27 NCYC Christmas Party 16th December 2016

Zaria Shreef, Community Activities Co-ordinator at the Community Centre, organised this event for the many volunteers who help with the projects she runs –  Neston Angels, Neston Flicks, the Big Lunch, NCYC’s Garden Project to name but a few.

The food, prepared of course by Zaria with volunteer help, was excellent.  It’s a long time since I tasted scouse of this quality, Zaria’s tiramisu was excellent and “Swampy’s” home-made wines  went down a treat.

It was good to have been invited to meet these volunteers.  I did feel quite at home: being town mayor involves at least 10 hours a week of voluntary activity!

26 Neston Flower Society Christmas Demonstration 15th December 2016

This was a solo event for Sue as Town Mayor’s Consort (Mayoress would be easier but possibly not constitutional). The Flower Society must have known that I can’t tell a dandelion from a rose, let alone know how to display them.  Sue said, “I was in the company of the  local crème de la crème of flower design and a spectacular national demonstrator, Diane Fair, showing her expertise with an entertaining dialogue.

Diane Fair’s presentation in the restaurant at Gordale, organised by Pat Wood,  was in aid of research conducted by the Alzheimer’s Society and raised over £1,000.

25 Community Carol Service 11th December 2016

Each year Parkgate & Neston United Reformed Church celebrate the work of volunteer and volunteer groups in Neston with this special carol service.  This year representatives of many local groups were joined by the NE Singers at a service that all I spoke to found enjoyable and a fitting celebration of community work.

I’ll not attempt to name all the groups represented for fear of omitting one – but thank you P&N URC for organising this each year.

24 Parkgate Christmas Start 9th December 2016

The Parkgate Society again organised the official opening of Christmas celebrations in Parkgate.  I was about to head this blog with Lights Switch-on in Parkgate.  But at the ceremony arranged by the Parkgate Society they were already on.  This is because there are so many demands on Cheshire West Council’s lighting engineers at this time of year, every community in the Borough has to accept the strict connection timetable established by highways.

The children from Parkgate Primary School were again in fine voice with a collection of carols and songs, with help and encouragement from the school staff and Paula Prytherch of Hip and Harmony, and the brief ceremony was ended with free mulled wine and mince pies at Mozkitos Coffee House.  Thank you Laura and Ian Spencer for this continuing support to the community.


Photo Bernard Rose Photography

23 Neston Business Awards 7th December 2016

The spread  of winners at the second annual awards ceremony demonstrated the changing nature of commercial activity in Neston as well as rewarding long-term commitment to the town.

A new Mayor of Neston award for exceptional customer service voted by the public provided a short-list of two that it was impossible to separate.  The nominator of Mozkitos Coffee House in Parkgate said it had developed as a real community asset.  When Parkgate stores closed the locals had nowhere to get their newspapers, milk and bread in Parkgate. Laura Spencer came up with the idea of getting these essentials for pre- order.  “Her staff are so welcoming and always have a smile for all their customers.  They welcome dogs and muddy boots and provide excellent breakfast and other meals.”

Mike McFeat Roofing is a family owned small business with a local focus. They repair and maintain roofs for so many people, businesses and institutions around Neston.  Their nominator said, “They provide reasonable quotes, stick to the quoted price, turn up on time, do an excellent job, and if there is any problem (rare) they come back to fix it and they come out in emergencies. What more can ask from a local business?”

Winner of the long-standing business award,  Balducci Jewellers, began as a home-based trade repairs business in 1974. Shortly afterwards Lynette Balducci moved the business to a room above Pykes the Butcher (now Selby’s Star) and, in 1977 to its current location at The Cross. Balducci’s, still run by Lynette and her daughter Annette,  has long brought a touch of class and excellence to the town centre.  Their beautiful designs, both ‘off the peg’ and bespoke, bring buyers from far and wide. Family run and very much in the heart of the community, Balducci’s has an excellent reputation in the jewellery world and amongst their many thousands of happy customers.

To my mind Neston Market has been much improved since the Town Council took over its management: more stalls, different stalls – and more than just the Friday one.  So it was good for the new Market trader of the Year Award to go to Sion Jones of Station House Nurseries. Sion personally brings the company’s goods to the town’s markets, rarely if ever missing a day.  He goes above and beyond by actively promoting the markets on social media, supporting seasonal promotions such as Easter, Halloween and Christmas with huge enthusiasm and inspiring other traders to join in.  He even lends a hand to tidy up and put away stalls at the end of the Farmers’ Market.

This year’s Neston Entrepreneurs of the Year award went to Elephant Coffee.  Their town centre Coffee Shop opened its doors in 2012, followed, in 2014, by Elephant Lounge and Bar in Parkgate, and now, in 2016, they are launching Elephant Bank Pizzeria and Bar, taking over an iconic building in the heart of the town, further broadening the food and drink offer for residents and visitors alike.



Lynnette Balducci (seated) and from left, Sion Jones, Mike McFeat, Adam & Emma Mitchell (Elephant) and Ian Spencer & Laura Elwood (Mozkitos)


22 Neston Victorian Christmas Festival 3rd December 2016

What a triumph of Community celebration!  Hundreds of people at the event all afternoon and into the evening, and a packed Market Square for the finale.  It was remarkable how many people stopped me to praise the event and to ask me to thank the organisers.  And every one of the 50 or more stallholders outside and inside the Town Hall seemed busy.  Indeed every single one I spoke to (and that was nearly all of them) said how worthwhile it all was.  One serving hot dogs said he went to lots of such events, but for the sense of a community enjoying itself this was the best he’d experienced recently.

A typical unsolicited emailed comment was “What a lovely evening.  Please do it again next year we really enjoyed it.”

Thanks to our team of volunteers and to the Council staff, especially Nicky McMahon our support officer, all so ably led by Claire Evans, our Asserts and Events Manager – she’s proving to be an asset herself!

Vc 35

Vc 29

Vc 25

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Vc 15

All Photos by Robert Clive

21 Carols and Campfire 2nd December 2016

Deputy Mayor Cllr Ceri Lloyd attended this event.  She said “I thoroughly enjoyed the evening at the Neston Community centre on Friday – hot chocolate, singing and a lovely fire. This was a great effort by the children who made the atmospheric lanterns.  Thanks to all the staff at the Centre and their volunteers.”


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