Bring a picnic and celebrate the opening of St Catherine’s Park this weekend
St Catherine’s Hospice is getting ready to open up its beautiful grounds to members of the public, as the first park to be developed in South Ribble for more than 40 years is formally opened.
The Lostock Hall charity will welcome the community into its gardens this Sunday, 12th June, for a brand new Picnic in the Park event, celebrating the opening of St Catherine’s Park and honouring HM The Queen’s 90th birthday along with other nationwide tributes on that day.
Live bands and musicians, ice cream trucks, a talented magician and a barbecue provided by the charity’s own catering firm, The Mill Outside, will all provide a special occasion, and members of the community are warmly invited to bring a picnic and enjoy the gardens from 1pm until 5pm.
With large crowds expected there is no parking on site for the event. A free Park and Ride service has been arranged from the large Leyland Trucks car park on Croston Road, which will run throughout the afternoon.
St Catherine’s has worked with South Ribble Borough Council and local Rotary Clubs to connect the hospice’s grounds to neighbouring land known as Dandy Brook. The extended St Catherine’s parkland – incorporating a nature trail, woodland, new gates, bridges over the River Lostock, signage and accessible pathways – will lead from the hospice’s stone built café, The Mill, to the striking new World War One memorial.
Stephen Greenhalgh, Chief Executive of St Catherine’s Hospice, said: “St Catherine’s Hospice brings people from all walks of life together to help loved ones live with serious illnesses. Over the last 31 years, local people have made St Catherine’s a symbol of unity and hope.
“This pioneering project opens up our grounds through Dandy Brook down to the magnificent new First World War Centenary Memorial. We are most grateful to the council for helping turn our vision into reality.
“St Catherine’s Park is part of the charity’s vision to change commonly held perceptions about living with life-shortening illnesses. Unfortunately many people who haven’t been to a hospice are frightened of them. So, we want St Catherine’s to become a much more familiar place; one that people want to come to, feel ‘at home’ in and can do so whenever they wish.
“We want people to feel a sense of goodness, reassurance and pride here because this is a special place where we care for our loved ones and remember them with heartfelt affection.”
He added: “Of course we must protect the dignity of families, but we know that whilst patients value privacy that is quite different to isolation. We are told time and again how much patients enjoy seeing people in the grounds and when they can, going into the parkland themselves.
“Visitors regularly take loved ones in wheelchairs around the gardens and across to The Mill café. Many come back to St Catherine’s as an act of remembrance, often on the anniversary of a loved one’s death. St Catherine’s Park literally puts a gate in our walled gardens that says ‘welcome to all’.”
Stephen encouraged people to come along and discover the new park for themselves for Picnic in the Park, and to enjoy entertainment in the old Dandy Brook area from jazz and show tunes performer Catherine Sullivan, acoustic pop singer and guitarist Connor Banks, the Mercy People choir, and soul, rock and blues band The Yard Dogs.
Zanda Magic will be out in the audience performing close-up magic tricks, and families are invited to bring a picnic and explore the new park throughout the afternoon.
Councillor Margaret Smith, Leader of South Ribble Borough Council, said: “It’s fantastic that we have been able to work with St Catherine’s Hospice to create this new park – the first in the borough for more than four decades.
“The hospice provides first class care to our residents and is a wonderful facility which are very lucky to have right on our doorstep.
“It’s great that they have now opened up their beautiful grounds to the public – helping us piece together the first of our Central Parks which will create a lasting legacy for future generations to come by protecting our green, open space from future development.
“The new park boasts a truly unique Inglis bridge and links to the much-loved new war memorial – it is a fantastic step forward as part of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal and one I hope our residents will enjoy for many years to come.”
During the event, there will also be a chance for visitors to tie a yellow ribbon in the grounds of St Catherine’s in memory of a loved one, in preparation for the charity’s annual Yellow Day Garden Fete the following Sunday, 19th June, featuring crafts and gift stalls, garden games, a bouncy castle, inflatable slide, treasure hunt, tombola, performances from Irish dancers and a pipe band, live music, scientific fun stations, and a special visit from Disney princesses Elsa and Anna.
There is no parking on site for Picnic in the Park or Yellow Day the following week; on both occasions, a free Park and Ride shuttle bus service will operate from Leyland Trucks on Croston Road.
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