Putting Our Best Foot Forward

Climate Emergency – making small steps locally is our way to help avert it

Gorgeous Gorse Hill is five! For those of us who set up this resident-led community group it’s fairly unbelievable. What started as a conversation about how we can help make our area better, make everyday spaces less drab, reduce the grey that surrounded us has led us to this point. The underlying purpose of Gorgeous Gorse Hill was always about “making the mundane marvellous” (yes, I know I’m really over fond of alliteration); an attempt to make our everyday journeys brighter and cheerier. But beneath that was also an attempt to bring more nature to the area, to enable planting, flowers, fruit and vegetables to thrive where previously there was nothing. In our small way we’ve brought a little bit more biodiversity to Gorse Hill but fundamentally we’ve brightened things up.

Brightening things up, that was what it was about making journeys better. Journeys by foot – to school, to work, to the shop, to the match, to the pub, even just to the bus stop. These types of journeys are more important than ever and how we make them is the most pressing. We have to get out of our cars, we have to start walking. It’s hard to believe that 60% of all car journeys we make each day are between one and two miles; that is a staggering number and one we can easily affect. Can you imagine how different our journeys to school and shops would be if we were all walking there? How many more people we’d see and get to know. How many more hellos we’d be able to hear. How many flowers we’d get to see, you might even find that elusive final piece of GGH art. These are the journeys we need to focus on.

There is something that stops us making these journeys, whether that be the roads don’t feel safe, it takes too long to walk, the weather, the route is boring. Some of these we can’t do anything about (it’s Manchester folks, it’s always going to rain) but there are some we can and as such a new group has been set up to try and get more of us out making everyday journeys by foot.

Living Streets Stretford has been set up by some local residents to try and make our journeys better and to get more of us making them.

Stretford presents some challenges to the everyday walker, the first is the A56 it’s massive, full of cars and means walking along that route is not particularly nice. The work of Gorgeous Gorse Hill and Stretford in Bloom is trying to do something about this by adding more plants, trees, shrubs you name it to brighten up our journeys and at the same time make a small dent in air pollution. But Living Streets Stretford feels there’s something else that they can do (with all of our support) and that’s make those journeys easier. At the moment there are some (likely not enough) crossings on all the main roads through Stretford, the problem is pedestrians are an after thought at these crossing. At some we can’t even cross the whole road in one go, at others we stand there for ages waiting for the lights to change, at others there aren’t even pedestrian elements (green man etc) to help you get across. Living Streets Stretford thinks this needs to change, if we’re going to encourage more people to leave their cars at home and walk then we need to make walking easier and driving more inconvenient.

Living Streets (is a national charity), they aren’t the enemy of the car driver, all of us involved are drivers, what they (and we locally are saying) is we need to walk more. Simple as that. It’s better for us (both physically and mentally), it’s good for our local area, it’s good for our neighbours and it’s good for the environment.

In this current climate emergency we can all feel a little helpless at the enormity of the challenge, but this is a literal small step we can make to help change things for good for us, for our neighbours and our children for years to come. If we can all do this, Gorgeous Gorse Hill will continue trying to make those journeys less mundane.

If you’re interested in getting involved you can join the Facebook group or get in touch with us at: Stretfordgroup@livingstreets.org.uk

2020 Activities and Events

Ħ meeting or event                 * activity

  When & Where?
Feb * Saturday 22nd, 11am – 12, Avondale
March * Saturday 14th, 11am – 12 lavender planter
near Bishop Blaize pub
  Ħ Monday 9th, 7 – 8pm, Gorgeous Gorse Hill AGM:
Trafford House, Chester Road (all welcome)
April * Friday 3rd time, 11am – 12, Avondale:
Easter Holiday special!
May Ħ Saturday 2nd, Spring Fair, 11am – 2pm:
Gorse Hill Studios
  * Saturday 9th, 10:30-11:30am – Pocket Paradise Park
June * Date TBC, lavender planter nr Bishop Blaize
July * Date TBC, Burleigh Gardens
August * Date TBC, Avondale
September * Sunday 20th, 10:30 – 11:30am, lavender planters:
near Bishop Blaize
October * Date TBC, Pocket Paradise Park
November Ħ Saturday 21st, 2pm – 5pm – Winter Fair:
Gorse Hill Studios Ħ
  * Saturday 28th,  10:30 – 11:30am:
Ravenswood Rest Space
December * 5th December, 11:00am – 12:00 – Avondale

One Hour Pledge Challenge

Could you pledge one hour of your time to Gorgeous Gorse Hill for the year 2020?

Finding enough volunteers, particularly for regular activities where we clear up our planted areas, is one of our biggest challenges. You really don’t need any experience at all, or to like gardening – just a willingness to help out and maybe get your hands a bit dirty (though we do provide gloves!).

We have regular activities throughout the year, or if you’d like to do things in your own time then you could adopt a tree pit on your street, or do some regular weeding at one of our sites in your own time. Or design us a poster?

Just head over to our Facebook page (search for ‘Gorgeous Gorse Hill’) and find the pledge challenge post. All you need to do is pledge in the comments and look out for activities coming up. You’ll need to be a member of the group to join.

Some activities are suitable for children but must be supervised. We’ll let you know on the event listing.


Shopping Local and Helping Your Community

I’ve been the Chair of Gorgeous Gorse Hill for five years, Wow! Five years! That’s just sunk in. We started this group, essentially sat round a dining table talking about what we liked and didn’t like in Gorse Hill. We are just ordinary residents who’ve never really got involved in running a community group before. Five years on we’ve learned so much and done so many things in Gorse Hill, if someone had told me we’d have mosaiced 15 concrete bollards I’d have fallen off my chair.

But here we are, all still local residents, all still volunteers. Everything we do for Gorgeous Gorse Hill is in our spare time: funding applications, writing blogs, meetings, Christmas Fairs, planting 5000 bulbs, planting 1000 snowdrops, digging, weeding, painting, sweeping and there’s lots more.

When people offer to help us, or we win a funding bid, it is huge! Every minute of help we receive, and every penny of donations are incredible, making a huge difference to what we can achieve for Gorse Hill.

So, when we were chosen to be one of the Co-operative’s Community Fund recipients for 2019/2020 we were over the moon. This means that every member who chooses us as their Community Fund, who shops in their local Co-op and buys Co-op brand products, 1% of that goes to us. This is amazing and could mean a huge amount of money raised for us.

But to achieve this we need everyone to sign up as members and choose us as their Community Fund, then we need them to get their friends and family to become members and do the same. It’s easy to do that, just follow these simple instructions.

This is an amazing opportunity for Gorse Hillers to show their love and support to their local community group.


Calling all GGHs: We’re looking for a new Treasurer to join our committee

I’m stepping down from the role of GGH’s Treasurer and I want to ask you for your help: could you be GGH’s next Treasurer?

Treasurer… are you thinking that doesn’t sound like something you’d be up for?

Think again 😊 I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now and it’s a pretty straightforward role. More importantly, it’s one of those things that you can do in 2-3 hours per month but it has a massive impact on keeping the wonderful activities of GGH going. The main responsibilities of the Treasurer are quite simple: mainly making online payments from the account, keeping a record of invoices and receipts, and tracking the group’s finances on a spreadsheet.

I’ve recently moved away so I’m not able to continue doing this role but I have such admiration for the work that everyone in GGH does that I am reaching out to encourage anyone and everyone who loves our fantastic community group to consider helping out by volunteering to be our next Treasurer – it’s a great way of getting involved, you will make a BIG difference, and you’ll be part of improving our community even if you don’t have much time.


5 reasons for getting involved with Gorgeous Gorse Hill

Over the years I’ve called ‘home’ quite a few places, from bustling big cities to small villages that you can barely find on a map, but now Gorse Hill feels like home in quite a new way. And if I’m writing this blog post it’s because part of the reason for this has been getting involved in community-led projects like Gorgeous Gorse Hill. So, I wanted to share my top 5 reasons for finding some time to volunteer with us:


I know it sounds a bit absurd but sometimes if you’re stressed, or busy, or lonely, it helps to have a reason and an excuse to get you out and doing something different. Last year I was in the midst of writing my dissertation and overwhelmed with work, so I was spending more time sitting in front of a computer screen than is probably healthy. I found out about the weekly Action Hours that GGH organised and decided to go along during my lunch break one day a week when I was working from home – and I found that it was so nice to just disconnect and do something new (with lovely people too!) that I felt refreshed and more relaxed for it.


Okay, so this reason is probably (well, definitely) a bit of a cliche, right? “Volunteer to make a difference” sounds like a slogan we’ve all heard before. Here’s the thing though: it’s true. Whether it’s the main reason why you get involved in a project or group, or whether it’s a byproduct of getting involved, you will make a difference for the better. If you think about it, the smallest gestures make the world of a difference – a smile, lending a hand, a compliment. And what I’ve seen being part of GGH is that when people come along to an event – even if only once a year, or for half an hour at a time – it also makes the world of a difference to our neighbourhood.


There’s no denying it, Chester Road is, for the most part, pretty grey and glum – but less so in Gorse Hill! Have you seen the colourful Pocket Park on the canal bridge? And the giant planters with cherry trees and wild flowers? And the shop shutters? The bushes and flowers opposite Burleigh Court? The planters on the corner of Avondale Road? The Ravernswood Rest Space mural opposite Tesco? The lavender planter and the painted toilet block near the Bishop Blaize? And all the art work on the BT boxes across Gorse Hill? I think that these projects add a wonderful splash of colour and brightness to the streets where we live. And, in turn, this brightens up people’s faces – we’ve seen people smile as the walk past some of the planters, stopping to smell the flowers when they’re in bloom, taking some vegetables home, kids pointing out some of the artwork to their parent on their way to school, and passersby stopping to thank us when we’re out doing GGH projects – which also brightens up our day!


Whenever I have friends and family coming to visit and we go for a bit of a wander around Gorse Hill, I feel genuinely proud to show off all the brilliant GGH sites and the colourful projects, from the Pocket Park to the lavender planter, and of course all the artwork on the BT exchange boxes scattered around our streets. People always comment on how they make Gorse Hill quite quirky and unique – and I can say it’s nice to be a part of making it happen!


And speaking of being a part of it… when we’re doing any of the GGH projects and activities, from the busy summer fair to a half hour of gardening here and there, I definitely get a sense of accomplishment from helping to make our community a better place…

 but don’t just take my word for it, come and find out for yourself!

Why Volunteer? You could get a park named after you!

Marje’s Park – A Volunteer’s Journey

People often make lots of assumptions about community groups: that they have loads of volunteers, that those volunteers have loads of time and no other lives and that you can ask them to do anything. What most volunteer community groups have is a small core group of dedicated volunteers without whom the group would likely cease to exist.

Gorgeous Gorse Hill fits in this latter category, although we always (desperately) need volunteers, we are incredibly thankful for those who come out in all weathers to help us.

One of these volunteers is Marje Kelly, who last week, had a small park in Gorse Hill named after her. Gorgeous Gorse Hill worked with Trafford Council and were strongly supported by local councillors: Anne Duffield and Mike Cordingley to achieve this small recognition for an amazing volunteer.

Marje talked about what having the park named after her meant and why she volunteers with us:

“I am so honoured to have  a park named after me, It just goes to show what one can achieve by being happy to keep the parks nice and tidy, anyone can achieve this and I am grateful how many people appreciate my efforts.

 I first volunteered for the community groups starting off with “Poo Busters”  and especially “Gorgeous Gorse Hill”, the love of flowers and watching them grow and maintaining all aspects of gardening has inspired me to join this fabulous group.
I need to be active, it gives me such joy and pleasure to be involved in all of it as it keeps me fit and gives me a purpose in life, you too could feel the same it’s simple – just enjoy nature at its very best and you will be rewarded inwardly and outwardly.”

Not all of us will get a park named after us for our efforts like Marje did, but the feeling of satisfaction, of getting to know neighbours and your wider community as well as making small forgotten corners brighter and more beautiful is reward enough.
If you want to know more and get involved, sign up to our mailing list by emailing: gorgeousgorsehill@gmail.com

Summer Garden Party

I spent many a happy summer helping my Grandma at her Church garden party. The weather always seemed good, there was always cake and people happily wandering around chatting and playing strange and obscure games (that to this day I’ve never quite figured out). The joy of those garden parties was their community feel, everyone coming together, celebrating the summer, chatting to neighbours and getting to know one another. Oh and eating cake.

So, in that grand tradition Gorgeous Gorse Hill is having a garden party this year on the 17th June. We can’t promise obscure outdoor games, but we can promise cake, plants, community spirit and a chance to get to know your neighbours.

It’s important for us that people know who we are, what we do and how they can get involved and what better way to do that than over a cuppa and cake. We’ll also have creative fun for kids, a plant stall, a book stall, a hanging basket workshop with the amazing Joe from Marlborough Road allotments (this is a limited place workshop so arrive early to book your place and avoid disappointment). We’ll also have competitions: you can join in our Name the Canal Bridge Pocket Park Competition and also our Adopt-a-Tree-Pit Competition where residents plant and brighten up an adopted tree pit with the winning one being chosen in September.

So, what’s stopping you, come see us. Did I mention there was cake.

The Coming of the Spring

It always feels appropriate that Gorgeous Gorse Hill hold our AGM in January every year, it’s dark, it’s cold and most of our planting is dormant. But our mosaic bollards continue to sparkle on frosty night and our birds, butterflies, bees and caterpillar (have you spotted our tiniest art on the bollards at Ravenswood Rest Space) art puts a smile on your face on a damp trip to Tesco.

“Snowdrops: Theirs is a fragile but hardy celebration…in the very teeth of winter.”

Then there are the snowdrops, two years ago a few of us planted 1000 of the delicate little beauties and now when they appear they herald another year for us.

But, I’m drifting off into reverie and really came here to talk about how our last year went, well pretty well if I say so myself. Ravenswood Rest Space continues to develop with the addition of our amazing mural by Venessa Scott and our incredible chainsaw sculptures and benches by John Lee; there’s still work to be done on this area but the addition of art, benches, bird boxes and yet more bulbs to keep those snowdrops company is making a difference.

As a result of winning Tesco’s Bags of Help funding we were able to convert one of the worse grot spots in Gorse Hill on the canal bridge into a wonderful pocket park. This will create another wonderful spot for nature as well as much more pleasant stopping off spot for kids coming home from school and carrying the shopping home.

Finally, we planted eight wonderful trees as part of our New for Old Project. The trees look stunning and we spoke to lots of our older residents who had some amazing memories of parks and trees around the area. These great memories will be added as carved tags to the trees in the Spring.

All of these are achieved through a phenomenal amount of hard work by volunteers, you can see below how many hours were put in last year and we are eternally grateful. This year we’ll be working hard to recruit more volunteers as a community group is only as good as its active volunteers.

So what next? We are now doing a regular action hour every week to keep on top of maintenance on our many sites. We are also planning an action packed month in the summer, with lots of activities, events and opportunities to get involved. So, if you’re new to Gorse Hill of just want to do more, get out more and get to know your neighbours, what’s holding you back. Come on, let’s make Gorse Hill gorgeous together.



New for Old Trees project update

Thanks to funding from Trafford Housing Trust’s Community Panels and Trafford Council, we’re working with a Greater Manchester-based organisation called City of Trees to plant around eight new trees in Gorse Hill. The ‘New for Old’ name is because the new trees will be planted to honour some of our oldest local residents. The idea came about because we know from feedback that some of our oldest residents, especially those with mobility problems, find it hard to get involved with our planting activities. We’ve been out to interview several residents now about their memories of trees, parks and open spaces in Gorse Hill and had some really great stories. Lots about the parkies!

We have two planting dates coming up that you are all welcome to get involved with:

  • Saturday 12th November, between 10am and 1pm at Cranford Avenue Park

  • Wednesday 16th November, between 10am and 12 midday at Nansen/Topfields Park

No need to bring anything as we will provide all the tools.

Once the trees are planted we plan to inscribe some of the memories our local residents have shared with us onto wooden ‘tree charms’, and hang them in the trees.

A few months back we spent much of our meeting looking through tree nursery brochures with Beth from City of Trees to choose ones for the sites we had identified. We had some interesting discussions about native versus non-native trees. I’d originally thought that I would prefer native, but Beth explained that it’s actually a good idea to have a range of different trees to help protect against disease. Ash dieback being a good example of where one disease can wreak havoc where the species it affects is widespread.

For those of you who like to know the detail (like me), here are the trees we’ve chosen:

We’re really excited to be nearly at the planting stage!