Toasting park success with a real ale festival

RENAISSANCE: Pat Ryan, Chairperson of Friends of Cuerden Valley Park with John Stainton, Chairman of Cuerden Valley Park Trust with fellow friends and workers in the Walled Orchard, Cuerden Valley Park, Bamber Bridge

RENAISSANCE: Pat Ryan, Chairperson of Friends of Cuerden Valley Park with John Stainton, Chairman of Cuerden Valley Park Trust with fellow friends and workers in the Walled Orchard, Cuerden Valley Park, Bamber Bridge

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People who battled to save a threatened country park in South Ribble are getting ready to toast its renaissance with some tasty pints of ale.

Historic Cuerden Valley Park in Bamber Bridge was facing possible closure within five years over a funding black hole which dates back two decades.

The running of the park was transferred to the independent charity Cuerden Valley Park Trust by the Government in 1992, with a £1m endowment to maintain the park.

The cash, however, was not enough to cover running and maintenance costs which left the park racking up heavy losses and facing a bleak future.

But the Friends of Cuerden Valley group has worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to turn the park’s fortunes around.

When Pat Ryan became chairman of the group, the Trust was running at a £120,000 a year loss but it is now down to £30,000 and could soon break even.

Pat, 62, a grandad-of-two, said: “Financially we are nowhere near the state we were in 18 months ago.

“When I started it was £120,000 a year and now it is £30,000.

“People feel passionate about the park and the Friends of the park’s membership has tripled in 18 months.

“We had 40 members and now there is 140.

“There are a lot of people committed to making sure that the park stays for the benefit of everybody.”

The group is now set to hold its first Cuerden Valley Beer Festival, from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8. The event will include 40 real ales and ciders, live music and hot food, to raise cash for the park.

He said: “There is a beer festival and two weeks after that there is the May Fair.

“All this in 28 days, we have really big events and we are hoping to be able to catch up on the funds deficit.

“We have done our utmost to make it as good as we can.

“Our sponsors have helped us immensely which means we can sell beer at £2.50 and soft drinks are 50p.

“We have got fantastic food and really good live music, it should be an excellent event.”

For information log on to cuerdenvalleypark.org.uk.