Chairman of the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership Tony Ford has been recognised for his ‘Outstanding Contribution’ to Britain in Bloom North West throughout 2021.
In a demonstration of just how green-fingered Fylde is, the borough landed 22 honours in the annual contest, with Ansdell in Bloom, Lytham in Bloom, Elswick and Lytham Hall Kitchen Garden winning gold medals as overall winners in their respective categories.
Tony won the ‘2021 Award for Outstanding Contribution to Britain in Bloom NW’ for his involvement and enthusiasm in supporting volunteers at stations along the South Fylde Line.
Tony says: “I was delighted to win the award. I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, and it’s lovely to be given such an unexpected pat on the back. My understanding is that I was marked out as someone who is happy to share skills, resources, ideas and equipment for the good of all the stations along the South Fylde Line.”
“In truth, I am only able to share ideas and resources if there is someone to share them with! So a big thank you must go to all the committed volunteers and organisations that work hard to keep these stations looking their best.”
Voluntary projects and activities have not only kept South Fylde stations in good shape over the past year, they have also provided opportunities for people to work together and engage with their local community, even through challenging conditions.
December 2020 saw one of Tony’s ideas come to life very successfully; Christmas trees were created from scrap pallets to decorate the stations, and businesses, friends and families joined in to shape the trees and add decorations while taking all relevant COVID-19 precautions.
Tony says: “It was a successful community engagement activity under difficult circumstances. Station adopters kept in touch with each other with meetings over the garden wall, on doorsteps and via social media and through phone calls, messages and even postcards.
“It provided an opportunity for stations’ friends to continue with their activities, it gave positive messages about the railway and the station, and created a much needed ‘feel-good’ factor during a difficult period. The trees at St Anne’s Station generated much discussion and the idea was adopted by other stations.”
The Christmas tree project went on to be shortlisted for the ‘Small Projects under £500’ award at the National Community Rail Awards and the trees were revamped and redecorated for 2021.
Other In Bloom projects Tony has been involved in over the last couple of years include; helping to create an allotment plot (including securing funding, and sourcing and building a polytunnel and greenhouse) to support St Anne’s In Bloom activities, creating a transportable water bowser for use on the many planters around town, and encouraging and supporting other groups to take part in the ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ award scheme, including Squires Gate Station.
Gavin Harrison, Chair of St Anne’s Town Council, congratulated Tony on the accolade: “This award is thoroughly well deserved, Tony goes above and beyond for the community and his hard work at St Anne’s station and others along the South Fylde Line is clear for all to see. Congratulations to Tony, and well done to all the many volunteers that keep the borough blooming.”