Worden Park Patchers in search of a new home

Irene Wignall with members of Worden Park Patchers who are looking for a new home
Irene Wignall with members of Worden Park Patchers who are looking for a new home

A dedicated group of ladies has vowed to continue providing events for the community, even though their main funding body has fallen through.

Last week, the Guardian reported how the South Ribble Arts Forum, based at Worden Arts and Crafts Centre in Worden Park, was forced to end because of funding cuts.

Now, a small branch of the organisation, the Worden Park Patchers, are searching for a new home so they can carry on meeting and arranging events for children.

Chairman of the group, Irene Wignall, said: “Our group falls under the South Ribble Arts Forum ‘umbrella’, and even though that has finished now, we are really keen to carry on.

“We have put a good deal back into the community, and want to continue that.

“We have entertained up to 500 children at our Christmas on the Park party for the past three years, run a summer school for local adults, participated in the Teddy Bear’s Picnic in Worden Park for hundreds of kids, and have also taken our craft skills into local schools.”

The group was set up in 2008, and 20 members now meet on a weekly basis to make patchwork, embroidery, and other craft items.

South Ribble Council, which owns the Arts Centre at Worden Park, has allowed the Arts Forum to use the studio rent-free for the past few years, but the organisation’s lease runs out on August 13, so the Patchers won’t be able to meet there any more.

Irene said: “We each contribute a small members’ fee which pays for materials, but we don’t have mega bucks, which is why we’re hoping to find somewhere to go free of charge, or at a low cost.

“People don’t have a lot of money these days unfortunately, but we think we can get by.”

She added: “It’s very important for us to continue because some of our members are in their 80s, and it helps keep them busy and active.

“It’s a good social event, and most of the ladies are from Leyland, so we’re keen to stay in the area.

“If the council asks us to carry on holding activities at Worden Park for the children, we’re always happy to do that, even if we’re not actually based there anymore.”

The South Ribble Arts Forum relied on grant funding from various sources since it was set up in 2004, including from the council.

But with drastic funding cuts across the board over recent years, the forum has struggled to pay for things such as art classes.

It also organised Leyland’s popular Chinese New Year celebrations and Participate summer clubs, so they will no longer go ahead.

Irene, who was the vice-chairman of the forum as well as chairman of the Patchers group, said: “All good things have to come to an end.

“We have really enjoyed our time at Worden Park, and are grateful to South Ribble Council for allowing us to use the facility.

“The environment has been fantastic.

“It’s a sign of the times that the main group has ended, but hopefully we can find somewhere new for the Patchers to meet, and allow that arm of the forum to continue.”

The group will hold its last session at Worden Arts and Crafts Centre this Friday, and plan to have a little party to mark the occasion.

Irene hopes to find a base by September and start meeting up again then.

If you can help, contact her at irene@wignall.org.uk.