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Southport falls silent to honour Victoria Cross hero

A Special commemorative paving stone has been laid in Southport to recognise war hero Private Richard George Masters VC.

The laying of the commemorative stone is the latest of five permanent tributes to former residents across Sefton who received the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

Members of Private Masters’ family joined the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside and Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Dave Robinson, to unveil the VC Commemorative Flagstone as part of special service held at the War Memorial, Lord Street, Southport on Saturday April 21.

Prior to the service, 238 Sefton Squadron RLC paraded from Nevill Street to the Monument in tribute to him.

Mayor of Sefton, Cllr Dave Robinson, said: “It was an honour and a privilege to pay tribute to a true Sefton hero.

“Private Masters did what nobody else thought ever possible and his actions on the battlefields of France saved hundreds of lives in just a day.

“So many men from across the borough fought in the Great War and this is just the latest in a number of events taking place across Sefton to remember their sacrifices.”

Private Richard George Masters was a 41-year-old Ambulance driver stationed near Bethune, France in 1918 when an enemy attack left his fellow soldiers cut off and facing certain death.

Although thought impassable, Private Masters single-handedly drove his ambulance across the battlefield, through a barrage of heavy fire and bombing, in a bid to rescue the wounded.

He made journey after journey throughout the afternoon. When the gunfire stopped and the dust settled, Private Masters had rescued nearly 200 men.

His heroics did not go unnoticed and Private Masters was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Sefton encourages residents to walk to work

Sefton Council is encouraging residents to leave the car at home and walk to work on April 6 in support of Walk to Work Day.

This is a great opportunity for the people of Sefton to reduce their carbon footprint and make a positive action for their health and wellbeing.

Those who live too far afield to walk the entire journey could try to walk to the train station or bus stop rather than drive.

Recent figures show that as little as 2.5% of the population choose to walk to work five days a week.

The council would like to encourage as many people as possible to pledge to walk for at least part of their journey.

By walking to work, residents are helping to reduce the amount of air pollution caused by cars and traffic.

Sefton is also calling upon its staff to make a pledge to ditch the motors for the day and brave the walk to work.

Matt Ashton, Director of Public Health for Sefton and Knowsley, said: “Walk to Work Day is a fantastic opportunity to make a positive lifestyle choice and welcome some physical activity to your daily commute.

“Walking has so many benefits to health and wellbeing and by making the choice to leave the car at home, we can reduce the amount of pollution caused by traffic.

“I strongly encourage all residents to take this opportunity to improve their health and Sefton’s air quality.”

Changes to NHS Health Checks

The way that NHS Health Checks are available in Sefton is changing from April.

Your free NHS Health Check will now be done by staff from Active Lifestyles and Living Well Sefton.

If you’re aged 40 to 74 you may be eligible for a free NHS Health Check, which is a great way to get personalised advice on keeping yourself healthy and active.

It checks that some of your body’s most important systems are all running smoothly and it helps to spot any potential problems before they cause real damage.

Your blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI will all be checked.

There are some things that you can’t change – like your age, ethnicity or family history, but the most important factors on your future health – such as your weight, cholesterol level and blood pressure – can be changed.

After your NHS Health Check you’ll be given advice and support to helps you improve your health; including free and easier access to local activities you might want to take up to keep yourself happy, healthy and active.

To book your free NHS Health Check ring 0151 934 2352 or you can access any of the sessions available locally in various venues throughout Sefton.

Community Garden graduates look back to their roots

A south Sefton project which has been helping local volunteers to learn horticultural skills held a special event recently to celebrate the success of its graduates.

Regenerus, Bootle-based organisers of the Taking Root Project, hosted a picnic lunch and presentation ceremony at a community garden at Marian Way in Netherton to salute the achievements of the 26 participants aged from ten to 66.

The project was established by the regeneration specialists with the help of an Awards for All grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

Since December last year it has been working with local groups at Marian Way, Netherton Park Neighbourhood Centre and the Gateway Collective in North Park, Bootle.

Taking Root Co-ordinator Christine Leung has supported volunteers with designing and setting up their community gardens, and also delivered training to help participants learn how to grow fruit and vegetables.

Working with partners the Feelgood Factory in Netherton, the Taking Root Project has also developed a new learning module – accredited through Open Awards – which has been specially designed to reflect the range of skills that participants can gain through gardening.

According to Christine Leung, the feedback from everyone who has been involved in Taking Root has been positive:

“As well as getting active and making new friends, our participants say that helping to establish new community gardens has given them real personal satisfaction.

“The project has also given everyone the opportunity to grow and eat their own food, and to gain a qualification recognising the skills they’ve acquired, which they’re obviously delighted about.”

Ruth Livesey of Regenerus added:

“A project like this one is about so much more than simply learning gardening skills.

“It’s also about upgrading the local environment, connecting people in local communities, boosting confidence and improving the general health and wellbeing of everyone who takes part.

“We’re very grateful to the Big Lottery Fund for their support, and to the participants for the commitment and enthusiasm they’ve shown throughout the programme.  They should all be very proud of what they’ve achieved.”

Bootle Town Hall Heritage Complex Centre

Sefton Council is exploring opportunities to create a cultural and heritage facility within Bootle Town Hall complex of Grade II listed buildings.

 In October 2016, Sefton Council published the Bootle Town Centre Investment Framework – a high level strategic document which looked to harness Bootle’s current assets and help reshape the town into a desirable residential, educational and business location.

 Feedback gained from the Investment Framework highlighted Bootle Town Hall as a great regeneration opportunity with the desire for increased cultural activity a key theme.

 Now a consultation and engagement exercise is set to start, looking at the potential to create a new cultural and heritage facility in the former Bootle Free Library and Museum within the town hall complex. Other civic functions within the town hall would still be maintained. 

 The consultation will run from October-December and a pop-up heritage centre looking potential options will also be in the Strand Shopping Centre during the school October half-term.

 Cllr Marion Atkinson, Sefton Council’s Labour Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Skills, said: “By transforming this historic building into a new home of arts and culture in the town, we believe this would be a major statement of the Council’s ambition for Bootle.

 “Potentially this refreshed physical space will be supported by a learning and skills infrastructure, reaching out to the local community and developing materials that can be used in local schools, adult education centres and beyond.

 “We believe this project will help ensure the town hall remains the civic focus of Bootle and also deliver a new cultural offer that will be sustainable and manageable over the long term.

 “At the moment we are only exploring opportunities and want to gauge what local people think about this. Please take the time to look at the consultation and get involved and help shape the future of this wonderful grade II listed building.”

The consultation will go live later this month via sefton.gov.uk 

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