The Friends of Lilford Park (FOLP) asked Healthy Arts to submit an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund for an event to commemorate the centenary of the park’s opening in June 1915. A successful grant of 16,000 was awarded. The project used drama, visual arts and historical research to explore the history of the park resulting in celebratory performances on 6th & 7th June 2015. Alongside this, new heritage interpretation panels were created for the park featuring displays of artwork created by Primary school children with the help of a professional artist, and a new guided walk and audio recordings of memories of the park were created. Participants included 6 local Primary Schools, 1 local High School, Creative Leigh’s Dance Company, St Joseph’s Players and 4 professional actors. 113 children took part in the parade and performances with 55 children being key performers on the day. Audience figures at the event exceeded our expectations with closer to 3,000 than the anticipated 1,000.
‘The centenary has absolutely skyrocketed interest in the park and generated significant interest from volunteers, funders and local business.’ Lee McStein, Vice-Chair, Friends of Lilford Park
‘I’ve just got in and couldn’t wait to thank you all for making today the huge success that it has been. Everyone I have spoken to from the Mayor of Wigan down to the causal visitor has complimented us on today’s achievements and commented on the excellent organisation. Please accept our sincere gratitude for your interest, generosity, hard work and enthusiasm.’ David Sykes, Friends of Lilford Park
‘It was a privilege to be involved. Our staff and students thoroughly enjoyed the range of activities and our drama and dance students were proud to be involved in the presentations fortheir community celebrations.’ Venessa Shakespeare, Bedford High School
‘Great event for the town and great to be involved. So much was in the content that I would have never been aware of. Would be great to do something similar again. Greater knowledge of local history and a feeling of community spirit.’ Anonymous Performer
‘Superb play – well written, well produced, enjoyable.’ Avis Freeman
‘Had a great afternoon at the centenary today. Was a really good atmosphere, and all the people involved in making today happen, deserve some massive pats on the back! Well done! Cant wait for the 101st birthday celebrations next year.’ Anonymous Audience Member
‘Having lived in the area, I learned a tremendous amount and will look at things now from a much more informed perspective.’ Peter Ramin
‘HUGE Congratulations and pats on back to ALL those involved in this weekend’s activities ..beautifully heart warming to see the park filled with fun and stalls and the Heritage Marquee AND the Sun came out too!’ Anonymous Audience Member
‘What a fantastic weekend at the park. But these things don’t just happen, it’s hard work for lots of people for months and months preparing and on the days themselves. So it’s a big thank you to you all, and it was great to see so many people enjoying the park and the event.’ Anonymous Audience Member
The legacy of the audio material, heritage interpretation panels and guided walks will be available for a long time to come beyond the completion of this centenary celebration.