitors are requested to begin assembly at Flaybrick from around 10.40 am.

We are proud to announce this year that we will be joined by the Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dr Nicolas Jedynakiewicz, who will lay a wreath on behalf of His Majesty The King; the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral, Councillor and Mrs Jerry Williams and Birkenhead MP Mick Whitley will also be in attendance and will lay wreaths. Joining us too this year will be cadets and officers from 400 (Birkenhead) RAF Air Cadet Squadron.

The service will be led by Rev Keith Addenbrooke from St James’s Church, Father Michael Coughlan from Our Lady’s Church and Rev Joe Smith from St Oswald’s Church, Bidston. As is now the normal practice in our services, children from local schools will assist with readings.

We hope as ever that as many as our friends and supporters will be able to join us for this most important date in the calendar of The Friends of Flaybrick. After the laying of official wreaths, others will be welcome to lay their own tribute at The Cross of Sacrifice.

The former Roman Catholic chapel at Flaybrick.

On Saturday 19th November, Flaybrick Memorial Gardens saw another visit from Father Michael Coughlan who this time brought along members of his congregation from the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception in Price Street.

When Father Michael first met us in July, we showed him the site of the former Roman Catholic chapel which is now marked only by a small wall constructed out of reclaimed stone from the building after its demolition in 1971. When this wall was built, a Yorkstone slab was included which had an inscription stating:

Site of the
Roman Catholic Chapel
1864 – 1971
“Here was a house of God
And a gate to Heaven
Blessed is he
Who dies
In the name
Of the Lord”

Over time, the slab had been vandalised and the lettering had become so weathered that it was totally illegible so as part of our work within the section, we commissioned a replacement Yorkstone memorial with the exact wording reproduced. It has been there since late 2021 but we felt that the work wasn’t completed without some form of blessing carried out by the parish priest.

On a mild November morning, we made our way to the site and witnessed a reading from a parishioner, and a short service of blessing conducted by Father Michael after which the 30/40 people who attended stood and chatted for a while before a short thankyou speech from a member of the Friends of Flaybrick brought the event to a conclusion.

The thanks of the Friends of Flaybrick go of course to Father Michael and his parishioners for joining us for this special event; we look forward to continuing to strengthen our new links with them.

The blessing of the commemoration site of former Roman Catholic Chapel, Flaybrick Memorial Gardens

Remembrance Service 2022

Our Service of Remembrance this year will take place at the Cross of Sacrifice at Flaybrick Memorial Gardens on Friday 11th November, and we are pleased to confirm that we will be joined on the morning by the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral and Birkenhead PM Mick Whitley

Children from local schools will be taking part in the service which will be led by local clergy from St Oswald’s, St James’s and Our Lady’s churches.

The Friends of Flaybrick invite you to join us for what is now our main event of the year to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Assembly will begin at the Flaybrick chapels from around 10.45 am and the service is expected to be completed by 11.30 am.

Flaybrick from the air

Flaybrick Chapel Aerial
Flaybrick Chapel Aerial
Flaybrick Chapel Aerial
Flaybrick Chapel Aerial
Flaybrick Chapel Aerial
Flaybrick Chapel Aerial
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We are fortunate that one of our members is a professional drone photographer and he is kind enough to allow us use of a set of drone photographs he recently took of our beautiful chapels.

Such a remarkable set of pictures, subject to copyright and not for downloading or other form of reproduction, are included in this article for viewing only.

A busy winter season 2021/2022 draws to a close

As we move into spring 2022, it’s worth looking back a couple of months to reflect on what’s been going on at Flaybrick throughout the winter.

A very successful Remembrance Service led by Rev Joe Smith from St Oswald’s was again held on 11th November but shortly afterwards Flaybrick, like so many other areas, was hit by severe storms. Sadly we lost eight of our trees, some around 150 years old and here since the site was laid out by Edward Kemp. Clearance and repair work is still ongoing and will likely continue for several more months; visitors on our forthcoming guided walks will see much evidence of damage caused.

On a brighter note, the volunteer group under the guidance of the Council’s ranger have worked hard to create a memorial garden in the long abandoned RC 7 section. The transformation so far is significant and we are looking forward to the finished job when wild flowers, shrubs and small trees are planted; a small pond is being created too and the overall aim is to attract local wildlife and for them to see it as their new ‘home’.

Volunteers have been busy in many other ways of course; even though we are only just into April, several private walks have already been completed and presentations to groups are also going ahead with three completed and eight more booked for the first half of the year.

Our group’s AGM will take place at the Tam O’Shanter’s Urban Farm at 10.00 am on 23rd April and all members are welcome to come along and hear the Chair talk through his annual report and outline plans for the rest of 2022.

Remembrance Service; Thursday 11th November 2021.

Our Remembrance Service this year will take place at the Flaybrick Memorial Gardens Cross of Sacrifice on 11th November. We are proud to announce that the service, led by the vicar of St Oswald’s Church, Bidston, Revd. Joe Smith, will be attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Wirral. Birkenhead MP, Mick Whitley, will also be represented.

Pupils and staff from Bidston CE School and Bidston Avenue Primary School will be with us too and we will begin to assemble at Flaybrick from around 10.45.

The site has been fully risk assessed in accordance with current regulations and guidelines and we hope that our friends and supporters will be able to join us on this important day.

Valerie Gane MBE (Val Doodson)

Valerie Gane MBE (Val Doodson)

It was with great sadness that The Friends of Flaybrick heard of the death on 7th September after a short illness of Val, a trustee and former chairperson of our charity. Val was a member of the Friends for some twenty years and her contribution to the work we do will be greatly missed. She assumed the role of chairperson in 2007 and continued in that position until 2019 when she took the decision to step down; she did however continue to work hard on our behalf and remained a member of our executive group, attending meetings until just a few months ago.

Val was the daughter-in-law of the renowned oceanographer, Arthur Doodson (known as ‘A.T.’ to those who knew him) and indeed she worked at the Tidal Institute at Bidston Observatory herself for some 43 years as a higher scientific officer. It was in the Queen’s Birthday Honours of 1996 that her service was acknowledged when she was awarded an MBE for her services to science.

An unrelated enquiry to the Observatory by our group’s founder and secretary, John Moffatt, led to Val’s connection with Flaybrick becoming first known to us when she mentioned to him that she had links with the site, it being the resting place of her father-in-law.

She became more involved, assisting in research and not surprisingly providing us with a wealth of information regarding Arthur Doodson’s extraordinary life and achievements.

Several members of our group attended the service of remembrance held for Val on 22nd September at West Kirby Methodist Church and on behalf of our trustees, executive committee and indeed all members of the Friends of Flaybrick the sincere condolences of the group go, at this difficult time, to Val’s husband David and her extended family.

Rob Dolphin, Chair and Trustee, The Friends of Flaybrick.

Remembrance Service 2021

We sincerely hope after last year’s short ceremony that we will be able to return this year to our now regular Remembrance Service which is scheduled for Thursday 11th November 2021.

Preparations are already under way and subject to no new restrictions being imposed, the service will be led by the new minister at St Oswald’s Parish Church, Bidston, the Rev Joe Smith. The Mayor of Wirral has been invited and again we are talking to local schools and inviting staff and pupils to join us in order that we can all stop briefly and take time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

As things progress, we will keep all our friends and supporters up to date via this website and our social media platforms. Our last full service in 2019 was attended by more than 400 people and it would be wonderful if we could look towards that sort of number again particularly as much of the work we have been able to undertake with Wirral Council this year will mean that the event can be much more inclusive now that the railings have been realigned and the area around the Cross of Sacrifice made safer.